December 05, 2013
By Brandon I. Brooks, Managing Editor
and Kenneth D. Miller, Assistant Managing Editor
One of the original members of the Watts Prophets, Richard Dedeaux has died, the Los Angeles Watts Times has learned. Dedeaux succumbed at 10:45pm Tuesday night Dec.3.
Dedeaux and the group their poetry performances group came out of the smoke and ashes of the 1965-Watts Rebellion.
Among the rebuilding included the efforts of Budd Schulberg, (Academy Award-wining screenwriter for On the Waterfront) to create in his Watts Writer’s Workshop, an opportunity for local citizens to express themselves and their culture by encouraging art and literacy.
The Watts Prophets, made a quiet transition from our earthly plane to a more peaceful place.
Dedeaux left Los Angeles several years ago, moving to Seattle Washington to be near some of his relatives, mainly grandchildren. He passed in the comfort of home surrounded by family and friends.
Dedeaux and the Watts Prophets transformed Watts from the anonymity of the 1950’s and early 60’s that was lost forever after the explosive confrontation between the community and a Los Angeles police force in 1965.
It was the Watts Writer's Workshop that bore the Watts Prophet was born.
The Watts Prophets consisted of Dedeux, Amde Hamilton and Otis O'Solomon who lived and worked to create a better and more peaceful Watts.
In 1967, these three, the best of the students in the prestigious Watts Writers Workshop, won their first amateur talent contest as a nameless group.
But then, after they recited/chanted/spoke/sung/witnessed their unique jazz-accompanied topical poem, an audience member —dazzled by their performance —shouted, “They must be the Watts Prophets!”
The earliest work by the twenty-something aged poets (as documented in their earliest recordings) was an expression of their rage against powerlessness. Racism, poverty, and violence were their everyday reality and provided the thematic foundation for what becomes a very unique style — what many today acknowledge as the roots of rap.