Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bill Boyarsky: A Reporter Who Covered the Watts Riots Looks Back - Bill Boyarsky - Truthdig

Posted on Aug 10, 2015  By Bill Boyarsky

I was one of the large number of white reporters who covered the Watts riots a half century ago, unaware of the causes of the terrible events unfolding before our eyes.

Newspaper editors and reporters—and newspapers were the dominant media of the day—were almost all white. Our ignorance of African-American life was profound. That was the case in Oakland, where I started out, as well as in Los Angeles and the rest of the urban West and the North—sections of the country that liked to congratulate themselves for being more racially tolerant than the South.

I was with The Associated Press in Sacramento in August 1965 when the riots broke out, and I was dispatched to Los Angeles to help with the coverage. My first impression of South Los Angeles was superficial and wrong. I saw block after block of single-family homes, California bungalows, mostly well tended, that reminded me of neighborhoods in Oakland. I wondered why there would be riots in Watts—violence that ended up killing 34 and injuring more than 1,000.

Read more here: Bill Boyarsky: A Reporter Who Covered the Watts Riots Looks Back - Bill Boyarsky - Truthdig

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