The Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) open their doors to 150 very special guest for a tour of the facilities and for a screening of the Oscar nominated short documentary THE WITNESS – FROM THE BALCONY OF ROOM 306.
High school students from Washington Prep, Crenshaw, Jefferson, Los Angeles, Hamilton, Foshay, and Dorsey were treated to this special Black history event, which was hosted by the Los Angeles Unified School District's Beyond the Bell program.
The documentary, which airs on HBO, features Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles, who was the only person on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis the moment Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.
Shot on location in Memphis at several historic sites, including the Lorraine Motel, the National Civil Rights Museum and Mason Temple, the documentary blends interviews and footage of Kyles and fellow former NAACP officials, then and now, with other archival footage.
The high school students were taken on a tour of the WLCAC museum, which has numerous artifacts related to Black history in the United States. The Hall of Shame includes items that challenge the unauthorized commoditization of the Black Image.
The tour continues with a walk down a virtual Mississippi Delta road, revealing to visitors how the Deep South in the early sixties may have felt. The dirt road leads into Freedom Hall which houses "Countdown to Eternity," the core of the Civil Rights Museum.
The exhibition centers on Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, and the award winning photographs were taken by nationally acclaimed photojournalist Benedict Fernandez. A photographic exhibition by world-renowned photographer Howard Bingham is featured in this space as well, documenting the efforts of the progressive movement of the Black Panthers.
The WLCAC's mission is to improve the quality of life for the residents of Watts and neighboring communities. The center provides a fully supportive learning environment for local youth, complete with computers with internet access, education and job-related phone and mail messaging, library, entertainment system, tutoring, mentoring, and counseling.
The center also has silk-screening, ceramics, fine arts, glass blowing, wood working, and photography studios.
Beyond the Bell is charged with the responsibility of overseeing all Extended Day Programs at the LAUSD. Their programs include LA Team Mentoring, Youth Services, Students Run LA, LA's Best, LA Bridges, Band & Drill Team Championships, Extended Learning Program, and Congressional Awards.