25 Amazing Photos Showing Life in Watts a Year After the 1965 Riots

The August 1965 Watts Riots (or Watts Rebellion, depending on one’s perspective and politics), were among the bloodiest, costliest and — in the five decades since they erupted — most analyzed uprisings of the notoriously unsettled mid-1960s. Ostensibly sparked by an aggressive traffic stop of a black motorist by white cops — but, in fact, the combustive result of decades of institutional racism and profound neglect on the part of the city’s power brokers — the six-day upheaval resulted in 34 deaths, more than 3,400 arrests and tens of millions of dollars in property damage (back when a million bucks still meant something).

A year after the flames were put out and the smoke cleared from the southern California sky, LIFE revisited the scene of the devastation for a “special section” in its July 15, 1966, issue that the magazine called “Watts: Still Seething.” A good part of that special section featured a series of color photos made by Bill Ray on the streets of Watts:

Not published in LIFE. Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Not published in LIFE. Young men hang out near Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, 1966.
Not published in LIFE. Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Not published in LIFE. Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Not published in LIFE. Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Not published in LIFE. Making Molotov cocktails, Watts, 1966.

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