this week, april 29th through may 1st was the 20th anniversary of what is known in l.a. as the Rodney King Riots, some of us call it, the ’92 L.A. Uprising. Whatever name that historic series of events is called, it is significant not only in L.A. history but in South L.A. history. When I speak of the South i’m talking about anything south of downtown l.a. all the way to watts, compton, lynwood, torrance. the ’92 Uprising can be seen as a reminder or a wake up call to all the poor, unemployed, underemployed, marginalized south l.a. community; a call to re-member that 20 years back organizing in South Central L.A. had been so successful, strong, militant to the point that the powers that be and all systems and institutions that protect and maintain the oppression did everything in their power to destroy the positivity that was coming out of the organized community. the strategic killing and locking up of warrior-organizers, including Black Panthers who were extremely successful on many levels, including providing basic needs to their ignored community. and then the 1980s CIA drop off of crack cocaine into the south central community, since then there has been a decline in militant organizing. what we see now, is not necessarily bad organizing but it is bandaid work, mostly under the umbrella of paid organizing and the non profit industrial complex…work that many are growing to learn is not enough to create the changes needing to happen.
on May Day, also known worldwide as International Workers Day, a group of us met and marched from Florence and Normandie, the exact spot that 20 years ago, i had watched on television, just as many others had done so as well, a Black man, Rodney King being beat by the LAPD. as a child that leaves an impression on you. it raises questions that one can’t answer but holds inside to be carried for many years to come.
20 years later we meet there, an organized group of youth, community members, organizers, children…and we march down Florence taking 2 of 3 lanes to Central Ave. and down Central to 41st where the Black Panthers headquarters once stood. there we met with Warriors who shared stories, lessons. lessons we can take and grow from. no need to repeat mistakes, we can start from our ancestors left off.
youth chanting their own chosen chants:
“we have the duty to fight,
we have the duty to win,
we must love each other and protect each other,
we have nothing to lose but our chains.”
demanding their liberation and the liberation of their communities. and the community of witnesses, people just doing their thing on a Tuesday morning, were in awe of what they were seeing happen. the unity that occurred in those short moments, to struggle for something bigger than ourselves; a break from the struggle to simply maintain.
our hearts sang with joy and fire. our bodies shook with determination. and our feet walked the path created by those Warriors who came before us, our youth making new waves, new journeys to ALL of our liberation.
All Power to All People.
News about the “riots”: