Time Line of Race and Resistance
1) 1791 in Santa Cruz
Mission Santa Cruz is Founded by Franciscan priest Fermiin Francisco de Lauson, who is known for his cruelty to the Native population. Land is appropriated from indigenous communities as they are forced to convert to Catholicism and work in miserable conditions around the mission.
2) 1793 Santa Cruz
A tribal leader named Charquin, head of a Quirosote community near Año Nuevo on the North Coast that had long resisted the intrusion of the missions in San Francisco, Santa Clara and, finally, Santa Cruz, led an assault on the local mission compound.
3) 1812 in Santa Cruz
Members of regional Ohlone tribes confined at Mission Santa Cruz strangled Father Andres Quintana, a mission priest known for his use of metal-tipped whips and thumb screws on native peoples. Movement by the native population within the town is strictly limited.
4) 1850 Santa Cruz
Any ethnic group that did not fit into the emerging Protestant and Northern European power structure in Santa Cruz was systematically marginalized and designated as “other.” This included not only California Indians, but Mexicans, Californios, African Americans, Chinese, Southern Europeans (most notably Italians) and Irish Catholics. Almost from the moment that Santa Cruz County was established in 1850, Californios–natives of Spanish, Mexican, Indian or mixed heritage–were targeted. Many Californios lost their land titles through corrupt attorneys and legal proceedings.
5) 1867 in Watsonville
A separate school for African-Americans is established in Watsonville and simply called the Negro School.
6) 1870 in Watsonville
The formation of the Pajaro Property Protective Society in 1870 marked the beginning of a yearlong frenzy of vigilante activity against the non-white populations.
7) 1877 in Santa Cruz
On May 3, 1877, the lynching of a Mexican and Native American by the name of Francisco Arias and Jose Chamales, took place under the Water Street Bridge. The victims were accused of murder after a forced confession. After the lynching, large crowds gathered on the banks of the San Lorenzo River to gape at the hanging corpses. Hours passed before the bodies were finally cut down. The remaining spectators, including children, called out bids for pieces of the death ropes, which had been sliced into foot-long sections for souvenirs.
9) 1878 in Watsonville
The Negro School is closed yet segregation continues.
10) 1879 in Watsonville
A statewide referendum bans continued Chinese immigration. The referendum is enforced vehemently in the Monterey Bay region.
11) 1881 Santa Cruz
Duncan McPherson, longtime publisher and editor of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, a member of an elite group of pioneers who oversaw the growth of Santa Cruz referred to the Chinese as “half-human, half-devil, rat-eating, rag-wearing, law-ignoring, Christian civilization-hating, opium-smoking, labor-degrading, entrail-sucking Celestials.”
12) 1888 in Watsonville
Residents of Watsonville decide to move the Chinese population across the river to Pajaro, where the Chinese community is known as Brooklyn. In 1924 a fire destroys most of Brooklyn, and by 1940 the many Chinese abandon Watsonville.
13) 1907 in the Pajaro Valley
Japanese Association is founded. The Society’s primary purpose was as a legal aid organization, assisting the Issei with not only military matters, but also helping in matters of immigration.
14) 1908 in the Pajaro Valley
The US government restricts immigration by Japanese laborers.
15) 1915 in Santa Cruz
“The Birth of a Nation,” a racist movie produced and directed by D. W. Griffith was shown at local theaters to sell out houses. The NAACP attempted unsuccessfully to seek a ban on the movie because of its extremely negative portrayal of African Americans and its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. The local press called it “the greatest movie ever made.” This movie helped bring about a revival of the Ku Klux Klan.
16) 1924 in the Pajaro Velley
Japanese are prohibited from immigrating to the US, opening the door for Filipinos to replace them as farm workers in the Pajaro Valley.
17) 1916-1941 in Santa Cruz
During this 25-year period, the attitude of Whites toward the African American community became extremely hostile. Bigotry became a policy in many quarters as blacks were banned or discriminated against at local hotels, roadhouses and inns. Negro vacationers with their tourist dollars were unwelcome visitors at many recreational spots in the county. Finding housing and jobs became an impossible task; so many Negro families left the area in anger and discouragement. Even churches, the supposed moral pillars of the community, now refused to accept Black parishioners.
18) 1924 in Santa Cruz
A Ku Klux Klan Klavern was founded in Santa Cruz and for a time was quite visible including a daylight march in the Miss California parade.
19) 1928 in Watsonville
A chapter of the Ku Klux Klan is formed in Watsonville and becomes quite visible.
20) 1930 in Watsonville
Hundreds of white men armed with pistols and clubs roamed the streets of Watsonville for five days in January 1930, beating Filipino field workers and finally, in a shooting on San Juan Road, killing 22-year-old Fermin Tobera.
21) 1934 in Santa Cruz
Irvin Harris, a native of Santa Cruz and a graduate of local schools, was run out of town by the Sheriff and District Attorney after he was found at a party in the company of a white female.
22) 1934 in Central Coast
Filipinos continued to work in California fields, playing crucial roles in the development of the agriculture labor movement for decades. In 1965, a Filipino labor union, led by Larry Itliong, launched a strike against grape growers in Delano. Soon, the Filipinos joined forces with a fledgling group of mostly Mexican laborers led by a young organizer named Cesar Chavez to form the United Farm Workers.
23) 1934 in Santa Cruz County and the nation.
Despite Filipinos having the same rights as US citizens, immigration from the Philippines is restricted and they are banned from becoming US citizens.
24) 1942 in Pajaro Valley
The Bracero Program is implanted, a series of laws and diplomatic agreements initiated between theUnited States and Mexico, to encourage Mexican farm workers to replace the Japanese, and Filipino workers who have been either arrested or deported because of the war.
25) 1951-1960 in Santa Cruz County
Throughout the decade, the Black population of the county grows as more families relocated to the area. In time a ghetto of sorts came into being in the area of West Santa Cruz commonly called “the circles.” The NAACP, under the leadership of Erva Bowen and Arvenia Bumpus flourished as an organization, both political and social, and gave some cohesion to the African American community.
26) 1954 Santa Cruz County and Nation
Effort began in California and Arizona in 1954 and coordinated 1075 Border Patrol agents, along with state and local police agencies. Tactics employed included going house to house in Mexican-American neighborhoods conducting citizenship checks during standard traffic stops.
27) 1960-1970 in Santa Cruz
This decade can best be described as a period of growing activism among a new generation of young Black adults. They joined with their elders to raise the political and social consciousness of the local African American population. The NAACP pushed for fair housing laws, and together with a new group called the Urban Improvement Organization, lobbied for low-income housing projects in Santa Cruz County. Their struggles were spearheaded by Erva Bowen and Sy Rockins, and met with varying degrees of success.
28) 1970 in Pajaro Valley
The UFW calls for a strike in the Pajaro Valley and Salinas Lettuce fields, resulting in a series of bloody conflicts with the police and sheriff departments.
29) 1970 in Santa Cruz
The N.A.A.C.P., in conjunction with the Black Cooperative Association, headed by Black Panther William Moore, begin a free breakfast program for Elementary School aged children as well as a food bank. Among the most dedicated volunteers in this program were Helen Weston Brown, Lillian McCoy and Esther Bradley Delgado.
30) 1978 in Santa Cruz
The local black community initiates a drive to honor Louden Nelson, an ex-slave who upon his death directed his entire estate to be used to further the education of local children. The Black community finally achieved complete success when, in 1979, a new community center, located at the old Laurel School, was named in Nelson’ s honor.
31) 1980 in Santa Cruz
The election of longtime NAACP activist Erva Bowen to the Board of Education. Bowen was the first Black person to hold an elective office in the history of Santa Cruz County.
32) 1970-1990 in Santa Cruz
These were decades of victory for the local Black community as low-income housing became a reality and many new industries located in the county, opening up job opportunities for minority workers.
33) 1985 in Watsonville
In Watsonville an 18-month Cannery strike begins led by Latina women. The Watsonville Police Department vigorously enforced a series of injunctions imposed by the courts, continually harasses strikers and their supporters, and, dressed as they were in assorted riot gear and military regalia, maintained the threat of violence throughout the strike. Nevertheless the Strikers win!
34) 1987 in Watsonville
Tony Campos is elected to the Watsonville City Counsel; he is the first Latino to be elected. Nevertheless, it is alleged that he was supported by the old white power structure to counter a lawsuit brought by Joaquin Avila claiming that there was a lack of local elected political Latino representation.
35) 1989 in Watsonville
Oscar Rios, an immigrant from El Salvador, wins a city counsel seat in Watsonville’s first district election.
36) 1991 in Watsonville
Oscar Rios becomes the first Latino mayor in Watsonville’s history.
37) 1994 in Santa Cruz County
Students from all districts in Santa Cruz County walkout of school to demand a repeal of Proposition 187.
38) 1994 in Watsonville
The Brown Berets are formed to address issues of youth violence, police harassment, and over-crowded schools.
39) 1995 Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz Juvenile Hall was averaging a total population of 61; with Latinos making up approximately 64 percent of these cases. However, Latinos account for only 33 percent of the children aged 10 to 17 in Santa Cruz County.
40) 1995 Santa Cruz County
It took community activist and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) to reduce the number of youth confinement. After the implementation of certain programs the rate of Latinos incarcerated in Juvenile hall dramatically decreased.
41) 1996 in Watsonville/Aptos
Watsonville students are bussed to Aptos High School to alleviate the overcrowding at Watsonville High School. White Aptos High School parents attempt to secede form the district claiming that the quality of their children’s education has decreased due to the incoming Latino students.
42) 1996 Aptos
MEChA is formed at Aptos High School to deal with discrimination and racism aimed at Latino students. Omar Dieges is elected the first Latino Student Body President.
43) 1997 Watsonville
The UFW organizes a march through Watsonville to launch it national strawberry campaign.
44) 1997 Watsonville
At a UFW march in Watsonville hired goons meet organizers in the fields with violence.
45) 2005 Watsonville
Watsonville, Calif. – The Pajaro Valley Unified School District voted on May 25, 2005 to name a new middle school after civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar Chavez. The move comes three years after school district officials in Watsonville rejected a similar proposal to name a high school for Chavez, despite overwhelming pressure from the community.
46) 2005 Boulder Creek
October and November 2005 – In October, a group of Latino workers were attacked in the night along Highway 9, and in November, a Man punched a car in Boulder Creek because its owner had dark skin, then he used racial slur and threatened to kill him.
47) 2005 Boulder Creek
Several racially motivated crimes occurred in a short time period in Boulder Creek, inspiring a candlelight vigil against racism.
(See: Boulder Creek man gets 195 days in jail, by Cathy Smith, Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 19, 2006, and Boulder Creek lights the way with anti-racism vigil, by Cathy Smith and Jondi Gumz,Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 21, 2005, and Sheriff steps up patrols following racial incidents, by Terri Morgan, Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 18, 2005, and Racism surfaces in mountain town, by Cathy Smith, Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 9, 2005.)
48) 2006 Santa Cruz County
Residents of Santa Cruz and Watsonville organize the largest march in Santa Cruz County history to demand immigrant rights.
49) 2009 Santa Cruz County
SCCCCOR is formed to address racial profiling and institutional racism.
50) 2009 Santa Cruz
Nazi flags hang over Pacific Avenue: Santa Cruz police say swastika is protected by First Amendment (by Genevieve Bookwalter, Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 1, 2009).
51) 2010 Live Oak
Three cars were spray-painted with swastikas and other racist graffiti over the weekend in what deputies are investigating as a hate crime, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
52) 2010 Santa Cruz
Grizzly Mothers Against Gangs and Take Back Santa Cruz is formed and organizes demonstrations against gangs in predominantly Latino neighborhoods. This effort is done without the consent or cooperation of Latino residents from those neighborhoods. Posters are distributed stating “warning: this is a gang infested area.”
53) 2010 Watsonville and Santa Cruz
Raids are conducted against Latino gang members with the use of FBI, ICE, and all local law enforcement jurisdictions.
54) 2011 Santa Cruz
Students at Soquel high school suspended for scrawling racist graffiti and joining together in a white supremacy gesture while the senior class picture.
55) 2011 Watsonville
California apologizes to Filipinos and Filipino Americans in an Assembly resolution authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas.