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.
California Fugitive Slave Law
Three formerly enslaved Black men were living their California Gold Rush dream, building a lucrative mining supply business in just a few months. But one cool spring night in 1852, an armed posse of white men burst into their cabin and arrested them, claiming 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.
Stacey L. Smith, an associate professor of history at Oregon State University, and author of Freedom’s Frontier: California and the Struggle over Unfree Labor, Emancipation and Reconstruction. Smith is acting as a historical consultant to the California Department of Justice as it supports the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans.
Taylor Bythewood-Porter, an assistant curator at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. Bythewood-Porter co-curated California Bound, Slavery on the New Frontier, 1848-1865.
Candice Francis, communications director at the ACLU of Northern California.
Explore the entire Gold Chains: Hidden History of Slavery in California Project
Produced by the ACLU of Northern California.
Episode created, written and hosted by Tammerlin Drummond
Technical production and music by Dax Brooks, co-written by Alex Doty.
Thanks to Marshal Arnwine, Candice Francis, Gigi Harney, Brady Hirsch, Carmen King, Abdi Soltani, Eliza Wee and Stephen Wilson. And to our partners on the public education project, Gold Chains: The Hidden History of Slavery in California: KQED the California Historical Society, the Equal Justice Society and Laura Atkins.
Black Testimony Matters
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. Episode Website
Introducing Gold Chains
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, which was deliberately kept out of official histories of California. And we connect that dark past to today's calls for justice. Voices featured in this trailer include Tammerlin Drummond, Stacey L. Smith, Taylor Bythewood-Porter, Candice Francis and Marshal Arnwine.
Well researched, well told
Very important history, congrats to the ACLU NorCal comms team for pushing to publish this and unveil the hidden history of slavery in California. A so-called 'free state'.
Incredibly informative and engaging
I’ve lived in California my whole life and I’ve never heard this history. I really appreciate the research and information shared in this podcast. Excellent production!