The Essential Cesar Chavez Day Reading List

This Tuesday, March 31 marks Cesar Chavez Day. The University of California Press is proud to have published broadly on this important labor and civil rights leader. From first-hand accounts of working side-by-side with Cesar Chavez to an examination of the charismatic leader as a religious figure, the books here present the full and rich life of one of our nation’s most important labor and civil rights figures.

Sal Si Puedes, by Peter Matthiessen

In the summer of 1968 Peter Matthiessen met Cesar Chavez for the first time. They were the same age: forty-one. Matthiessen lived in New York City, while Chavez lived in the Central Valley farm town of Delano, where the grape strike was unfolding. This book is Matthiessen’s panoramic yet finely detailed account of the three years he spent working and traveling with Chavez, including to Sal Si Puedes, the San Jose barrio where Chavez began his organizing. Matthiessen provides a candid look into the many sides of this enigmatic and charismatic leader who lived by the laws of nonviolence.

A new foreword by Marc Grossman considers the significance of Chavez’s legacy for our time. As well as serving as an indispensable guide to the 1960s, this book rejuvenates the extraordinary vitality of Chavez’s life and spirit, giving his message a renewed and much-needed urgency.

The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez, by Luis D. León

This book maps and challenges many of the mythologies that surround the late iconic labor leader. Focusing on Chavez’s own writings, León argues that La Causa can be fruitfully understood as a quasi-religious movement based on Chavez’s charismatic leadership, which he modeled after Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. By refocusing Chavez’s life and beliefs into three broad movements—mythology, prophecy, and religion—León brings us a moral and spiritual agent to match the political leader.

From the Jaws of Victory, by Matthew Garcia

This is the most comprehensive history ever written on the meteoric rise and precipitous decline of the United Farm Workers, the most successful farm labor union in United States history. Based on little-known sources and one-of-a-kind oral histories with many veterans of the farm worker movement, this book revises much of what we know about the UFW.

Beyond the Fields, by Randy Shaw

Much has been written about Chavez and the United Farm Worker’s heyday in the 1960s and ’70s, but left untold has been their ongoing impact on 21st century social justice movements. This book describes how Chavez and the UFW’s imprint can be found in the modern reshaping of the American labor movement, the building of Latino political power, the transformation of Los Angeles and California politics, the fight for environmental justice, and the burgeoning national movement for immigrant rights.

Delano, by John Gregory Dunne

In September 1965, Filipino and Mexican American farm workers went on strike against grape growers in and around Delano, California. More than a labor dispute, the strike became a movement for social justice that helped redefine Latino and American politics. The strike also catapulted its leader, Cesar Chavez, into prominence as one of the most celebrated American political figures of the twentieth century. More than forty years after its original publication, Delano: The Story of the California Grape Strike, based on compelling first-hand reportage and interviews, retains both its freshness and its urgency in illuminating a moment of unusually significant social ferment.


Join Us At The 2015 Organization of American Historians Meeting!

The University of California Press steamboat is chugging up the Mississippi River to the 2015 Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting. The meeting convenes April 16-19 in St. Louis.

Please visit us at booth 315 in America’s Center to purchase our latest American history publications for the following offers:

  • 30% conference discount and free worldwide shipping
  • Submit exam copy requests for course adoption for your upcoming classes
  • Win $100 worth of books! Join our eNews subscription

While at our booth, explore our new and award winning titles in United States history for your research and courses. We’ll also offer subscription rates for our history journals.

Please see our conference program ad for our latest offerings. Acquisitions and marketing staff will be available for your publishing questions.

Follow #OAH2015 and @The_OAH for current meeting news.


Visit Us at the 2015 American Society for Environmental History Conference!

Join University of California Press this spring in the nation’s capital for the 2015 American Society for Environmental History Annual Meeting. The meeting convenes March 18-22 in Washington, DC.

Please visit our table in the Washington Marriott Georgetown to purchase our latest Environmental History publications for the following offers:

  • 30% conference discount and free worldwide shipping
  • Submit exam copy requests for course adoption for your upcoming classes
  • Win $100 worth of books! Join our eNews subscription

Our Environmental History list is comprised of a broad selection of titles ideal for research and courses. Our groundbreaking authors and award winning titles explore topics within natural history, geography, world history, and ecological studies.

Please see our conference program ad for our latest offerings. Acquisitions staff will be available for your publishing questions.

Check out #aseh2015 and #envhist for current meeting news.


Skiing into Modernity

By Andrew Denning

This guest post is published in advance of the American Society for Environmental History conference in Washington, DC. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference them, Turning Protest into Policy. Come back for new posts every weekday until March 19th.

Andrew Denning

When it comes to the sport—and business—of Alpine skiing, translating protest into policy has proven exceedingly difficult. From the earliest appearance of the sport, a cohort of skiers protested the deleterious effects of hundreds and thousands of skiers making their way down the mountainside. The sport presented a Faustian bargain: it connected skiers with nature, yet by virtue of its immense popularity, befouled the environment. Complaints about the alienation of the sport from nature only became more vociferous in the post-World War II era, when lift networks, landscape modifications, and mechanical snow production recast the sport as a consumable product for millions of middle-class tourists.

In the context of Alpine Europe, French communities proved particularly adept at catering to the needs of modern skiers, constructing purpose-built resorts such as Courchevel and Les Arcs to serve winter tourists. Traditionalist skiers, the directors of more established resorts in Switzerland and Austria, and environmental advocates alike lamented the alienation of the sport from nature, but the immense profitability of these French resorts muted such claims.

Protest only became policy when the market became saturated in the 1970s. As profits slowed, many began to question the refashioning of the French Alps to suit the needs of winter tourists. The French President, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing voiced these concerns in 1977 in a speech at the Alpine commune of Vallouise, stating, “If the human wasteland expands, the touristic attraction [of the mountains] will lessen considerably. The urbanite looks to the mountain for contact with untamed nature… Enough with technocratic visions for development in the mountains. Think of people, think of mankind.”

In the context of the more austere economic climate of the 1970s and growing questions about the impact of Alpine skiing on nature, the construction of new resorts has slowed from the industry’s halcyon days of France’s postwar trente glorieuses. Only after the economic incentives of unchecked development collapsed did environmental protest influence development policy.

 

Andrew Denning is a postdoctoral fellow in history at the University of British Columbia and the author of Skiing into Modernity. His work has been published at The Atlantic.

 


The Rise of Eco-Cities

By Julie Sze

This guest post is published in advance of the American Society for Environmental History conference in Washington, DC. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference them, Turning Protest into Policy. Come back for new posts every weekday until March 19th.

My book, Fantasy Islands: Chinese Dreams and Ecological Fears in an Age of Climate Crisis, examines the eco-city phenomenon through a case study of four recent ecological developments in Shanghai. The book is focused on two main questions: what does the rise of eco-cities in both government policy and popular imagination mean; and what does the eco-city phenomenon mean in China, and in the United States. My initial interest was sparked by my family connection to Chongming Island, where Dongtan Eco-city was proposed, and which seemed an utterly improbable place to site a high-tech ecotopian city.

In attempting to understand why and how eco-city developments are flourishing, especially in China, I develop a concept of eco-desire. Elsewhere, I have written about the intellectual history of the eco-city.[1] These eco-desires are complex, and competing, in different national, regional and racial contexts, but the broadest reasoning behind eco-desire is to address anxiety in the face of global climate change.

My first book, Noxious New York, focused on environmental justice activism in New York City, and is connected to the conference theme of “Turning Protest into Policy.” Rather than a US centered narrative of eco-Davids fighting corporate Goliaths, the narrative here is fundamentally different. That difference is not in and of itself surprising given the Chinese Communist Party’s power and much more extensive suppression of protest movements- environmental or otherwise. But in many ways, the stories in Shanghai and New York City are deeply interwoven. They are linked through the focus on place, power, globalization, privatization, and the emergent urban discourse of sustainability. The question that remains, after the bells and whistles of techno-utopian fantasies: is what does sustainability mean, how and for whom?

[1] https://criticalsustainabilities.sites.ucsc.edu/eco-city-branding/

 

Julie Sze is Associate Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Environmental Justice Project for the John Muir Institute for the Environment at UC Davis.

 


Turning Protest into Policy in the Indus Basin

By David Gilmartin

This guest post is published in advance of the American Society for Environmental History conference in Washington, DC. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference them, Turning Protest into Policy. Come back for new posts every weekday until March 19th.

David Gilmartin

The history of the Indus river basin in the last 150 years provides one of the modern world’s great stories of regional environmental transformation. This arid region, now split between India and Pakistan, was transformed under British colonial rule into the largest integrated irrigation system in the world. Some have called the result a “hydraulic society,” tying livelihoods and control over nature to a massive, state-controlled engineering bureaucracy delivering water to tens of thousands of canal outlets. Yet the story of irrigator resistance and accommodation to the operation of this huge system suggests a more complex story relating to how protest and policy have shaped the Indus basin’s modern history.

Resistance and protest—and the policy shifts that have followed in their wake—have played an important role in shaping the evolution of this system. Irrigator protests were most successful when they played on the fissures within the state’s own legitimizing ideologies to press their demands. Widespread protests against intrusive colonial water regulations seriously shook the system in 1907, and sporadic local protests continued long after. Policy responses to these protests reflected longstanding internal debates within the state itself, marked by appeals to the state’s own, often contradictory, legitimizing principles. The British had mobilized engineering science and expertise to justify new forms of control over both nature and over the irrigators, but they had also long claimed to protect “custom” as a key legitimizer of their position as an overarching colonial state. Playing on these contradictions, protesters were able to deploy the language of “custom,” and the claims to natural “rights” that this language carried, to effectively force the state toward policies that would protect its legitimizing claims.

If questions of “environmental values and governance” in their contemporary usages only occasionally entered such debates, the story of the Indus basin should not let us forget that the relationship between structures of policy and protest—defined by contradictory appeals to nature as a touchstone for legitimacy—were mobilized by protesters and the state alike in a long, intertwined history.

 

David Gilmartin is Distinguished Professor of History at North Carolina State University, and author of the forthcoming Blood and Water (June 2015, UC Press).


Afectados in Central America

By Susanna Rankin Bohme

This guest post is published in advance of the American Society for Environmental History conference in Washington, DC. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference them, Turning Protest into Policy. Come back for new posts every weekday until March 19th.

Susanna Rankin Bohme
Susanna Rankin Bohme

The notion of transforming protest into policy commonly conjures up scenarios of activism and political change at the local or national level. However, when considering responses to the uneven health and environmental impacts of transnational corporations, the location and object of protests and policy can be geographically and politically complex. This is certainly true in the transnational history of the pesticide chemical DBCP I tell in Toxic Injustice.

Since 1977, tens of thousands of former banana workers in Central America have linked their DBCP exposure to sterility, cancer, and other maladies. Known as afectados for the illnesses they suffer, they also share what they have called their “other painful experience”: dismissal of lawsuit after lawsuit brought in the United States against the corporations that produced and used DBCP (Shell, Dow, Dole, Chiquita, and others).

In response to illness and legal exclusion, since 1997 afectados in Costa Rica and Nicaragua developed protest movements that articulated a strong critique of US-based transnational corporations but took national governments as primary targets. Their policy goals and effects differed. Costa Rican afectados focused on obtaining compensation directly from the government they held partially responsible for their injuries. In Nicaragua, afectados instead passed legislation at the national level that facilitated lawsuits against fruit and chemical corporations, a move that converted the state from target to ally in a transnational struggle, as courts began returning multi-million dollar judgments against defendants.

What were the impacts of policies afectados achieved? In Costa Rica, activists won compensation for over 14,000 people, but amounts were low and corporations escaped unscathed. In Nicaragua, a powerful victory was followed by fierce opposition from transnational corporations, which have refused to heed Nicaraguan verdicts. In both cases, afectados’ partial successes as well as their failures can help point the way forward for other movements working to transform protest into policy to hold corporations accountable.

 

Susanna Rankin Bohme is Lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard University.

 


Reflections on Malcolm X 50 Years After His Death

This Saturday, February 21 marks the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination. His untimely death came shortly after his public split with the Nation of Islam, when he was developing an international human rights, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist message that was meant to appeal to the oppressed around the world. The debate at the Oxford Union took place only three months before his death, and was one of the last opportunities for him to share this message, “…I, for one, will join in with anyone—don’t care what color you are—as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.”

Stephen Tuck, author of The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union, will be speaking at The Malcolm X 50th Anniversary Memorial at the Shabazz Center in Harlem this Saturday, February 21. If you can’t attend in person, visit www.ebony.com/MalcolmX50thMemorial-221 at 2pm on Saturday to view a live stream of the event.
 

Excerpt from the Prologue of The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union:

On the evening of December 3, 1964, a most unlikely figure was invited to speak at the University of Oxford Union’s end-of-term “Queen and Country” debate: Mr. Malcolm X. The Oxford Union was the most prestigious student debating organization in the world, regularly welcoming heads of state and stars of screen. It was also, by tradition, the student arm of the British establishment—the training ground for the politically ambitious offspring of Britain’s “better classes.” Malcolm X, by contrast, had a reputation for revolution and danger. As the Sun, a widely read British tabloid, explained to readers in a large-font caption under a photograph of the American visitor: “He wants a separate Negro state in which coloured people could live undisturbed. And many Americans believe he would use violence to get it.” Certainly the FBI did. Its file on Malcolm X, opened in 1953, expanded by the week as he toured Africa during the second half of 1964, giving a series of uncompromising speeches and meeting with heads of state to seek their support in calling for the United Nations to intervene in U.S. race relations.

The peculiarity of his presence in Oxford was not lost on Malcolm X. “I remember clearly that the minute I stepped off the train, I felt I’d suddenly backpedaled into Mayflower-time,” he told a friend later. Fresh from visiting newly independent nations in Africa, Malcolm X sensed that in Oxford “age was just seeping out of the pores of every stone. The students were wearing caps and gowns as if they graduated the first day they arrived . . . and they were riding bicycles that should’ve been dumped long ago.” Initially, he wondered whether he had made a mistake accepting the invitation.

At times, Malcolm X’s visit proved to be comically awkward. He was met at the rail station by, among others, the (white) Union secretary, Henry Brownrigg, who fell somewhat silent in the presence of an African American revolutionary. Brownrigg accompanied Malcolm X, self-consciously, to Oxford’s preeminent hotel, the Randolph, a Victorian Gothic building with a quaint, old-fashioned ambience. Malcolm X, however, seemed to interpret the choice of a hotel somewhat in need of internal refurbishment as a racist insult, a view reinforced by the receptionist’s insistence that he sign his surname in full, rather than just with an “X,” in the hotel guest book. The dress code at the silver-service dinner, held in the Union’s wooden paneled dining room before the debate, did not suit him either. By tradition, speakers wore black bowties, which was also the uniform of the Nation of Islam, the religious movement that he had served for more than a decade. But having left the Nation acrimoniously earlier in the year (and now living under a death threat as a result), Malcolm X wore a straight tie instead, the only speaker or committee member to do so. Wearing a straight tie was a mark of inferior rank at the dinner: the only other person who wore a straight tie was the steward, who served the food and wine.

Ironically, the motion Malcolm X was called on to support in the debate was embodied in a quotation from Senator Barry Goldwater, of all people, the outspoken conservative Republican nominee in the previous month’s presidential election, who had opposed the recent passage of the American Civil Rights Act. During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention that summer, Goldwater had defended the John Birch Society, saying, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and . . . moderation in the pursuit of vice is no virtue.” Even before he rose to speak in support of that argument, Malcolm X’s debating opponents mocked the notion of a black radical defending “the Goldwater standard.” Malcolm X countered that he preferred Goldwater to the winner of that presidential election, Lyndon Johnson, since at least Goldwater was open about his racism.

Malcolm X’s friend the black arts poet and filmmaker Lebert Bethune, who was in London in late 1964, could not resist the chance “to see the sacrosanct image of Oxford shattered by the fist of revolutionary logic. So I took a train to Oxford just to be there for the blow.”That blow was aimed most directly at Humphrey Berkeley, a conservative MP and Malcolm X’s main debating opponent. Berkeley charged Malcolm X with being every bit as racist as apologists for South African apartheid, and joked about his “pseudonym” surname, X.

Perhaps it was the intimacy of the debate, with speakers facing each other at a distance of barely two meters in a chamber modeled on the House of Commons, that caused Malcolm X to come as close as he could remember to losing his temper. He gathered his thoughts, however, regained his composure, then returned Berkeley’s insult. “The speaker that preceded me is one of the best excuses that I know to prove our point,” he said, andthen threw Berkeley’s argument back at him: “He is right. X is not my real name.” His real name, in fact, had been taken by Berkeley’s forefathers, who raped and pillaged their way through Africa. “I just put X up there to keep from wearing his name.” The students laughed when Malcolm X suggested that Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “I think it was, who said, ‘to be or not to be,’” was “in doubt about something.” They listened attentively to his assault on the American media, loudly applauded his condemnation of racism, and some booed when he justified the recent murder of white missionaries by freedom fighters in the Congo as an act of war. Malcolm X lost the debate, but he won plenty of admirers. Bethune judged it “one of the most stirring speeches I have ever heard delivered by Malcolm X.”

On the face of it, the fact that Malcolm X chose to spend an evening at a fusty old English university seems something of a puzzle.But given the lengths to which Malcolm went in order to make the trip, it was clearly important to him: he accepted the invitation even though he was too busy in late 1964 even to respond to similar invitations from leading American universities; he agreed to speak for no fee even though his finances were in a parlous state; and he accommodated Oxford’s fixed schedule even though the debate could hardly have come at a more inconvenient time. Having been abroad during the spring and then again through the second half of 1964, he was eager to be home. “I miss you and the children very much,” he wrote to his wife, Betty, in August from Africa, “but it looks like another month at least may pass before I see you.” In fact, it would be another three. He returned home to New York on November 24. By that time, Betty was heavily pregnant,his mother was seriously ill, and the Nation of Islam was seeking to evict his family from their home. Meanwhile, his new organizations, Muslim Mosque Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, were in a state of organizational shambles owing to his absence. Yet he still felt, as he put it to one of his closest colleagues, Charles 37X Kenyatta, that “the long-run gains [of the trip to England] outweigh the risks.” Within a week of his homecoming from Africa, he was back on a plane across the Atlantic to London.

Why coming to Oxford was so important to Malcolm X, why Oxford students chose to invite him, and what effect the visit had on the man and the institution were the starting questions for this book. Far from being a chance or unlikely combination, it turns out there was an unerring logic about the coming together of an outspoken black revolutionary and this historic center of Western learning. By late 1964, black students at Oxford needed Malcolm X to come, and he felt it was urgent to go. Why that was so reveals much about both Malcolm X’s life and thought and the university’s engagement with race and rights. And more broadly, it has much to tell about Britain at the end of its empire, America during the civil rights era, and the global currents of the black freedom struggle.

From his childhood, Malcolm X had been on the move, eager to learn and in search of a better life—first for himself, then for others. In 1964, his journey took him abroad, to the Middle East, then Africa, and finally Europe. His international travels were a response to changes in his outlook, but they also caused his outlook to change in turn. Thus the debate at Oxford marked the latest stage in Malcolm’s transformation from a small-time hustler to the world’s most famous black nationalist, from a dogmatic black supremacist to a proponent of human rights, and from an American-based controversialist to a seasoned traveler with a global vision (who remained an irascible critic of America). Ending up at Oxford happened somewhat by chance. But only somewhat. The details of his life—his enjoyment of travel, his fascination with (or rather contempt for) the British Empire, his love of debate, his ease among white students, his desire to connect with the coming generation of postcolonial leaders, his frustration at being dismissed by the media as too extreme, his readiness for a confrontation, and his penchant for associating with famous people and places, even his love of Shakespeare—had prepared him for a debate on extremism and moderation at the Oxford Union.

As for the students of Oxford, they had grappled with the issue of race ever since the Victorian era, first in support of the empire, then to challenge it. In 1964, the issue had come to a head. Malcolm X arrived to speak at the very moment when some two thousand students were demanding an end to the exclusion of black students from university housing, when Britain was beset by the racial politics of immigration, and when global freedom struggles were headline news in Britain. That the Oxford Union issued an invitation to Malcolm X was by no means inevitable. But it made perfect sense. The Union was a high-profile forum for debate with a tradition of outspoken colonial student leaders, heated engagement with gender, race, and colonial issues, and a rising influence of left-leaning students. And in late 1964, a radical Jamaican student—whose hero was Malcolm X—had been elected as president of the Union.

Malcolm X’s visit to the Union, in short, was a story with much longer roots, and more far-reaching implications, than the content of the speech alone might suggest. It was a story that interwove the global, national, local, and university politics of race. It was a story that involved a wide cast of characters from four continents. And it was a story that touched on many of the major themes of the era, of empire and nationalism, Black Powerand citizenship, immigration and segregation, student rights and human rights, Commonwealth and the Cold War, Islam and Christianity, sexism and class conflict, media and the cult of celebrity, the so-called Black Atlantic and the British-American special relationship, and even cricket. It was precisely because of the broader context of Malcolm X’s visit that the content of the speech is so important. It stands as the clearest and most eloquent articulation of his critique of racism and his vision for a remedy after a year of travel and shortly before the end of his life.

The night of the speech was not the end of Malcolm X’s connection with Britain. Oxford was the first stop for Malcolm X in a short tour of four English cities, followed by a return trip in February 1965, a week before he died. His visit was but one of many by high-profile U.S. civil rights activists to Britain during this period. Just three days after the Oxford debate, for example, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached to an overflowing congregation at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Civil rights travelers, including Malcolm X, sought to use these visits, and the international dimensions of the struggle for equality, for their own purposes. But none of those involved, not even Malcolm X, had complete control over how the story turned out or how the visit changed their outlook or circumstances. Thus the full story of the Union debate also reveals the transformative, and often unexpected, impact of transatlantic connections on issues of race and equality—in this case, an impact not just on the course of British activism, but even on such a renowned global figure as Malcolm X.

 

Stephen Tuck is Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford and Director of the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. He is the author of several books including We Ain’t What We Ought to Be: The Black Freedom Struggle from Emancipation to Obama and coauthor of Historians across Borders: Writing American History in a Global Age (UC Press).


Start 2015 with 1995

1995Remember life before the web?

It’s now hard to imagine (or recollect, depending on your age) that a generation ago, in 1995, Sergey and Larry were just meeting at Stanford. (“Their mutual first reaction was that the other was pretty obnoxious.”)

Craigslist, Match.com, and Salon.com all began in 1995. Yahoo was incorporated in 1995. eBay was launched (as AuctionWeb) in 1995. Netscape IPO-ed spectacularly, and Jeff Bezos launched Amazon. In fact, during the course of 1995 the Internet and the World Wide Web—a word of the year according to the American Dialect Society—went from “near-invisibility to near-ubiquity” in the words of legendary Internet pioneer Vinton G. Cerf.

Other events that occurred in 1995?

The Oklahoma bombing, the O. J. Simpson trial, the Dayton Peace Accords, and the start of the Clinton–Lewinsky relationship—all of which had lasting effects and consequences for American culture. It is “a year that matters still,” according to W. Joseph Campbell, and 1995: The Year the Future Began shows why.

The author of five other nonfiction books (including Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism), Campbell is persuasive as to why 1995 represents a “clear starting point for contemporary life,” and elaborates his argument via a chapter on each event:

They were profound in their respective ways, and, taken together, they define a watershed year at the cusp of the millennium. Nineteen ninety-five in many ways effectively marked the close of one century, and the start of another.

At his blog devoted to the book and the year 1995, Campbell answers the question “why write a book about 1995?”

Campbell’s prose reflects his 20-year background in journalism; though meticulously researched, the book reads like a thriller. Given that Campbell is social-media savvy as well as a lively writer—as befits both his subject matter and his current ‘beat’ as a Professor in the School of Communication at American University—let’s let him do the talking: you can listen to his recent Newseum interview here.

Newseum

Quick as he is to demur when queried about, say, Marc Andreesen’s re-tweeting him—“we’re not acquaintances or anything … but it makes a difference when he re-tweets, for sure”—Campbell comes prepared for most social media situations (as befits his coverage of the massively “up-and-to-the-right” rise of American Internet adoption).

The best way to experience 1995 is just to start reading. Remember the roots of the Internet as you relive 1995. Once you’re hooked, explore Campbell’s other books, blogs, and feeds.

You’ll be in august company: not long ago, Intel CEO Brian M. Krzanich—at the Consumer Electronics Show keynote in Las Vegas, no less—declared that “1995 was a watershed moment in consumer technology.” You can’t get much better confirmation than that!

(Yes, this hyper hyper-linking is an homage to what’s changed in just two decades … or, in ‘Internet time,’ approximately 1,000 years. And if you believe you’re as prescient as Vinton Cerf, please share your predictions for five events that 2035 will look back upon as watershed exemplars of the ‘mid-teens’ of the twenty-first century.)

Getting it Wrong

Newsrooms have been meeting tech for a long, long time and typically have not dealt very well with it. One of the chapters in Getting It Wrong discusses the famous (or infamous) “War of the Worlds” radio dramatization of 1938, and how newspapers really took the occasion to beat up on radio as an immature and irresponsible medium. By doing so they helped perpetuate what was an exaggeration of the notion of nationwide panic and mass hysteria caused by that program. It did not happen. There may have been some frightened people that night, but nowhere near on a national scale, nowhere near mass panic or broad-based hysteria.

It’s a recurring theme in American journalism that established media treat upstart new media with suspicion and a fair amount of skepticism, if not overt hostility, and they often do so to their detriment. We see that same trend in 1995 with the rise of the Internet into mainstream consciousness. One of the top editors at the time said, “Well, thankfully, people getting their news from the Internet is a very small audience, and likely will remain as such for a long time.”

Campbell’s provocative Getting It Wrong won in 2010 the Society of Professional Journalists’ national award for “Research about Journalism.” He maintains the MediaMythAlert blog.

 


Celebrating Martin Luther King Day

To celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 19, Tenisha Hart Armstrong, Volume VII editor of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., curated a special selection of relevant photographs and a video that draw upon the rich resources of The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute.

  • In his office at Ebenezer Baptist Church, King meets with Gurdon Brewster, an intern at the church during the summer of 1961. Courtesy of Gurdon Brewster.

 

The publication in October 2014 of Volume VII: To Save the Soul of America, January 1961–August 1962, edited by Clayborne Carson and Tenisha Hart Armstrong of Stanford, marked the half-way point of this long-term research and publication venture of 14 volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. which is conducted in association with the King Estate, Stanford University, and the University of California Press.

Explore the other volumes in the series:

The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. is part of UC Press’s strong list in African American history. Other titles that may be of interest include Black against Empire (which won the 2014 American Book Association award), The Black Revolution on Campus (winner of the Wesley-Logan Prize in African Diaspora History from the American Historical Association), The Next American Revolution (advice for the 21st century from civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs, who turns 100 this year), and Climbin’ Jacob’s Ladder: The Black Freedom Movement Writings of Jack O’Dell.

Please explore our African American History list and our Race and Class list.