East Bay Yesterday show

East Bay Yesterday

Summary: East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

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 “We were being erased”: The woman who saved California’s Black history | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:32:18

Delilah Beasley didn’t have much education or money, but when she saw that African Americans were being ignored by history books, she knew she had to do something. Beasley ended up spending nearly a decade interviewing elders and digging through crumbling archives to compile “The Negro Trailblazers of California,” a book that rescued dozens of notable Black figures from historical oblivion. However, Beasley didn’t just focus on the past. Her weekly Oakland Tribune column, “Activities among the Negroes,” documented the East Bay’s Black community at a time when positive portrayals of people of color in the media were almost nonexistent. This episode explores Beasley’s life as a historian and journalist through a conversation with the authors of “Trailblazer: Delilah Beasley’s California” (Published by Clockshop), a new work by Dana Johnson and Ana Cecilia Alvarez. We discuss Beasley’s motivation, her impact, and why her work still remains so valuable. To see more about this episode, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/we-were-being-erased/ East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 EBY Q&A: The Bay and beyond with Chris Carlsson | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 01:06:20

Since I’ve had to postpone my boat tours due to the Coronavirus crisis, I’ve decided to move the discussion about Bay history to the podcast. My guest is Chris Carlsson, who also leads boat tours on the Bay and just published “Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes & Radical Histories” (Pluto Press). Our conversation begins with the arrival of the Spanish in 1776 and then explores how subsequent waves of newcomers radically impacted native people and ecosystems, often in devastating ways. Although we take a critical look at colonization, we don’t dwell exclusively on tragedies. Since the rise of the Save the Bay movement, an activist campaign spearheaded by three Berkeley women, the Bay has transformed from a vast cesspool of human and industrial waste to the site of dozens of restoration projects that are expanding marsh habitats and enticing great numbers of fish, birds, and marine mammals to return. Against the backdrop of our current economic turmoil and political uncertainty, we look back at the Bay as a contested space, and try to find lessons in its ebbs and flows. To see more about this episode, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/eby-qa-8/ East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 EBY Q&A: How did it get so expensive to live here? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:50:11

How did the Bay Area’s housing crisis get so bad – and what might be done to solve it? These are the main questions Oakland-based New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty tackles in “Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America.” In addition to tracing the origins of policies that led to some of the most expensive property values in the nation, this wide-ranging book also follows the trajectories of families fighting massive rent increases, pro-development activists, besieged politicians and profit-seeking speculators. Refreshingly, Dougherty brings much-needed nuance to political battles that are often characterized by bitterness, hyperbole and scorched Earth-style Twitter wars. By exploring the many failures (and well-intentioned missteps) that led to this current shortage, the book offers a useful primer for anyone seeking to understand how Bay Area housing politics became so gridlocked and dysfunctional. “If there’s a rhyme to postwar history,” Dougherty writes. “It’s that whatever system we use, and whatever level of government is orchestrating it, when we think of cities as buildings and markets, and not collections of people, we are doomed to make the same mistakes.” Listen to the new episode to hear Conor Dougherty discuss what some of those mistakes were, why it’s so challenging to build affordable housing, the sharp rise in homelessness since the Reagan era, and much more To see images and links to related to this story, visit: eastbayyesterday.com/ East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 “OK, let’s go crazy”: How an unusual contest became the pride of Piedmont | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:32:21

In 1963, a Piedmont High science teacher decided to liven up biology class with a bird calling competition. This hatched an annual tradition that led to students shrieking and squawking in front of millions of TV viewers for nearly half a century. Today’s episode follows the trajectory of the Leonard J. Waxdeck Bird Calling Contest from the nest to the airwaves. How did this tiny enclave in the Oakland hills end up in the national spotlight for such a bizarre spectacle? Listen now to find out. Featuring interviews with: Piedmont High School librarian and Bird Calling Contest producer Kathryn Levenson and former participants Laurel Cecila, Joe Fendel, and Will Reicher. This episode is dedicated to the memory of Leonard J. Waxdeck. To see images and links to related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/ok-lets-go-crazy/ East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 Unfair housing: Why racism and real estate are so hard to untangle | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:34:54

In 1963, Northern California’s first African American State Assemblymember, Byron Rumford, championed a Fair Housing Act designed to prevent racial discrimination that severely limited where people of color could live. This bill, and the national laws it helped inspire, banned property owners from refusing to sell to potential buyers on the basis of race. As the Civil Rights movement gained momentum through these legislative victories, the end of segregation seemed within grasp. But now in 2020, amidst a tech-fueled real estate boom that’s sent home values soaring, the Bay Area is re-segregating as Black populations in wealthy areas dwindle and “neighborhoods with low pollution, high-quality schools and other resources have become increasingly inaccessible for African Americans.” In Byron Rumford’s former hometown of Berkeley, the percentage of African American residents has dropped from a high of nearly 25% during the 1970s to less than 10% today. The problem isn’t limited to California. According to The Center for Investigative Reporting, “a new epidemic of modern-day redlining has crept quietly across America. The gap in homeownership between African Americans and whites is now wider than it was during the Jim Crow era.” More than half a century after the Civil Rights Act was supposed to end housing discrimination the problem is getting worse in some ways. So what went wrong? The new episode explores this question through interviews with William Byron Rumford III, former California State Assemblymember E. Dotson Wilson, documentary filmmaker Doug Harris, and historian Ryan Reft. Listen now to learn what Byron Rumford’s story can tell us about why racism and real estate are so hard to untangle. To see images and links related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/unfair-housing/ East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 EBY Q&A: Leland Stanford, the original tech bro | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 01:29:38

It's almost impossible to image what Oakland would look like today if the Western terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad hadn't been established here in 1869. Where there had once been marshy wetlands, industry rushed in to build factories at this nexus of steel and sea. The railroad connected a broken country still recovering from the Civil War and solidified Oakland's position as a hub of global commerce, for better or worse. Oakland didn't choose this destiny for itself – the decision was made by "The Big Four," a cadre of robber barons who controlled the Central and Southern Pacific Railroad lines (and a host of related shell companies). This episode features an interview with Roland De Wolk, author of "American Disruptor: The Scandalous Life of Leland Stanford," a new book that explores the life of the man who served as president of the railroad companies as well as senator and governor of California. De Wolk also highlights undeniable parallels between the Big Four's predatory, monopolistic ethos and today's Silicon Valley business culture. The seed of Big Tech was planted by Leland Stanford and the university he founded. And just like during the Gilded Age, the East Bay is being impacted by tycoons disconnected from what their decisions mean to people living here. As Richard White, a Professor of American History at Stanford, wrote about the railroad bosses, “They laid hands on technology they did not understand, initiated sweeping changes, and saw these changes often take on purposes they did not intend.” To see photos related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/eby-qa-6/ East Bay Yesterday can't survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 “It wasn’t part of my childhood”: Chicano Power and the rise of Día de los Muertos in Oakland | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:28:43

Many Mexican-Americans growing up during the 1950s and ’60s had no awareness of Día de los Muertos. Due to the pressures of assimilation, relatively few Chicano families celebrated this ancient tradition, which combines elements of Christian and indigenous rituals. A new exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California, ¡El Movimiento Vivo! Chicano Roots of El Día de los Muertos, celebrates the resurrection of this holiday in the Fruitvale district and throughout California. As the Museum celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Día de los Muertos ceremonies, this episode explores connections between the rise of the Chicano Power movement and surging interest in Day of the Dead. Listen now to hear Fruitvale History Project co-founder Annette Oropeza and Latino mental health pioneer Roberto Vargas share memories of how they came to embrace Día de los Muertos, their concerns about its growing mainstream recognition, and much more. See photos and more here: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/it-wasnt-part-of-my-childhood/ Do you want more East Bay Yesterday? Please donate to help keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 EBY Q&A live: A wild ride through BART history | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:53:37

Why did BART come "within a gnat's eyelash" of being derailed by voters before the first track had ever been laid? How did Berkeley force BART to go underground? What's the deal with BART managers getting busted by FBI sting operations? All these questions and many more are answered in this week's episode, which was recorded live at the Oakland Public Library on October 9, 2019. Michael Healy, who was BART's spokesperson for 32 years and wrote "The Dramatic History of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System" (Heyday), shares an insider's look at the many triumphs, setbacks, and controversies that BART has faced since its mid-20th century inception. Listen now to hear the wide-ranging interview and audience Q&A. (Special thanks to Katie McMurran for recording this event.) East Bay Yesterday relies on listener support to survive. If you enjoy the episode, please donate: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 EBY Q&A: Betty Reid Soskin's century of chaos and hope | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:58:46

Betty Reid Soskin is a living link to America’s long history of slavery. As a young woman, her best friend was her great-grandmother, who was enslaved for the first two decades of her life. When Betty attended the inauguration of Barack Obama she carried a photo of her great-grandma in her breast pocket – and she also carried memories of the many struggles that led to the election of America’s first black president. In this episode, Betty Reid Soskin shares stories of growing up in Oakland during the 1920s “when the hills used to burn every year.” She traces her journey from working in a segregated union hall during World War II to co-founding one of the East Bay’s first Black record stores to becoming “America’s oldest National Park ranger” at the age of 85. And she explains how living for nearly a century has allowed her to see patterns in history that give her hope for the future. Even though Betty’s 98th birthday is approaching, she’s still incredibly active. She recently published an autobiography, “Sign My Name to Freedom,” she’ll be releasing an album of her music next year, and a documentary about her life “No Time to Waste” will be premiering throughout the Bay Area starting later this month. Plus, she’s still delivering her renowned presentations to sold-out crowds at Rosie the River WWII Homefront National Park several times per week. Betty has no plans to retire any time soon. “As long as there are faces in that audience who have never heard those stories, they simply come alive for me,” she told me during our interview. East Bay Yesterday relies on listener support to survive. If you enjoy the episode, please donate: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 EBY Q&A: 50 Years of free health care | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:32:49

As hippies and radicals flooded into Berkeley during the sixties, the city faced mounting public health problems that ranged from bad acid trips to riot injuries. The Berkeley Free Clinic launched in 1969 to provide no-cost treatment to those who couldn’t afford (or didn’t feel comfortable dealing with) the mainstream healthcare system. 50 years later, this volunteer-driven collective running on a shoestring budget out of the basement of a vacant church is still delivering free medical and dental services to thousands. Featuring interviews with volunteers Clay Carter and Scott Carroll, who is also a board member, this episode explores the Berkeley Free Clinic’s origins, its evolution, and what other healthcare providers can learn from this model. Anyone interested in learning more about the clinic’s history is welcome to attend the 50th Anniversary Party on Saturday August 24 at Live Oak Park, which will include an appearance by co-founders Susan Cady McAllister & Ellen Koteen. East Bay Yesterday relies on listener support to survive. If you enjoy the episode, please donate: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 Deep in Canyon, part 3: “A community of choice” | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:36:17

The previous episodes in this miniseries covered the early history of Canyon and this town’s fight for survival during the height of the hippie era. The conclusion of this trilogy explores this unusual little village’s trajectory since then. How did Canyon manage to transition out of the wild and experimental 1960s, while still holding onto many of the values that drew so many idealists out here? Listen now to find out. Bonus: Stay tuned after the credits to hear a cautionary tale about what *not* to do while tripping on psychedelics near an electric fence. If you enjoy the episode, please support East Bay Yesterday: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 EBY Q&A: The earth-shattering history of a small East Bay town | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:38:51

One of the Bay Area’s first business booms was the rapid growth of explosives manufacturing following the Gold Rush. The power of nitroglycerine and later dynamite enabled industrial-scale mining, continent-spanning railroads, and a total reshaping of California’s landscape. For many decades, the small Contra Costa town Hercules produced millions of tons of explosive chemicals that were used to move mountains, build cities, and wage wars. This episode features an interview with Stephen Lawton, a longtime resident of Hercules who co-authored a book all about his town’s earth-shattering history. If you enjoy the episode, please support East Bay Yesterday: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday For more info about the Hercules history, including a link to Stephen Lawton’s book “Hercules”: http://herculeshistory.org/

 EBY Q&A: Taking South Asian history to the streets | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:32:10

How can history be used to challenge hate crimes? For the past 7 years, Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee have been exploring questions like this through their Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tours. This episode covers some of the tour’s highlights and discusses the unpredictable nature of turning public streets into a classroom. Listen now to hear about the first South Asian LGBTQ publication, an influential anti-colonial movement, housing discrimination battles, and what Barnali and Anirvan think about Asians now outnumbering white people in Alameda County. To see photos and links related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/eby-qa-2/ If you enjoy the episode, please support East Bay Yesterday: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday For more info about the Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour: http://www.berkeleysouthasian.org/

 “I enjoyed every day”: A tribute to Ruth Beckford | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:36:44

Ruth Beckford was known as “the Dance Lady” because she mentored several generations of young women through her popular classes and introduced the Bay Area to Afro-Haitian styles with her electrifying performances. She also co-founded the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program, which FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” Ruth Beckford passed away on May 8, 2019. Reflecting on the diverse accomplishments of her former teacher and lifelong friend, Deborah Vaughan said “Ms. Beckford rode life until the wheels came off.” Although an iconic mural of Ms. Beckford will soon be covered by a new development, her 93 years of joy, activism and strength still loom large. This episode explores the life of a woman who collaborated with Maya Angelou, volunteered in women’s prisons, and much more. Featuring interviews conducted by the African American Museum & Library at Oakland and by Penny Peak for the Museum of Performance and Design, listen now for a powerful trip through nearly a century of Oakland history. To see photos and links related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/i-enjoyed-every-day/ To visit the African American Museum & Library at Oakland: http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/locations/african-american-museum-library-oakland To visit the Museum of Performance and Design: https://www.mpdsf.org/ If you enjoy the episode, please support East Bay Yesterday: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

 EBY Q&A: How to do nothing in Oakland with Jenny Odell | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:49:11

Jenny Odell wrote that her inspiration for “How to Do Nothing” was “grounded in a particular location, and that is the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses in Oakland, California.” Odell’s countless hours observing birds and other wildlife in this quiet neighborhood park led to the creation of her new book, which The New Yorker praised for “elegantly aligning the crisis in our natural world and the crisis in our minds.” For the first episode of East Bay Yesterday recorded in front of a live audience, I interviewed Jenny about how she challenges the “placelessness” that’s becoming ever more ubiquitous in our digital world. Honoring the book’s theme of “reconnecting with the world around us,” we discussed Chapel of the Chimes, the joys of AC Transit, Oakland’s oldest tree, and much more. [Big thank you to EM. Wolfman Bookstore for hosting and Katie McMurran for recording this conversation.] To see more information about this episode, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/eby-qa-live/ If you enjoy the episode, please support East Bay Yesterday: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday


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