During the 50th anniversary commemorations of the Summer of Love, join local historian Chris Carlsson (Shaping San Francisco) as he excavates important antecedents to the events of that much-celebrated period. Importantly, civil rights struggles shaped the history in ways that we tend to overlook.
While far from the more famous locales of civil rights protests in the South, San Francisco too faced a restive African American community at the beginning of the 1960s. Sit-ins at hotels, restaurants, and auto dealers during 1963 and 1964 opened up employment in previously segregated workplaces. Housing discrimination was banned by the state legislature only to have it reinstated by popular initiative, and then overturned for good by the state Supreme Court. Martial law and National Guard patrols came to the black neighborhoods of San Francisco only a few months before 1967 after white police killed a young African American man they believed had stolen a car. Struggles over history and curriculum began to boil at San Francisco State College and UC Berkeley, leading by 1968 to major student strikes and shockingly violent conflict on campuses around the Bay Area.
From the first crack in the edifice of Catholic public morality struck by the 1957 victory of City Lights and Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” against efforts to censor the book, to sexually risqué art in local galleries, to Lenore Kandel’s 1966 book of explicit poetry “The Love Book,” sexual liberation was on the march against decades of public puritanism. A new boldness was taking shape among Gay, Lesbian, and transgendered people on behalf of their own civil rights so long denied—still largely centered in Polk Gulch and the Tenderloin—particularly in their resistance to police shakedowns and harrassment.
Across the city, old rules were being challenged, and old passivities thrown aside in favor of a more contentious and self-confident, self-directed way to live. All these threads came together just after the middle of the decade, colliding with the front edge of the post-WWII baby boom, to create the social and political space that in 1967 was labeled the Summer of Love.
Chris Carlsson, co-director of the “history from below” project Shaping San Francisco (historical archive at foundsf.org), is a writer, publisher, editor, and frequent public speaker. He has written two books (After the Deluge, Nowtopia) edited six books, (Reclaiming San Francisco; The Political Edge; Bad Attitude; Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Defiant Celebration;Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco, 1968-78; and Shift Happens: Critical Mass at 20). He redesigned and co-authored an expanded Vanished Waters: A History of San Francisco’s Mission Bay. He has produced weekly public Talks since January 2006. He also conducts award-winning bicycle history tours. He has given hundreds of public presentations based on Shaping San Francisco, Critical Mass, Nowtopia, Vanished Waters, and his “Reclaiming San Francisco” history anthologies since the late 1990s, and has appeared dozens of times in radio, television and on the internet.
More on Shaping San FranciscoTicket Information
Programming and general admission to the permanent collection galleries are free of charge during Friday Nights at the de Young. Free tickets to the lecture will be distributed starting at 6 p.m. at the Koret Auditorium entrance (street level).
Pricing still applies to visit the special exhibitions The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll and Stuart Davis: In Full Swing.
at DeYoung Museum
Golden Gate Park 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, United States