Hooligans, rapscallions, and troublemakers. Those are few of the many adjectives that were used to describe blacks of the 1960’s who were fighting for “equality” in America. There is so much maltreatment one can endure until they reach the tipping point. The 1960’s was a very volatile time for racial inequality. Even though Blacks were emancipated, by no means were they “free”. Racist Whites both, in everyday life and the political spectrum, enforced laws and a lifestyle that would ensure that Blacks were oppressed economically, socially and educationally.
Sometimes, violence is the answer. There are but so many “peaceful” protests and so many “I have a dream” type speeches that can be given; but if you are not being heard by the same people who are causing such despair and impoverishment, due to ignorance, then anger starts to build. There are many instances of Whites moving out of areas leaving just Blacks to knowingly suffer. When Whites moved they took the economic structure, job opportunities, proper educational systems, and healthcare. They left places to rot, leaving former skeletons of a once thriving and progressive area, now burdened with staggering unemployment rates compared to Whites. People of cities like Watts, Newark, and Detroit exploded as somewhat of a trifecta. All three cities had the same problems described in the former. Watts had an instance on August 11, 1965, when a policeman pulled over a man of ethnicity. The people of Watts, tired of the racial profiling, started to retaliate by throwing stones and objects at the policeman. Within hours the atmosphere could have been described as a war zone. The National Guard had to be called in to restore order. After $35 million in damages (which would have equated to hundreds of millions in today’s currency), tens of people hundreds lost their lives and hundreds injured. Two very similar outbursts that happened in Watts transpired in Newark and Detroit.
Change, of course, was brought swiftly to these people. The reason why these outbursts of violence work are because they bring attention; mainly, media attention. The mayors and governors of these places want to save face and do not want their reputations to be besmirched as the Mayor who let Los Angeles turn into a war zone, as with the instance in Watts and the Governor Pat Brown. They pretend to not hear the pleas and cries of their people knocking at his door, until they bulldozed it down with vengeance. Then these political officials are like deer in headlights and are forced to react.
Thank you for taking the time to read, “The Inner-City Rebellions” by Nnanna Victor Nwadike. If you enjoyed this article or it has moved you in any way, please consider supporting the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights at www.loweryinstitute.org. Let us be the change!