On August 11, 1965, the largely Black Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts erupted in revolt after police brutalized 21-year-old Marquette Frye and his mother and brother. Over the next week, local, state, and federal officials responded to the uprising with overwhelming force. Deputy Police Chief Roger Murdock asserted, “We want to put as many people as we can in jail on bona fide arrests. That’s certainly no secret.”
Three months after Watts, on November 11, white settlers in the African colony Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence from Great Britain. The declaration, which preempted Zimbabwe’s independence and prevented Black majority rule, ignited a fifteen-year war in which Black revolutionaries fought to oust the settler regime.
This presentation explores U.S. officials’ responses to both the Watts rebellion of 1965 and Zimbabwe’s war for liberation (1965-1980) by using the analytic of counterrevolution. While scholars have documented the transnational nature of liberation movements, including by analyzing internationalism and Pan-Africanism, these two events also embody global white solidarity in suppressing Black and Third World liberation. The tactics, strategies, and policies used by state authorities in these disparate locales indicate that counterrevolutionary warfare of a transnational nature undergirded both racial domination at home and U.S. imperialism.
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