The Watts Writers Workshop was a creative writing group initiated by screenwriter Budd Schulberg in the wake of the devastating 1965 Watts Riots in South Central Los Angeles (now South Los Angeles). The group was composed primarily of young African-Americans in Watts and the surrounding neighborhoods. The group expanded its facilities and activities over the next several years with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. Government files later revealed that the Workshop had been the target of covert operations by the FBI. Well-known writers to emerge from the Workshop include Quincy Troupe, Johnie Scott, Eric Priestley, Alvin A. Saxon, Jr. (Ojenke), Herbert Simmons, and Wanda Coleman, as well as the poetry group Watts Prophets.

Along with Budd Schulberg, the following were the original co-founders of the Writers Workshop: Ernest Mayhand, Leumas Sirrah, James Thomas Jackson, Birdell Chew Moore, Sonora McKellar, Jimmy Sherman, Johnie Scott, Guadalupe de Saavedra, Harley Mims, Eric Priestlery, Alvin Saxon Jr. (Ojenke), Ryan Vallejo Kennedy, and Blossom Powe. Early on, the Workshop expanded to include a theatrical component and one of the founders was the actor Yaphet Kotto. Kotto dedicated his time, earnings, and safety by going to Watts right after the riot to teach and support.

Harry Dolan was the director of the Watts Writers Workshop in 1975 when the workshop was burned down by FBI informant Darthard Perry.

Watts Writers Workshop

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310-337-2753

Email

wtceainc@yahoo.com

kippy1500@gmail.com

 
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