Operation Boostrap letterhead | Southern California Library

Operation Bootstrap: Breaking New Ground in Community Empowerment

The traditional narrative of the Watts Uprisings suggest that businesses fled from the chaos, but the story of Operation Boostrap suggests a wholly different story. Through their work, Operation Boostrap uplifted the community and played into a larger narrative of the national civil rights movement. Host Nathan Masters speaks with activist Marva Maxey, Lou Smith's wife, and David Crittendon, a leading civil right activist, about the intent of Operation Bootstrap.

LA as SubjectA collaboration between the USC Libraries and KCETLink, Lost LA features the member collections of L.A. as Subject, a research alliance dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region.

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Desert Fantasy

California’s deserts have sparked the imaginations of millions of people around the world. From the famously alien landscape of Joshua Tree to the wide expanses of seemingly empty land, the desert has been seen as a place of reinvention, a blank slate on which the visitor creates his or her own dream. This episode explores the man-made natural disaster that created the Salton Sea, the efforts to preserve Joshua Tree National Park, and how commercial interests and real estate developers created a desert utopia like Palm Springs.

  • 2020-08-13T13:30:00-07:00
  • 2020-08-15T07:30:00-07:00

Shindana Toy Company: Changing the American Doll Industry

The Watts riots (also known as the Watts Uprising) left South Los Angeles in social and economic distress. In its wake, Operation Bootstrap, a non-profit community-based organization was formed, with hopes of facilitating change through community empowerment. This episode explores the lasting impact of one Operation Bootstrap initiative, the Shindana Toy Company, which left a lasting mark on the American doll industry by manufacturing ethnically correct black dolls.

  • 2020-08-18T13:30:00-07:00
  • 2020-08-18T17:30:00-07:00

Beach Culture

One of Southern California’s great international exports has been its beach culture. This episode explores how surfers, bodybuilders and acrobats taught Californians how to have fun and stay young at the beach — and how the 1966 documentary “The Endless Summer” shared the Southern California idea of the beach with the rest of the world.

  • 2020-08-19T04:30:00-07:00
  • 2020-08-20T13:30:00-07:00
  • 2020-08-22T07:30:00-07:00

Griffith Park: The Untold History

At more than 4,500 acres, Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. Its founder, the controversial and complicated Griffith J. Griffith, donated the land to the city as a public recreation ground for all the people — an ideal that has been challenged over the years. In this episode, Sarah Wilson, director of Education at the Autry Museum of the American West, explains the upcoming “Investigating Griffith Park,” exhibition and the effort to create an archive of all things Griffith Park.

  • 2020-08-25T13:30:00-07:00
  • 2020-08-25T17:30:00-07:00

Ghost Towns

Some California dreams did succeed, creating a megalopolis in the state’s north and south. Other dreams failed, leaving only ruins behind. This episode explores the hopes and dreams of three California ghost towns. We feature Bodie, an early gold mining settlement in Mono County that continues to be preserved in time; Llano Del Rio, a socialist utopian community in the Mojave Desert; and Zzyzx, a former health spa community that came to an end with the eviction of founder and radio evangelist Curtis Howe Springer.

  • 2020-08-26T04:30:00-07:00
  • 2020-08-27T13:30:00-07:00
  • 2020-08-29T07:30:00-07:00

Three Views of Manzanar: Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and Toyo Miyatake

Despite the trauma of their incarceration during World War II, Japanese Americans built new lives while detained at concentration camps like Manzanar. They played baseball, planted gardens and made the honor roll. Three renowned photographers captured these scenes: outsiders Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams and incarceree Tōyō Miyatake who boldly smuggled in a camera lens to document life from within the camp. All three trained their lenses on small yet profound moments of dignity and domesticity, documenting resilience in the face of civil injustice.

  • 2020-09-01T13:30:00-07:00
  • 2020-09-01T17:30:00-07:00


From its origins as a themed seaside trolley resort to its international fame as a countercultural hub, Venice Beach has been in a state of perpetual renaissance, boasting a rich, multilayered history. This episode explores evolution of Abbot Kinney’s original Venice of America development, and how the commercial renaissance along Abbot Kinney Boulevard has impacted the historically African American neighborhood of Oakwood. We also look at the Beat poet community who called Venice home.

  • 2020-09-03T13:30:00-07:00

Bootlegger Tunnels: A Journey Through LA’s Prohibition Lore

There is always lore ingrained in a city’s history, particularly one like Los Angeles. It is no secret that throughout the Prohibition Era individuals living in the city continued to enjoy their vices as much, if not more, than they ever had before. But it is how they subverted the law that still remains unclear. In this episode, we explore the myths of subterranean Los Angeles, crawl through claimed prohibition-era bootlegger tunnels and visit some of the city’s oldest speakeasies along the way.

  • 2020-09-08T17:30:00-07:00