How a Heroine Became a ‘Demon’ in Victorian San Francisco

KQED - Mary Ellen Pleasant, a black woman, came to San Francisco in the mid-1800s and defied white society’s constraints and prejudices to not only amass great wealth, but to also use her power to immeasurably advance the cause of civil rights in the city.


Los Angeles' 1850s Slave Market Is Now the Site of a Federal Courthouse

KQED - Auctioning off human beings is a practice many would think was confined to the pre-Civil War American South. Here in California, slavery was purportedly banned during the 1849 Constitutional Convention. But even though it was situated in a supposedly “free” state, Los Angeles held its own human auctions during the mid-19th century. And the product for sale was Native Americans.


ACLU of Northern California, KQED, the California Historical Society and Equal Justice Society Announce Gold Chains: The Hidden History of Slavery in California

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NC) today launched “Gold Chains: The Hidden History of Slavery in California,” a public education campaign that exposes chapters of California’s history that may come as a surprise, if not an outright shock to many people. Little known is the fact that while California entered the Union as a “free” state under the Compromise of 1850, slavery was rampant.


The mission of Gold Chains is to uncover the hidden history of slavery in California by lifting up the voices of courageous African American and Native American individuals who challenged their brutal treatment and demanded their civil rights, inspiring us with their ingenuity, resilience, and tenacity. We aim to expose the role of the courts, laws, and the tacit acceptance of white supremacy in sanctioning race-based violence and discrimination that continues into the present day. Through an unflinching examination of our collective past, we invite California to become truly aware and authentically enlightened.