Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

History, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Matthew Bowman

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Linda Perkins

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Luis-Brown

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2022 Sherwin K Rice


Black Panthers, Black Power, Civil Rights, Malcolm X, US Organization, Watts Rebellion

Subject Categories

American Studies


It is often believed that the Black Power Movement started after civil rights/black power activist Stokely Carmichael declared, “We want Black Power” in Greenwood, Mississippi on June 16, 1966 and ended in the 1970s. Similar to the Civil Rights Movement the Black Power Movement is often examined through a dominant narrative short movement view. Some scholars suggests that “Black Power” stood for a change in direction away from the nonviolent civil rights approach. But Black Power is an enigma and it means different things to different people. It is just one element of the Black Freedom Struggle. Black Power uses many methods to liberate Black people from oppression. It shares some of the same methods and goals with the Civil Rights Movement. However, there is one major difference. Unlike the nonviolent struggle for civil rights, participants of Black Power are not opposed to meeting state sanctioned violence with violence. Drawing on both primary and secondary sources, this dissertation challenges the idea of a dominant narrative short Black Power Movement in Los Angeles, California. Although Black Power and the Black Power Movement are experienced in cities across the nation this study is being undertaken because African American participation in Black Power in Los Angeles is often overlooked. Rebellions in many cities outside of the South during the 1960s may have appeared to come out of nowhere to people outside of the Black communities. However, to people in the Black community those storms were a long time in the making. In the first half of the twentieth-century the United States government created policies that limited where Black people could participate in home ownership. Those policies maintained grading systems based on a government created myth that Black people lowered property values, which added more value to white neighborhoods. Those lower-ratings also promoted the idea that Black neighborhoods had more crime, which resulted in over policing. In Los Angeles that over policing involved the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Sheriffs Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The use of Black Power and the development of the Black Power Movement in Los Angeles, California during the twentieth-century are examined in chapter one through governmental housing policies that imposed spatial restrictions on the movement of Black people. In the second chapter I examine the importance of pre1960s incidents of state approved brutality that occurred within the walls of Black communities both locally and nationally. In chapter three I examine the growing popularity and power of the Nation of Islam in Los Angeles and its history of resistance and how that impacted the Black community. In this chapter I also address the importance of the years between 1955 and 1960 in establishing the classic period of Black Power Movement in Los Angeles. Chapter four examines significant events in the early stages of the “classic” period 1961-1971 of the Black Power Movement in Los Angeles. Incidents involving the Nation of Islam and the LAPD play a major role in this examination because of the organization’s resistance or appearance of resistance to police brutality. Chapter five investigates what led up to the Watts Rebellion and what happened to the Movement in its aftermath. I address why Watts is not the beginning of the Movement and suggest it is the second part of the “classic” period of the Black Power Movement in Los Angeles. Chapter six exposes the continuing abuses committed by local law enforcement agencies and the federal government’s covert operations directed against the Black community, Black Power organizations, and Black students in academia. This chapter reveals some of the factors that led to the demise of the “classic” period of the Black Power Movement in Los Angeles.