Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Trefts (Carolee Gardner) Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) Collection
SPC.2018.001  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (80.06 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Overview
 
Table of contents What's This?
Description
This collection is comprised of materials generated by Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) and collected by Carolee (Gardner) Trefts during her time spent working with the organization as an employee and later as author of a biography about the group's organizer, Ted Watkins. The Watts Labor Community Action Committee formed in 1965 prior to the Los Angeles (Watts) Riots of 1965 in an effort spearheaded by Ted Watkins, Sr. and supported by local labor unions, most notably, the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). Their purpose was to create and provide programs and services that serve the needs of the under-served, predominantly African American residents of the Watts and Greater Watts communities. In this collection are organizational documents, minutes, correspondence, memoranda, reports, program proposals, drafts/notes, ephemera, publications, newspaper clippings and photographs. The materials gathered here chiefly represent the organization's activities from the mid- to late-1960s, early 1970s and the early- to mid-1990s.
Background
The Watts Labor Community Action Committee formed in 1965 prior to the Los Angeles (Watts) Riots of 1965 in an effort spearheaded by Ted Watkins, Sr. and supported by local labor unions, most notably, the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). Their purpose was to create and provide programs and services that served the needs of the under-served, predominantly African-American residents of the Watts and Greater Watts communities. Ted Watkins was elected the Chairman of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee in 1966. Beginning in the late 1960s, the WLCAC developed programs and services aimed at bettering the community. Ted Watkins put his organizational skills as a union leader to work and was able to successfully solicit funding to help build a variety of programs to serve the Watts community. Early projects and services facilitated and provided by WLCAC included: senior citizens programs, neighborhood beautification, child care services, manpower training opportunities (Community Elite Corps, Community Conservation Corps, and Urban Residential Educational Center (Saugus)), Concentrated Employment Project and Consumer Action Project among others. In addition to these community services, WLCAC contributed to the economic development of the area through the ownership and operation of several small businesses, including: housing-related enterprises (moving, construction and property management), markets, a Mobil gas station and a restaurant. In 1969, the community-based organization found additional success through their campaigning to get a county hospital to serve the community on the ballot. Three years later, on March 27, 1972, that initial accomplishment became fully realized when the Martin Luther King Jr. General Hospital opened in Willowbrook. Aside from local achievements, WLCAC and Ted Watkins' success in community development organization was becoming nationally and internationally noticed. In 1981, the British government invited Ted Watkins to London to advise on anti-poverty programs in the aftermath of the 1981 Brixton riot and subsequently opened a WLCAC branch office in London. Watkins' and WLCAC's accomplishments were also noticed in the United States. Yale University awarded Watkins the Medal of Entrepreneurial Excellence at the 1983 Commencement. Despite these accolades, WLCAC was not immune to hard times. WLCAC properties fell victim to the destruction of property, vandalism and looting that befell South Central L.A. during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots following the Rodney King verdict. A year later, Ted Watkins passed away. In subsequent years, WLCAC continued to accomplish Ted's vision by providing services to the community as well as adding an emphasis in the arts and cultural heritage by hosting exhibitions such A Slave Ship Speaks: the Wreck of the Henrietta Marie and the installation of the of the sculpture, Mother of Humanity in Watts. Ted's legacy of leading the organization has continued with his family's active involvement. His daughter Teryl served as President of WLCAC following his passing. As of 2018, Tim Watkins is President and CEO of WLCAC.Carolee (Gardner) Trefts began working with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee in the mid-1960s as Program Analyst. She assisted in writing grant proposals and application packages for a multitude of WLCAC programs. She worked here through 1970 (approximately). She applied her skill for grant writing to other local groups and drafted grant applications and proposals for similarly situated groups as WLCAC. She was also active in the Pasadena community by supporting parents and students against the Pasadena School Board in its desegregation controversy during the 1970s. Eventually, she left the Southern California region to live in Berkeley, California. In the early 1990s, following the passing of Ted Watkins, Carolee again performed work on behalf of WLCAC, writing a biography of the late organizer, Ted Watkins.
Extent
9 boxes 7 document storage cases and 2 clamshell boxes
Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply.
Availability
There are no access restrctions on this collection.