Bowman's young son absorbed other's prejudices during the 1965 riot
News coverage of the 1965 Watts riot was so critical of local black residents that Bowman's four-year-old son was convinced that all blacks would have to be killed before the violence stopped. He had to explain their racial identity to his son and point out how local military units also contributed to the violence. He suspects that neighbors in their integrated neighborhood had started the rumors that led his son to that opinion.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- RICHARD BOWMAN:
But, speaking of the first riot-we lived in an integrated
neighborhood and my son that's the Deputy Sheriff now he was just a
toddler and this is the first time that he realized-I mean I
realized that he didn't know what color he was, because we had the
military trucks and army trucks patrolling the city and
everything-I know one lady didn't stop for a barricade not too
far from where I live and they had machine guns at that intersection of
Slauson and Crenshaw
[KN: this is 1992?]
No, this is the first riot-Yeah, they had machine guns
there-and this lady didn't stop for some reason or another and
the National Guard just sprayed to car with machine guns and cut her
legs off up to her knees -because she was sitting in the car
and they just went right through.
- KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Oh, you're kidding.
- RICHARD BOWMAN:
Anyway, the trucks patrolled the neighborhood daily and my son was about
four years old came up to me and said uh, Dad they should kill all the
Negroes-that's what my son said and I asked him why and he
said because they burning the city and that's when I asked him I said do
you realize what you're-that's the first time I realized that
I needed to talk to him and let him know that he was a Negro, that he
was black-becuase he didn't realize at that time that he was
black.-but, he had heard it on the radio and heard the
neighbors talking because we lived in a mixed neighborhood and he had
probably heard those comments coming from someone in the