In 1972, record exec Al Bell oversaw the Wattstax festival, a one-day event brought together in the aftermath of the Watts Riots that took place in 1965 in Los Angeles and held during its 7th anniversary. The documentary itself showed performances from the event by the likes of Kim Weston, The Bar-Kays, Luther Ingram and Isaac Hayes and opened with a commentary by none other than Richard Pryor.
Alongside actor Ted Lange, Pryor discussed his personal experiences being a black man from his youth to the present day (as of 1972). His serious and forthright delivery, interspersed with light-hearted humour about race and racism, will be no surprise to fans of his comedy and help to break down the harsher undertones of conflict during that time. If you’re easily offended, these collated clips may not be for you but perhaps they should be.
Pryor’s appearances in Wattstax act as go-betweens for the greater musical expressions from some of the best soul artists of the 70s so, by all means, go check out the full documentary when you can.
Stream the video below.