Artwork courtesy of the Tom Feelings Collection, LLC

A podcast about the Hidden History of Slavery in California, where we unearth the stories that were deliberately left out of the "free" state’s official history. And we connect that dark past to today’s calls for justice.


Most Recent Episode

A white man shoots and kills a prominent Black businessman in San Francisco in an unprovoked attack. There are plenty of witnesses. But there's a problem. They're all Black. And in California in 1861, that means their testimony doesn’t count. From 1850 until 1863, California had a law that banned African Americans from testifying against white people in criminal cases. In this episode, we bring you the little-known story of the testimony laws. We meet the Black activists who fought to repeal them. And we examine these racist laws’ enduring legacy in our legal system today.

Read More >


Three formerly enslaved Black men were living their California Gold Rush dream, building a lucrative mining supply business in just a couple of months. But one cool spring night in 1852, an armed posse of white men burst into their cabin and arrested them, claiming that they were fugitive slaves. In our pilot episode, we explore a little-known California law that unleashed racial terror on Black people and made a mockery of the state constitution's ban on slavery.

Read More >


Many of us were taught in school that California was a "free state" that never had slavery. It was a lie. Gold Chains unearths stories about the enslavement of Black people that were deliberately kept out of official histories of California.

Read More >


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.