California Studies Association

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Activism and the LA Riots

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GlobalGrind featured a thought-provoking piece in the wake of last spring’s 20th anniversary of the L.A. Riots and last weekend’s #IgniteLA: Uprising Remixed, “a celebration of community organizing in South Los Angeles since the Los Angeles Riots.”

In this post by Rob Biko Baker the author muses about the meanings of 1992 both then and now, as a new generation of activists rises to the still lingering challenges from the past:

It’s been 20 years, but the summer of 1992 is indelibly etched in my brain. While Los Angeles’ fiery rebellion happened 2,000 miles away from my stomping grounds on Milwaukee’s far northwest side, the rage that pushed South Central Los Angeles residents to tear up their communities was very familiar to me.


As a 14-year-old boy growing into his manhood in one of America’s most segregated cities, I understood very well that people of color faced unprecedented discrimination. By the time I graduated the 8th grade, street gangs, police brutality, and a rapid uptick of violent crime became prominent features of my midwestern hometown.

In many ways, Milwaukee was just like Compton, Watts and every other black and brown working class neighborhood in California’s most densely-populated county.


But it wasn’t just the Rodney King verdict and its violent aftermath that resonated with me. The hip-hop music emanating from South Central Los Angeles stirred my and my friends’ souls and challenged us to think critically about our surroundings.

The entire piece can be read at GlobalGrind.


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