Remnants of the Watts Festival, by Ulysses Jenkins, 1972-1973

Ulysses Jenkins, Artist
Remnants of the Watts Festival , 1972–73, compiled 1980

Video transferred to DVD, black and white, sound
60 min.
Credit Line
Courtesy of the artist. Video still courtesy of the artist

The Watts Summer Festival is one of the oldest African American cultural festivals in the United States. The Watts community founded the event in 1966, one year after the Watts uprising. Ulysses Jenkins's film captures moments from the festival, including footage from a performance by the band War. This California funk band—famous for songs such as "Low Rider," "The Cisco Kid," and "Why Can't We Be Friends?"—was also well known for its multiethnic membership. The 1972 Watts Festival was one of the first events that Jenkins filmed, and he captured the underlying issues of community and commemoration that defined the annual event. At the time the local news media would, in Jenkins's opinion, misrepresent the festival by issuing warnings about it, and the artist's own footage served to counteract the media's negative view.