June 13, 2012 - April 30, 2013
Opening Reception June 13, 2012, 5 - 7 p.m.
On Aug. 20, 1972, something happened in Los Angeles that remains unmatched in American History. More than 100,000 people – mostly African-Americans – gathered in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a seven-hour concert that became cultural phenomena known as “The Black Woodstock.” The concert, hosted by Stax Records with its entire roster of artists at the time, was an event of soul music and soul solidarity – a peaceful, astounding, and vivid celebration of self-expression and self-respect, with a positive and empowering message for a community trying to rebuild itself after an era of riots and residents setting fire to their own neighborhood. At the time, it was the second largest gathering of African-Americans in history, second only to Dr. Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1963. The concert – as well as everyday life for blacks in Los Angeles – was captured on film, but even after being nominated for a Golden Globe Award and after screening in Los Angeles and at the Cannes Film Festival, the film never had a major theatrical release because it was deemed too controversial by mainstream Hollywood.
This special exhibit of photographs and memorabilia from the Wattstax concert and the making of the documentary is a special salute to the 40th anniversary of the event.