Talking to (and teaching) children about the Los Angeles riots

Apr 25, 2012

One of a series of photographs taken by photographer Gary Leonard and his fourteen-year-old son, David Leonard, during the Los Angeles Riots, 1992. Credit: Gary and David Leonard

A sizable number of Angelenos weren’t even born when the riots occurred 20 years ago. For them it’s old news – scratch that, it’s history. Given that it’s not easy to have a substantive conversation with children about abstract concepts like violence and racism, how does one begin to teach or talk to kids about what happened in 1992? How are schools teaching the lessons of this defining event to the children of people who witnessed it firsthand?

The Los Angeles Unified School District does not have a set curriculum in place to teach this portion of L.A.’s history, but we’re guessing that many Patt Morrison listeners and individual educators have their own approaches. Join us with your comments and questions as we talk with photographer Gary Leonard and his then fourteen-year-old son, artist David Leonard, about their unique experience photographing the events in the weeks between April 29 and May 9, 1992, as well as several educators who teach the riots in their classroom.

On April 29 from 12 to 5 p.m., Gary Leonard and his son, David Leonard, will display works as part of “Parker Center,” their LA Riots retrospective at the Take My Picture gallery in Downtown Los Angeles.


How do you remember explaining what was happening to your children at the time? How do you explain it now? If you were a child or teenager, what do you remember understanding?


Gary Leonard, photographer; director, Take My Picture Gallery; columnist, LA Observed; father

David Leonard, media artist, photographer, and son

Jerry Freedman, AP U.S. History teacher, LA County High School for the Arts

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