California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

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Book Review: A Trayvon of another time….

Author and UCLA historian Brenda Stevenson had no way of knowing that her new book, The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins:  Justice Gender and the Origins of the L.A. Riots, would be so tragically timely.  The headlines she dissects could have been written about the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida – but this innocent teen was gunned down more than two decades ago in a corner store in Compton.

Brenda Stevenson, The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Justice Gender and the Origins of the L.A. Riots, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Book Cover: The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins (2013)

Book Cover: The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins (2013)

Review by Elaine Elinson

The unarmed African American teenager was shot and killed.  The shooter, claiming self-defense, served not one minute of jail time.

The sorrow, anger and disbelief in the Black community was palpable.  One mother wrote to the daily newspaper that she feared the justice system has “told us it is open season on our children.”

This might have been last month’s headline about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder case in Florida.  It actually happened more than two decades ago, across the country in Los Angeles.

Just two weeks after the brutal beating of Rodney King Continue reading

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California essay contest – call for entries

Stag Hunt Enterprises has announced their “Argonaut’s Challenge” – an essay contest exploring how current technologies might revolutionize specific opportunities within California’s bureaucracy. The best essay in each topic will win $1000 prize, get published in the inaugural Summer Stag Hunt, and earn a royalty share as specified in the Contest Agreement.

Desired subjects include quintessentially California issues, such as the Budget, CEQA, Education, and Water: “How might interactive GIS, data visualization and other information technologies be leveraged to transform California’s tangled water jurisdictions?”


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New book on California’s coast

Richmond author and environmental activist Dave Helvarg will release his newest title from St. Martin’s Press, The Golden Shore – California’s Love Affair with the Sea,  February 19th. He’ll be doing book tours up and down the state, look for him.



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Public talk – FBI, Mario Savio, Reagan, and Clark Kerr

Bay Area investigative journalist Seth Rosenfeld’s long-awaited and controversial book Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power is now out. Please come to a public presentation with the author and fellow traveller journalist Lowell Bergman Wednesday, September 19, 7 PM-8:30 PM

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; RSVP suggested.

The book examines the FBI’s covert operations concerning UC during the Cold War, and its activities regarding Clark Kerr, Mario Savio and Ronald Reagan. The book was on the S.F. Chronicle best seller list, and on the New York Times extended best seller list.

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Civil Liberties in SF

For those of you in the SF Bay Area, this is an event you won’t want to miss! It’s FREE and open to the public!

Civil Liberties in San Francisco with Stan Yogi and Elaine Elinson

Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 6:00pm

Join Stan Yogi and Elaine Elinson, co-authors of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, 2010 Gold Medal winner in the California Book Awards.

Wherever There’s a Fight captures the sweeping story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. It connects the experiences of early Chinese immigrants subjected to discriminatory laws and expulsion to those of African Americans who challenged the color bar on San Francisco Streetcars and workers who fought for union contracts on the docks and in the fields.

With vivid, illustrated stories, the authors will take you on a tour of key civil liberties sites in San Francisco – places you may have passed every day without realizing the hidden history they hold. They will also share some treasures they found in the archives of the California Historical Society.

For more information visit the California Historical Society.