An excited community came out to enjoy culture, great music, food and activities. The event opened with libations poured, in memory of those who lost their lives during the revolt. Mpinduzi Kuthaza, WSF board member, recognized the Festival’s honorary co-chairs, Les Jones (ret. Exec. Dir., Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club) and Desiree Edwards (owner, Watts Coffee House).
Congresswoman Maxine Waters graced the Festival with her annual presence and gave a rousing welcome and words of praise for the community and the steadfastness of the WSF board and volunteers, under the leadership of Pamela Garrett, WSF board President. Carson Councilman Mike Gipson, a son of Watts, enthusiastically paid tribute to the community and Festival. Senator Rod Wright presented the “Tommy Jacquette Legacy Torchbearer Award” to Watts resident and student, Lionel Rookard Jr.
Continuous entertainment on stage included Limited Edition Performance Company, Teye Sa Thosanne African Drum & Dance, Mo Betta Experience Band, Hope Hop Music Family, Man 2 the Future, Bobby Haynes Blues Band and Quinto Sol. The Hope Hop Music Family Band, which consisted of four sharp looking young men dressed in suit and tie, played a couple of jazz tunes (Bumpin On Sunset by Wes Montgomery, and Mr. Magic by Grover Washington) that made me slip back in time, and put a big grin on my face.
Other activities included a petting zoo, clown, hula-hoop contests for children (and adults who were game), and social service information regarding free services for residents. It was also a great opportunity to meet and speak with residents who had been a long time supporter of the Festival such as Alma Jackson, board member who was a runner-up of the Miss Watts Pageant in 1968.
Thanks also go out to Tulivu Jadi, vice chair of Organization Us, Kathy Williamson, Watts Festival Publicist, Richard O. Jones, Emcee, Author, Playwright, Comedian, Professor Amen Rahh, Founder, Compton Black Think Tank, and the entire planning committee, and volunteers. Great job!