California History Photos – III : Struggle & Identity


Continuing from California History Photos – I : Origins

Taken from Museum of California, Oakland.

Previous parts

California History Photos – I : Origins

California History Photos – II : Wild West

Previously, the Great Fire in San Francisco ended the era of Gold-Mining in 1900. However, the Golden State of California was entering a new modern era – with a different industry that drew people from all over the world.


As Thomas Edison patented the technology of Motion Pictures on the East Coast and demanded royalties and other legal benefits, movie-makers moved west to Hollywood Hills, to bring to fruition their artistic vision, and thus, Hollywood was born.

The birth of Hollywood in Los Angeles area led to advertisements of new housing developments of California bungalows, leading to mass movement of wealthy, creative and ambitious people to the sunnier and cheaper West Coast.

Who is a Californian? Identity & Belonging

Black-Rights activists demanding equal housing
Segregationists wanting separate housing
Mass round-up and forced deportation of Mexican families
Blockading heartland Americans (called “Okies” as a slur). Many impoverished farmers from Oklahoma, devastated by the Dust-Bowl famine tried to move to California. However, LAPD blocked them at state-borders.
Extreme poverty during famine. Homeless people living inside concrete pipes.

(Above) Many LGBT folks found early acceptance in California. Drag Queens even rose to prominent political positions in San Francisco.

War Abroad & at Home

While Americans fought the Nazis in Europe, the homeland also was undergoing a parallel war of identity and belonging. Minorities called the government hypocrites. While they were fighting white supremacy in foreign lands, there was racial conflict in domestic front.

“This machine kills Fascists” – Woody Guthrie
Japanese-Americans, feared for being spies of Imperial Japan, were rounded-up and put in Internment Camps. This is a very dark period in American history, where citizens and residents were kidnapped and imprisoned on the basis of their ancestry. Ironically, this was analogous to what the US was fighting against in Europe.
The War is Over! Bienvenidos a casa – Welcome home.

Silicon Valley – Era of Computers

Stanford and Berkeley pioneers new research. Semiconductor Era begins. HP created in a garage.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs give the world the iPhone. Digital era beings. Social media changes the world.

The Ongoing Struggle Today

US-Mexico Border in California – between San Diego (USA) and Tijuana (Mexico)
Anti-Immigration posters
‘No wall between Amigos’ – Many pro-immigration people help out migrants by providing water-tanks in the desert. This is currently illegal, and carries heavy penalty.
Cross-Border faith-services are currently legal, under special circumstances, overlooked by US armed forces. Separated families gather on opposite sides of the border and pray together.


The story of California, from my understanding, is a story of pioneers. On this edge of the earth, all people from First People (like Ohlones) to newcomers today are coming seeking new horizons. The past and present, I found, are not two different things, but parts of the same story – a complex human story in search of identity and belonging.

I currently live in California and this place has been one of my homes on this planet. I loved how the museum, saw current people and future Californians as a part of this continuous story.

Note – the museum also has equally large and detailed sections dedicated to Natural History of California as well as Art Gallery of Californian artists.

It is a must-see.

See Also

19 Quirky Museums of San Fransisco Bay Area (Part – 1)

10 Tranquil places in San Francisco Bay Area for Introverts

Vienna & Bratislava – Solo Travel for Introverts


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