Watts residents enjoyed a bright and sunny summer day as they danced, listened to live music, and ate good food at Ted Watkins Park this Saturday during the 49th annual Watts Summer Festival.

The event was created by community leaders a year after the 1965 Watts Revolt, with the intent of redirecting the energies of the community into positive solutions and to develop community pride, cultural awareness, and political consciousness. The festival is also to pay tribute to the 34 residents who lost their lives during the civil unrest.

This festival celebrates the best of African Americans as proud and productive people, and it is one of the few events that displays the cultural contributions and successes of Black people. Most importantly, it provides a source of inspiration for future generations.

In 1972, the festival became the first African American organization to sponsor a sold-out concert at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Called “Wattstax: The Living Word,” the event became an album and major film. The resilience of the Watts Summer Festival is a testament to the dedication of the late Tommy Jacquette, who served as organizer from 1968-2009.

The Watts Summer Festival has received special proclamations and resolutions from city, county, state and federal officials. Past grand marshals have included Muhammad Ali, Coretta Scott King, Myrlie Evers, Betty Shabazz, Merv Dymally, Richard Pryor, Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr. the Former L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and the Rep. Maxine Waters.