Talks: Historical Perspectives / 2010-2012

Primary Source

Shaping San Francisco hosts Public Talks on a variety of topics on Wednesday nights, about 18 times a year. One recurrent theme has been Historical Perspectives, which covers all sorts of topics that delve into our shared and disputed understandings of what shaped our world. Here are the Talks we held at CounterPULSE at 1310 Mission Street in 2010 and 2011, and at 518 Valencia Street in 2012.

December 12, 2012

Old City Hall: Corruption & Racism in 19th Century San Francisco

Glenn Lym presents an architectural and political history of the 27-year project of building the original City Hall, a building that fell down in the 1906 earthquake, revealing deeply inadequate and corrupt building practices. Meanwhile, when contruction began in the 1870s, the white working class was raging against capitalism and the Chinese in equal parts, providing the impetus for the 1882 federal Chinese Exclusion Act. Chris Carlsson will join the conversation to connect the social and physical histories.

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July 17, 2012

Bristol Radical History Group “History From Below”

Roger Wilson of the Bristol Radical History group gives a wide-ranging Talk covering 17th and 18th century history around Bristol, England, including a debunking of the common narrative of the anti-slavery movement, putting the working people of England back into the saga. He also gives a fresh look of the mass riots of 1831, and brings the interventions of the Bristol Radical History Group in our era into the unfolding of "history from below." If you want to find out what unites a 17th Century blasphemous preacher and some drunken Can-Can dancers give a listen.

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May 30, 2012

FoundSF: Dissent

Trace the vital history of political dissent in San Francisco with Chris Carlsson, using our FoundSF collection to connect past movements with today's, with a focus on the anti-nuclear and anti-war movements of the 1970s and 1980s through the today's Occupy movement. This will be the final Shaping San Francisco Talk at CounterPULSE, ending our 7th season.

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May 2, 2012

Mat Callahan presents the "James Connolly--Songs of Freedom" project

Musician and author, Mat Callahan, presents the James Connolly-Songs of Freedom project. "Songs of Freedom" is a collection of lyrics edited by Irish revolutionary, James Connolly, and published in New York in 1907. Its rediscovery and revival is a project undertaken by Callahan and a group of Irish, American and Swiss musicians. Tonight's event will include an account of how this project began as well as a performance of some of the songs. Callahan will discuss Connolly's contribution to art and politics with a special emphasis on its relevance to the struggle for freedom today.

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April 25, 2012

Radically Gay: Harry Hay, LGBT pioneer

Harry Hay was a co-founder of the Mattachine Society, participant in the San Francisco General Strike of 1934, organizer of the first Radical Faerie Gathering. Harry Hay was at the heart of arts, activism, spirituality and sexual identities in the 20th century. Learn about this amazing man and discuss his legacies today. With Will Roscoe, editor of "Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of its Founder--Harry Hay" (Beacon Press: 1996), and Joey Cain, curator of the new exhibit on Harry Hay at the Main SF Public Library, opening April 26.

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January 18, 2012

The Vietnam War Continues

Enforcing the Silence, Tony Nguyen’s film about Vietnamese community in the U.S., explores silence and loss in the tragic story of a young community worker who may have been murdered for expressing his political beliefs. Lam Duong founded the Vietnamese Youth Development Center in San Francisco and published a liberal newspaper that reprinted stories from communist Vietnam following the Vietnam War. On July 21, 1981, the 27-year-old was shot dead outside his apartment in broad daylight. Within days of Lam’s murder, news spread that a shadowy, anti-communist group had claimed responsibility, sending a chilling message to Vietnamese refugees everywhere: stay in line with your political views or risk death. Between 1982 and 1990, five more Vietnamese Americans – four of them journalists – were violently killed, many believe for political reasons. Thirty years later, new filmmaker uncovers truths that Vietnamese Americans have never publicly explored. Listen to the discussion following the film.

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December 14, 2011

Centennial Anniversary! Women Get the Vote!

2011 marks the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in California, making it the sixth state, or the Sixth Star, to recognize women as political actors. LisaRuth Elliott and Sue Englander tell us about these women, their collective organizing strategies, the nexus between movements, voting, and class issues, the connection to Spiritualism in the United States, and their previous attempt in 1896 to convince voting men to amend the State Constitution.

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November 30, 2011

The History of the Future

Megan Prelinger’s book Another Science Fiction takes a whimsical look at how the Space Race was promoted during its heyday 1957-62, offering a pointed look into a twisted type of corporate “utopian” thinking that informed a whole generation. Meanwhile, Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing and Chris Carlsson’s After The Deluge both present alternative utopian futures for San Francisco a century or more in the future. Join the conversation with these three authors as they ponder utopias and dystopias, imagination and revolution, and the power of social movements and propaganda to shape different futures. (Unfortunately the recording failed between the introduction and near the beginning of the 2nd speaker, Chris Carlsson, so Megan Prelinger's presentation is not in this recording, though she does appear during the Q&A with the audience on several occasions. Our deepest apologies for this technical failure and resultant omission.)

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October 12, 2011

Reimagining Market Street

A discussion with Chris Carlsson and Tom Radulovich about the future of Market Street is taking place in many forums in the City, preparing the way for a new boulevard in 2015. The history of Market Street is peppered with architectural and social solutions that have not worked out as planned. We take a look at the long history of Market Street and San Francisco, the various momentous and controversial redesigns that have happened over the decades, question the assumptions about urban design that underly the current municipal discussions, and set the stage for a discussion of what's coming. Thanks to Rick Prelinger, for providing videos of life on Market Street from the early 20th century to more recent decades.

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May 11, 2011

A Virtual Civil Liberties Tour of San Francisco

Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi, authors of Wherever There’s a Fight — How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, (winner of the 2010 Gold Medal in Californiana from the California Book Awards) show historic and contemporary images of places you may have walked by every day, without realizing the civil liberties battles that were fought there. Learn about a bold African-American woman who refused to give up her seat on a streetcar almost a century before Rosa Parks, the Chinese laundry owner who fought discriminatory laws up to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the man who defied President Roosevelt’s incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

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January 19, 2011

Before (and After) the Car: San Francisco's Transit History

Historian Chris Carlsson presents vivid account of how San Franciscans moved around this peninsula through time: walking through the sand, horse-drawn stagecoaches, Clipper ships and shanghaiing, cable cars, ghosts of train routes and former freeways, plus the role of mass bicycle rides in both the 19th and 20th centuries.

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January 12, 2011

Rick Prelinger's Lost Landscapes of Detroit

How can we use history to make a positive intervention in a complex, troubled city that is working hard to build its future? LOST LANDSCAPES OF DETROIT (2010, 70 mins.) presents a diverse and vibrant city from 1917 through 1970 as it grew and changed, showing its residents, their activities and the places they lived and work, many now gone. Avoiding trendy "ruin porn," the show aims to blend nostalgia and provocation. This was first presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) in winter 2010. Like other LOST LANDSCAPES events, much of the source material is silent and the audience is cordially invited to make the soundtrack through questions, comments, identifications, and discussion.

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January 13, 2010

Prohibition in San Francisco: Then and Now

With Dick Boyd, author of Broadway, North Beach, The Golden Years: A Saloon Keeper's Tales and former owner of Pierre's, a bar in North Beach from 1960-65; Sean Lavon Nash; and Michael Whitson, a marijuana prohibition expert, compare the alcohol Prohibition of the 1920s-30s to the contemporary prohibition on marijuana.

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