Watts Labor Community
Action Committee

About Us

Then, Now & Forever

The Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) is a non-profit, community-based, human social services organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for South Central Los Angeles residents.

Our Past

MISSION: The WLCAC mission is to improve the quality of life for the residents of Watts and neighboring communities.

Our Founder

“Don’t Move… Improve” – Ted Watkins 1922-1993

Ted Watkins, Sr. born in Mississippi in the 1920’s, moved to California at the age of 13 on his own. He settled in Watts, married and raised six children Tamlin, Theodore Jr., Teryl, Lyssa, Timothy, and Tom.

As longtime member of the United Auto Worker’s Union, faced with the seemingly insurmountable injustices of labor discrimination against members of the Watts community, he organized and founded the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) in 1965, just months before the Watts rebellion.

He built WLCAC to improve the quality of life in Watts: and that’s what it has done ever since. After the riots Ted organized the youth of Watts to clean up blighted vacant lots, plant grass and flowers and turn them into vest-pocket parks, one of which remains erected in his name to this day.

He brought medical services to Watts in his work to get the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center built.

He provided housing building more than ten different apartment complexes in Watts.

He was a part of dozens of initiatives that helped bring public transportation, a freeway, thousands of jobs, and some of the nation’s first programs serving our elders in their homes when they have no loved ones to care for them.

In the early 1980’s, Ted worried the community was being starved for resources again and another rebellion would take place: In 1992 it happened.

Despite the WLCAC being targeted and burned to the ground, destroying more than twenty years of work, Ted led the rebuilding of the WLCAC, overseeing the reconstruction of the first building in Watts to rise again, just one year after the ‘92 rebellion.

Ted passed away less than a year later, having laid the unshakeable foundation for stabilization of Watts and having created a legacy that lives on in WLCAC, his family, and throughout the Watts community.

View the “A Practical Man”, a 15-minute documentary about Ted Watkins leadership.

Our Present

VALUES: WLCAC is trusted to provide high quality services that are relevant to the community in a way that is responsible, resourceful and compassionate.

Our President & CEO

“Don’t Move… Improve” – Ted Watkins 1922-1993

We taught the rest of the nation how to revolt. And now it’s upon us to teach the rest of the nation and the world how to use unity as the glue that holds us together and take the tools of cooperation and build that better future.” – Tim Watkins, WLCAC President and CEO

The Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) has been working with people in Watts to improve the quality of life since 1965. We hold the hands of people in need by providing a place to sleep, food to eat, money to earn and love to grow. Over the last 45 years, we have grown to hold more than 30,000 hands per year through the tireless commitment of dedicated staff and volunteers.

WLCAC led and won the community fight to build King Medical Center, Watts’ first credit union as well as its first major bank. WLCAC also spearheaded the launching of the first transportation, homeownership, and employment programs in the Watts Community.

And we are not resting on our laurels. The WLCAC continues to breathe new life into the community by:

  • Building McCoy Villa, Watts’ first and only state of the art major housing complex for homeless families
  • Cultivating South Los Angeles’ first farm (MudTown Farms), an urban agriculture initiative that will bring cutting edge economic and environmental sustainability to Watts
  • Adding to the only museum with a permanent civil rights exhibition in South Los Angeles
  • Creating Watts’ first public policy institute, dedicated to the study, planning and development of the Central Avenue Corridor and the surrounding area.

With Tim’s leadership WLCAC is growing as a cultural institution. He is also leading a much needed discussion on the concept of new local industry initiatives as potential solutions to long-term poverty and neglect.

WLCAC has stood the test of time and is firmly rooted in making life better in Watts, one person at a time.

Moving toward WLCAC’s 50th anniversary in 2015, Tim is excited about new opportunities, and determined to become an even better neighbor and partner with our beautiful Watts family.



Our Future

VISION: WLCAC envisions an economically and culturally rich community that is peaceful, healthy and a place where anyone would be happy to live, work or play.

Central Avenue Corridor Development

As WLCAC approaches its 50th Anniversary in the year 2015, a tremendous vision will be realized under its Cultural Development Initiative.

As WLCAC approaches its 50th Anniversary in the year 2015, a tremendous vision will be realized under its Cultural Development Initiative.

The preamble to this initiative states that “although other communities enjoy the capacity to enrich healthy cultures, the culture of Watts remains mired in abject poverty.”

Nevertheless, utilizing the tools of “literacy, mental health, nutrition, mobility, housing, education, community service and employment”

WLCAC has demonstrated over its 46 year lifespan that souls over-exposed to long-term poverty may in fact heal. The Cultural Development Initiative is a bold expansion of WLCAC programs from focus upon individual souls alone to reclamation of the community’s soul as a means of accelerating the healing process.

By establishing Watts as a unique place with its own authentic culture, we have found the means to achieve community transformation, as opposed to transplantation.


Watts Labor Community
Action Committee