1951 - 1990

Race: 1959

State legislature passes the Civil Rights Act (also known as the Unruh Act for its author Assembly Member Jesse Unruh) outlawing discrimination in business establishments on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.  The legislature also passes the Hawkins Act (named for African American legislator Augustus Hawkins) banning racial discrimination in publicly-assisted housing.

Dissent: 1959

San Franciscans for Academic Freedom and Education (SAFE) forms to support teachers subpoenaed by HUAC. Opposition to HUAC grows in the Bay Area, and for the first time HUAC cancels a hearing.

Dissent: 1960

HUAC ProtestHUAC ProtestHUAC conducts hearings in San Francisco’s City Hall, drawing hundreds of protestors, mainly college students. Without warning, police turn fire hoses on the protestors and push them down the staircase in the building’s rotunda. The following day, 5,000 people gather in front of City Hall to protest against HUAC. 

Frank Wilkinson and Dick Criley found theNational Committee to Abolish HUAC.

Criminal Justice: 1960

Caryl Chessman is executed for robbery, kidnapping, and rape.

LGBT Rights: 1960

President Eisenhower issues an executive order which allows private sector employers working on government defense contracts to ban employment of homosexuals.

Daughters of Bilitis convene in San Francisco the first national public gathering of lesbians in the United States.

A state Alcoholic Beverage Control inspector and a San Francisco police officer are caught demanding monthly payoffs from owners of bars catering to lesbians and gay men, in what the press dubs the "Gayola" scandal.

Censorship: 1961

U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy determines that customs and postal officials cannot block distribution of Henry Miller’s novels.

Religion: 1961

California Supreme Court rules against a Black Muslim prisoner who was denied access to the Q’uran and meetings with other Muslims, unlike prisoners of other faiths.

Malcolm X, a Black Muslim, is denied permission to speak on the U.C. Berkeley campus because administrators deem him a religious speaker; two years later, after protests by faculty and students, he is finally allowed to speak. 

See a 1963 interview with Malcolm X conducted at UC Berkeley.

Women: 1961

President John F. Kennedy establishes the Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, to examine, among other things, discrimination against women in the workplace.

First bill to liberalize California's abortion law is introduced, but fails to pass.

LGBT Rights: 1962

Virginia Prince forms Phi Pi Epsilon, a group for transvestites.

Owners of San Francisco bars catering to gay men form the Tavern Guild to protect themselves and their patrons from police harassment.

Censorship: 1962

Los Angeles booksellers are charged with obscenity under a state law for selling Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to an undercover police cadet.

 

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