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LA Aftershocks series: A look back at Wattstax

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Isaac Hayes and Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Wattstax music festival
Courtesy Wattstax
Isaac Hayes and Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Wattstax music festival

As part of the Grand Performances 'Aftershocks' series, Take Two looks back at the influential Wattstax music festival.

This summer marks 50 years since the Watts riots in Los Angeles.

The free concert series, Grand Performances is marking the anniversary with a spin-off series called 'Aftershocks.' featuring local artists exploring the intersection of social movements and the arts.

As part of the events, Take Two is hosting a series of pre-show conversations called "downSTAGE with Take Two." Host A Martinez will facilitate a discussion on Friday with hip hop duo,  Dead Prez, and Mark Torres from the Pacifica Radio Archives.

Take Two editor Joanne Griffith kicked things off a few weeks back with a discussion about the anniversary of the Watts Riots, and a look back at the Wattstax music festival. Also known as the "black Woodstock," the event took place on Aug. 20, 1972 -- seven years after the Watts Riots. More than 100,000 people packed the L.A. Coliseum for music and healing.

Wattstax was hosted by the influential Stax Records and featured the likes of Isaac Hayes, the Staples Singers and the Emotions. Joanne sat down Tim Watkins, a long time Watts resident and CEO of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee and  Lucien "Fiyeh" Smith, a cameraman who worked on the 1973 Wattstax documentary produced by Mel Stuart.

"When you're in the middle of something historic, like Wattstax, you don't really know it," said Smith, "You have a sense of a feeling. But there was 100,000 black people congregated in one place at one time, to have a celebration. Unheard of, just unheard of in this country." 

The event with A Martinez kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Grand Performances. For more information, click here.

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