Watts Prophets

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Established in 1967
Watts Prophets

The Watts Prophets were a group of inspired poets who were products of the accumulated economic, social, and political conditions of a community in South Central Los Angeles. Otis O’Solomon, Anthony “Amde” Hamilton, and Richard Dedeaux, long-time area residents and community activists, were the original soul of the Watts Prophets. The poetic works of these men, and of other cultural activist-artists across the nation in the 1960s, were the roots of many expressions that are now part of our spoken language and, more important, the precursor of much of the intellectual expansion of African thought within the academy around African agency. African agency, as it is expressed in the framework of Africology, is the study of African phenomena through the eyes of Africans, who are living the experience with specific ideas regarding the interpretation of that experience.

Prior to the 1960s, many African Americans did not see themselves as the center of their artistic and cultural experience. They were still performing for white audiences and for white interests, although they would write about African American conditions. The Watts Prophets changed this reality: Their words, music, and performances engaged audiences in a new aesthetic of expression. The Watts Prophets presented poetry as an expression of African call-and-response. The call was in the deliberate gestures, poses, eye contact, and rhythmic movement that characterized the performances, and the response was the audience’s engagement in those performances. The multidimensional construction of a social dynamic aimed at creating understanding through words and rhythms inspires an African method of observing data and methodology for interpreting the data. This particular kind of data relocates the African personality at the center of shaping the discourse around African agency. READ MORE

Behind the Prophets
Learn More About the Most Influential Group of Artist That You Never Hear of...