Bay Area Civil Rights 1960s Images

 San Francisco Bay Area Civil Rights 1960s

Bay Area Civil Rights 1960s Images

“By the early 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement had reached California and the San Francisco Bay Area. Led by students from the University of California, Berkeley’s chapter of CORE (Congress On Racial Equality) and local black organizations in San Francisco and Oakland, the Ad Hoc Committee To End Racial Discrimination was formed. In the early 1960s, the Ad Hoc Committee carried out a series of protests throughout the Bay Area demanding an end to racism in hiring.”  Museum of California exhibit.

Demonstrations against racial discrimination in hiring and against police brutality occurred in the San Francisco area during the 1960s as well.  There were sit-in demonstrations with hundreds of arrests directed against local hotel chains that practiced racial discrimination in hiring. Restaurant chains such as Mel’s Drive-Ins were also targeted.  These demonstrations are documented in Harvey Richards’ still photos and motion pictures.  He made Freedom March (1963) and Decision in the Streets (1965) about the Bay Area civil rights protest events.  The photos that appear in this gallery were taken during the making of these films.  

Bay Area Civil Rights 1960s Fought Racism

Since there was no legal (only de facto) racial segregation in the Bay Area, the fight against racial discrimination focused on racist corporate hiring practices that prevented African Americans and other minorities from working outside menial occupations traditionally reserved for them. Groups like the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led demonstrations to protest segregation and discrimination nationally and in the Bay Area. This led to the formation of the Ad Hoc Committee to End Discrimination to fight de facto segregation in hiring.

The first target of the Ad Hoc Committee was Mel’s Drive Restaurants in Berkeley and San Francisco and then the famed Sheraton Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco. The owner of Mel’s Drive In was Harold Dobbs who was running for Mayor at the time. The notoriety of mass protests at his restaurants very likely cost Dobbs the election, won by John Shelley in 1964.  Sit-ins and picketing of posh downtown hotels led to mass arrests and eventually to an agreement to end discriminatory racial hiring practices at most big city hotels.  Harvey Richards filmed these demonstrations, including the mass arrests inside the lobby of the Sheraton Palace Hotel, which appear in Decision in the Streets.

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