Date of Award

Fall 1991

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1991 Joey S. Connors. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Kathryn Morgan


Connors makes use of primary sources such as interviews, news articles, and government documents to find clarity around the Watts riot, searching for both the "why" and the "how". He gathers perspectives from the media, official reports, scholars, and, finally, participants in order to uncover probable causes of the event. He concludes that, of the many elements contributing to the frustration of Watts residents, the underlying catalyst of the riot was the desire for better living standards and recognition of human rights. Connors argues that the main problem was the "empty promises" of the government, which led to African American disillusionment with American society.


Recipient of the Paul H. Beik Prize in History, awarded in 1992.