Newspaper headlines of the Merry Go Round Riots in Griffith Park | Image from "Lost LA" Griffith Park: The Untold History

Racial Tensions Erupt at Griffith Park

The Merry-Go-Round at Griffith Park is a popular recreational activity, especially for parents and their children. The idyllic place is also the venue where Walt Disney purportedly first saw the glimmers of a future Disneyland. But in 1961, around the Memorial Day holiday, the Merry-Go-Round wasn't so merry; it became the site of racial tensions that challenged Griffith J. Griffith's vision of a park for the people. The incident is a reflection of the times, when Freedom Rides occurred in Montgomery, Alabama, and when the civil rights movement were just beginning to gain steam. Historian Alison Rose Jefferson explains to host Nathan Masters and author Casey Schreiner how this popular ride became a flashpoint in history.

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.

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

There are no airdates scheduled at this time. Visit our Shows page to discover other programs you may enjoy.