The Bay Area Radical History Project is an ongoing series of public talks focusing on Bay Area activism from 1980 to the present. The project designed to connect current activists with pioneers who are still active in the Bay Area.
The series kicked off on February 28 and the presentations are a mixture of panels, short films, and speakers, with priority paid to presenters who participated in the events and movements being discussed. Specific details on each presentation will be listed as they become available.
Spring 2014 events are at Sole Space, 1714 Telegraph Avenue (btwn. 17th& 19th), Oakland, 1 block from 19th Street BART
Follow us on Facebook for updates to the schedule.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 7 PM
“Behind Every Fee Increase, A Line of Riot Cops”: Anti-Austerity Movements in California Public Higher Education from 2009-2013
Presented by Chris Chen and Jasper Bernes
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/720495044650929
The privatization of colleges and universities across the US has not only meant runaway growth of student tuition and debt, but also driven the radical expansion of the ranks of adjunct instructors who now perform nearly 3/4 of all teaching and who are primarily women and people of color. Total student debt stands at $1.2 trillion dollars, with African American and Latino/a students with a significantly increased need to borrow and rates of default. In the aftermath of the 2008 global economic crisis, California public higher education has been both the target of catastrophic state disinvestment and heroic anti-privatization efforts from public university students, staff, and some faculty from community colleges to the UC system.
After a wave of walkouts, sit-ins, strikes, and building occupations erupted across the UC system in the Fall of 2009, then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office announced the UC protests as the “tipping point” for the restoration of about $300 million dollars of higher education funding. Subsequent protests in 2011 forced a delay in the implementation of an 80% fee increase. Why was the sequence of protests and mobilizations so effective? What were some of the tensions and conflicts within the coalition of anti-privatization forces from 2009 onward? And how are struggles around California public higher education proceeding today?
Berkeley South Asian Radical History
South Asians have been organizing in Northern California for over a century, but the community’s stories of resistance often get hidden behind model minority stereotypes. Discover the local legacies of intersectional immigrant rights, feminist, LGBT, and anti-racist organizing by Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan Americans in Berkeley, which developed parallel to and in conversation with other contemporary movements.
Presented by Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee, curators of the Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour, from which this is excerpted. Catch upcoming runs of the full tour at www.BerkeleySouthAsian.org.
Labor Struggles panel – organized by Sam Levens and Fred Sherburn-ZImmer
UC Student Organizing – 2009 to the present
History of the Long Haul - organized by Jesse Palmer
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This series will continue monthly! If you would like to organize a presentation, please contact Jen.
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Past 2013 Events:
October 22: A Decade of Displacement: The Housing Wars of the 1990s Revisited
Throughout the 1990s, Bay Area activists confronted the first wave of dot.com displacement on multiple fronts, ranging from direct action to grassroots electoral uprisings. Despite some impressive organizing victories, the overall war against gentrification was lost. Join Fernando Marti (ex-Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition) and James Tracy (ex-Eviction Defense Network) in a discussion about what it takes to fight for a city from below. The stories of squatters, home-defenders, populist politicians,land reformers and public housing residents will be told through a slideshow presentation of protest posters from the era. Together we will explore ideas confronting today’s antagonists of displacement:
- With Real Estate Industry strategies tied to global investment patterns, is there any such thing as a local solution to displacment?
- Is it possible to combine Direct Action and engagement in the local electoral process?
- Is land-reform in the global city even possible?
October 1: “Nothing About Us, Without Us”: history of harm reduction struggle from illegality to mainstream public health.
Since the beginning of needle exchange in San Francisco on Day of the Dead 1988, as underground direct action HIV-prevention, the Bay Area has been at the cutting edge of ‘harm reduction’ practice. Over the last 25 years, the local and international movement has pushed these practices and this philosophy into the mainstream of public health, where it has confronted inevitable issues of institutionalization/bureaucratization and the dilution of the grassroots, user and peer-led horizontalism that lent the movement some of its early strength and depth. Hear the history of these pioneering programs: how they originated, their successes and ongoing pressures, and where to next. Presentation organized by Sarah Koster and Bob Thawley.
April 11: Anti Nuclear Direct Action Movement; Horizontal & Prefigurative Direct Action Theory and Practice. Images and stories on Facebook. An audio recording of this presentation is here.
In the wake of the Viet Nam War a mass grassroots anti-nuclear power and weapons movement rose up across the United States. Drawing on ecology, feminism, Civil Rights and anarchist organizing people pioneered new practices and theories of social change organizing in the US: horizontal decentralized network organizing; affinity groups, clusters and spokescouncils; consensus decision-making and feminist process; skills trainings and shared leadership; jail solidarity and mass nonviolent direct action. Richard Nixon had pledged to build 1000 nuclear power plants in the US by the year 2000. Massive grassroots organizing and mass direct action stopped the industry and kept nearly 880 US reactors unbuilt. Today, just over a hundred operate. No US reactor ordered since 1974 has been completed. Calling to “DECENTRALIZE POWER” the movement popularized ideas and practices of renewable, not-for-profit, locally controlled energy. In the early 1980′s the Anti-Nuclear Direct Action Movement became the cutting edge of the nuclear disarmament movement, in which millions took to the streets to confront US empire’s deployment of first strike nuclear missiles across Europe, escalating against the Soviet empire and tens of thousands took direct action across North America and Europe.
Creating models of organizing and culture of direct action that continue today, the Bay Area was key hub for this movement.
April 25: 1989 Anarchist Gathering “Without Borders.” Images and stories on Facebook
Almost 25 years ago, 3000 Anarchists came together in San Francisco for the 4th annual Anarchist gathering. A conference by OWN (Obnoxious Wimmin’s Network) in Oakland preceded it. Some of the main themes were anti-racism, anti-sexism and gentrification. Anarchist theory, prisoner support, the environment, and the war on drugs. Whether or not to have an action and what tactics would be used were sources of contention.
This gathering and the ones that preceded it were an amazing experience for many of us. Particularly those of us who were younger felt that we were part of a scene that was more connected and larger than it had been in recent history. These gatherings spread ideas, tactics and projects that inspired us and continue to define anarchist politics to this day such as Food not Bombs, Anti-racist Action, black bloc tactics, and Love and Rage.
The larger historical backdrop was the waning of Soviet power, and end to the Cold War that some of us dared hope might mean an end to US domination as well. Large scale resistance to the IMF/World Bank in Berlin, rioting in cities across the globe including at the DNC and RNC the year before were our inspiration. Anti-abortion Christians, skinheads and a president named Bush were our enemy.
March 28: AIDS Activism and Beyond: Radical Queer Politics of the ’80s & 90′s / Kate Raphael
Photos and posts on the Facebook event page, (plus links to Kate’s videos here and here)
The AIDS activist and LGBT liberation movements have seen some of the most successful direct action campaigns of the last 30 years. A number of recent films, including United in Anger and How to Survive a Plague, focus on the extraordinary contribution of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. But ACT UP was not born into a vacuum in 1988, nor did it disappear into a triple-cocktail-induced mist in 1996. Using images and video, Kate Raphael facilitated a discussion on the continuity of radical queer politics from the anti-Vietnam War movement through the antinuclear and antiwar movements of the seventies and eighties through the Palestine solidarity movement of the last decade. This presentation did not merely iconize the successes of these movements but reflected on its strengths and weaknesses, and how it can be replicated.
February 28,: History of Dissent in SF
Trace the vital history of political dissent in San Francisco with Chris Carlsson, using the FoundSF collection to connect past movements with today’s.
May 9 – 1990 Anti War Organizing (Desert Storm) – organized by Eddie Yuen. The period from the early 80s to the early 90s was a time of powerful and effective social movements against US “interventions” and wars around the world. The mobilizations against the first “Gulf War” of 1991 were especially massive and diverse, and nowhere in the US had larger mobilizations than the Bay Area. Eddie Yuen will show the film “3 Days of Rage” by Mike Kavanagh and facilitate a discussion of the anti-war protests of this period. Other participants in the movements of this period will be present.
“3 Days of Rage” is a 30 minute documentary on the massive SF protests against the first Gulf War in 1991. Featuring footage of the infamous 6-hour Bay Bridge takeover!
May 23 – 1990 Redwood Summer / Earth First / Forest Defense -
Photos on Facebook
Redwood Summer, a summer of civil disobedience actions organized out of base camps in 1990 in the forests of Northern California, was Earth First!’s first foray into mass organizing, and changed the course of the Headwaters Forest Campaign and other grassroots forest defense campaigns. It also took place in the context of the FBI targeting of Earth First!, the bomb attack on Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney and the hotly factional “Timber Wars” as timber corporations cut their workers out of their jobs. This presentation is organized by Karen Pickett, with Earth First! since 1983 was one of the Bay Area organizers of these forest campaigns and worked closely with Judi Bari throughout that era.