Chapter Excerpts

[Chapter 01] Staking Our Claim: The Law in Early California

In the fall of 1849, forty-eight delegates from throughout California met for a consitutional convention in Monterey. They debated and deliberated about slavery, women's rights, and other civil liberties issues and produced the state's first constitution--a bilingual document in Spanish and English.

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[Chapter 02] In a Strange Land: The Rights of Immigrants

Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco. But in 1895 when he tried to return home from a visit to China, a customs official refused to recognize the young American's U.S. citizenship and barred him from reentering California.

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[Chapter 03] An Injury to All: The Rights of Workers

Labor leaders Tom Mooney and Warren Billings spent years in prison for the bombing of a San Francisco parade in 1916, despite mounting evidence that they were framed by the district attorney for the crime.

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[Chapter 04] Under Color of Law: The Fight for Racial Equality

African Americans were regularly segregated from San Francisco streetcars in the late 19th century. But two African American women challenged such discrimination, nearly a century before Rosa Parks's similar action spurred the civil rights movement.

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[Chapter 05] Holding Up Half the Sky: The Rights of Women

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, California women lobbied and went out on strikes for their right to work in professions and their right to equal pay.

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[Chapter 06] The Right Not to Remain Silent: Dissent

In 1923, Los Angeles police arrested acclaimed author Upton Sinclair in San Pedro because he started to read the U.S. Constitution to a group of striking maritime workers.

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[Chapter 07] Mightier Than the Sword: The Right to Free Expression

Soon after John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939, farmers and politicians in Kern County, the region depicted in the classic novel, tried to ban the book from local libraries.

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[Chapter 08] Keeping the Faith: The Right to Religious Freedom

Three Navajos in the desert community of Needles challenged a state drug law in 1962 as a violation of their religious freedom.

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[Chapter 09] That Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Rights of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals and Transgender People

More than four years before the Stonewall riot in New York, a pivitol event for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender freedom took place not in New York but two blocks from San Francisco's city hall.

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[Chapter 10] Breaking Down Barriers: The Rights of People with Disabilities

In 1962 Ed Roberts was the first student with significant disabilities to attend the University of California, Berkeley. Other students with disabilities soon followed. Many of them developed programs that became national models and sparked a civil rights movement for people with disabilities.

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[Chapter 11] The Wrong Side of the Law: Criminal Justice

After being arrested multiple times by San Diego police for not producing identification on demand, Edward Lawson represented himself in a lawsuit to strike down the wide-ranging and vague law that permitted the arrests. His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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[Chapter 12] Behind Barbed Wire: World War II Removal and Incarceration

During World War II, the federal government took the unprecedented action of incarcerating Japanese Americans who were living on the west coast. Two of the camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated--Manzanar and Tule Lake--were in desolate areas of California.

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