Race In America, From Watts To Ferguson And Beyond

The 50th anniversary of the Watts riots, and the 1 year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown. What we have and haven’t figured out about race.

In this 2014 file photo, rotesters march in the street as lightning flashes in the distance in Ferguson, Mo. (L). At right,  a shoe store in the Watts area of Los Angeles, CA, collapses in flames on  August 14, 1965. (AP)

In this 2014 file photo, rotesters march in the street as lightning flashes in the distance in Ferguson, Mo. (L). At right, a shoe store in the Watts area of Los Angeles, CA, collapses in flames on August 14, 1965. (AP)

Yesterday, the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Memorials, protest, and, sadly, gunfire there last night. Tomorrow, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Watts Riots in Los Angeles. 1965. Thirty-six dead in six days of rioting that scarred 46 square miles of LA. The Watts Riots were the first of many days of rage. Ferguson turned out to be the beginning of a year of new racial tensions and new questions that have turned a hard spotlight on unresolved issues. This hour On Point: Fifty years after Watts, one year after Ferguson – race now in America.

— Tom Ashbrook


Wesley Lowery, national reporter for the Washington Post. Part of the new Washington Post e-book, “Ferguson: Three Minutes That Changed America.” (@wesleylowery)

Farah Stockman, columnist and member of the Boston Globe’s editorial board. (@fstockman)

John McWhorter, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. Columnist for TIME Magazine. (@johnhmcwhorter)

Isabel Wilkerson, journalist and author. Author of the book “The Warmth of Other Suns.” (@isabelwilkerson)

From Tom’s Reading List

Boston Globe: Naming this era of racial contradictions — “There’s something else notable about our conversations on race today: the disconnect between where we are in 2015 and where we thought we’d be. The half-finished project of racial equality in the United States leaves us with a parade of endless contradictions.”

TIME: What the Watts Riots Could Teach Us About Future Fergusons — “The Watts Riots offer lessons for today’s Civil Rights street protests against the police murder of black people—and it’s not just that sometimes you have to take it to the streets. Make no mistake: You do—but there are other things that we must also do to make sure that today’s protests have a better outcome than the Watts ones did.”

Washington Post: Police shot and killed more people in July than any other month so far this year — “More people were shot and killed by on-duty police officers in July than in any other month so far in 2015. At least 103 people were shot and killed by police officers last month, according to a Washington Post database tracking all fatal on-duty police shootings this year. That is 13 more fatal police shootings than March, the second most deadly month, during which 90 people were shot and killed by police.”

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