California Studies Association

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UCB California Studies Dinner Seminar: Tony Platt, ” What’s in an Icon?: The Political Journeys of Elizabeth “Betita” Sutherland Martinez” October 16, 2014

Tony Platt will speak on the long life and remarkable career of San Francisco-based writer and activist Elizabeth Sutherland Martinez on Thursday, October 16. Platt, who teaches at San Jose State, is the author of works on race, inequality, and social justice in American history. He has known Betita Sutherland Martinez for more than 35 years and will discuss her career and political activism stretching back to the late 1940s. The session is held at the UCB Institute for Labor Research and Education, 2521 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph) from 7 to 9 p.m. Free admission and dinner.
RSVP: Myra Armstrong, zulu2@berkeley.edu, 510-643-3012

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William Issel on Catholic politics in San Francisco

For a great review of Bill Issel’s new book, nose on over to Chris Carlsson’s Nowtowpian blog…

San Francisco’s much touted reputation as a bastion of liberal tolerance has an unexpected foundation in of all things, the Catholic Church! It’s a complicated tale involving the emergence of a liberal cross-class majority in favor of economic growth and individual rights that has important issel book coverroots in Catholic doctrine. By the last quarter of the 20th century the same liberalism that had prevailed as a manifestation of a “vital political center” had sown the seeds of its own demise. The dominance of Catholic morality over politicians, police, business, and labor leaders began eroding under the pressure of the post-war demographic changes in San Francisco. By the time the Soviet Union finally dissolved in 1991, liberalism had already lost its defining purpose (anti-communism combined with a capitalist-friendly regime of limited labor and human rights), while in San Francisco, the liberals had long become fused with elite business interests in their pursuit of a growth economy based on white-collar finance, real estate, medicine, tourism, and technology.

William Issel does a wonderful job of revealing and analyzing this history in his 2013 book Church and State in the City: Catholics and Politics in Twentieth-Century San Francisco (Temple University Press). Rooted in the early 20th century’s labor movement, then dominated by Irish Catholics (and to a much lesser extent Italian and Latin American Catholics), “native sons” of San Francisco’s Mission District born between 1890 and 1930 played an extraordinarily influential role in the political and social development of San Francisco up to the 1970s.

Read the rest here….