Racial Segregation in San Francisco, 1906

On this day in 1906, the San Francisco Board of Education ordered Japanese students to move to racially segregated schools.

First-graders, some of Japanese ancestry, at t...

First graders, some of Japanese descent, pledging allegiance to the flag.

Editor’s note: This summer, I wrote an extended essay, or 4,000 word research dissertation, as part of the International Baccalaureate program. I chose to write about history (obviously) and chose the topic of the Supreme Court Case Korematsu v. United States which challenged the constitutionality of Japanese-American Internment during World War II. Not knowing the scope of a 4,000 word essay, I decided to start my research with anti-Orientalist sentiments that existed on the West Coast decades prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the consequent internment of Japanese Americans. I took thousands of words of notes before I had even reached Pearl Harbor. There was no way this information would fit into my essay. My supervisor told me that I could include this information in an addendum at the end of my essay to evade the word count. However, after further research, I realized this would probably only annoy my grader, so I decided to cut it out completely. But today I thought that my addendum should finally see the light of day, as it relates to today’s historical event. So, without further ado, here is my rejected off-topic addendum.

“The anti-Orientalism of California and the West Coast dates back to the time of the gold rush in 1849, when Chinese laborers competed with American laborers for jobs in mining and railroad construction. American resentment toward Chinese laborers fed off of a general white supremacist ideology that dominated America at the time.

The consequent feelings of anti-Orientalism proved to be a problem for Japanese people who began immigrating to America in the 1880s to fill the demand for agricultural workers created by the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Anti-Oriental sentiments were fueled by the increased economic competition for jobs that resulted from the influx of Japanese people.  In addition, many Japanese immigrants could successfully farm along certain areas of the West Coast while some Americans could not, thus further increasing tensions. In fact, some political groups, such as the Native Sons of the Golden West, worked to prevent Japanese immigrants from entering the country or voting once they became citizens.

In 1905, anti-Japanese sentiment reached a fever pitch in San Francisco when the newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, launched a campaign against Japanese people. A week after the Chronicle’s campaign started, both houses of the California legislature unanimously approved a resolution requesting Congress to limit the further immigration of Japanese.  In October 1906, the San Francisco School Board segregated classrooms so that the white ‘children should not be placed in any position where their youthful impressions may be affected by association with the Mongolian race.’

Furthermore, American legislators passed discriminatory laws against Japanese immigrants. For example, the Naturalization Act of 1790 stated that only free white people born in other countries could apply for US citizenship; in 1924, the Naturalization Act was changed so that Japanese-born immigrants could never become naturalized citizens.

It was in this tension-filled state that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.”

My addendum was originally supposed to be an introduction, which explains the cliffhanger at the end. SPOILER ALERT: Things only get worse from there.

Hopefully I’ll be able to write more about what I learned while researching my essay. Though unfair and frustrating, Japanese-American Internment is a fascinating subject.

Samuel Adams, 1722

On September 27, 1722, Samuel Adams was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He and his cousin, John Adams (perhaps you’ve heard of him- he was the second US president), were Patriots and politicians.

Portrait of Sam Adams painted by John Singleton Copley.

Adams, a Harvard College graduate, opposed British taxation and led efforts against the Stamp Act of 1765. He also played a key role in organizing the Boston Tea Party in response to the Tea Act of 1773.

Adams was a Massachusetts legislator from 1765 to 1774 and was then appointed to the Continental Congress. In 1776, he and John Adams signed the Declaration of Independence, severing ties between America and Great Britain. After the war, he served as Governor of Massachusetts in 1794.

The Declaration of Independence

Adams was the son of a merchant and brewer and even attempted brewery himself (unsuccessfully). I’m mentioning this, of course, because Adams has a well-known beer named after him. Fun fact: the picture on the the Samuel Adams logo is actually a depiction of Paul Revere, not Sam Adams. This is partly due to the fact that the beer was going to be named “Paul Revere Beer,” and partly because, let’s face it, Revere is more attractive than Adams.

Paul Revere pretending to be Sam Adams pretending to be a successful brewer.

The Samuel Adams Statue at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.

-Samuel Adams

Ground Broken for Fenway Park, 1911

Politicians and officials breaking ground on Fenway Park.

On this day in 1911, ground was broken on the historic Fenway Park, which has been home to the Boston Red Sox since it opened in 1912. Fenway Park is the oldest Major League Baseball Stadium used today.

Architect James McLaughlin originally designed Fenway, but since then, there have been many renovations. All in all, Fenway has a very unique, quirky design that gives the park character and charm (or should I say chahm?).

The Green Monster.

The iconic Green Monster, currently the highest wall in Major League Baseball, was part of the original design.  However, it was not painted green until 1947. Before that, it was covered in advertisements, and just called “The Wall.” The Green Monster is so important to the Red Sox that their mascot is a “Green Monster” named “Wally.”

The other Green Monster.

Other features of Fenway Park include The Triangle, Williamsburg, and the Lone Red Seat. The Red Seat marks where Ted Williams hit the longest home run at Fenway Park on June 9, 1946.

The Red Seat.

 

We love Fenway Park because we love antiques, be they rocking chairs or ballparks. But we love it even more because the eccentricities of the place mirror our own. It is, like us, difficult and cranky. And this makes it a mighty hard place for a player to play in. Too bad. Players come and go, but Fenway Park may become an American Pyramid.

-Clark Booth, Red Sox Sportscaster

I’ve never been to Fenway Park, but I really want to go and take a tour (because I’m a history nerd) and catch a game (because hot dogs).

Have you been to Fenway Park?

 

The Metropolitan Opera House Opens, 1966

On this day in 1966, the Metropolitan Opera House opened on Broadway at Lincoln Square in New York City. The new Met replaced an older Metropolitan Opera House on 39th Street that was established in 1883, but demolished in 1967 after it was deemed to small to house the growing Metropolitan Opera Company.

Former Metropolitan Opera House

The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, designed by Wallace K Harrison, has 3,800 seats and 195 places to stand to watch a performance.

The current Metropolitan Opera House, in all its glory.

Beautiful chandeliers hang in the auditorium before performances and are raised into the ceiling during the performance.

Here is a trailer for the upcoming season at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Okay, flashback time to my one and only opera experience:

I saw Romeo and Juliet at the Winspear Opera  House in Dallas with my French class in ninth grade, because the opera was in French for some reason (Italian setting + English playwright = French opera?). Everyone got dressed up and we rode there together on our yellow school bus.

We got there with plenty of time to spare, so we waded in the reflecting pool in front of the stunning opera house and visited the gift shop. I also decided to purchase some ridiculously overpriced Toblerone. It’s all part of the experience, I guess. Afterwards, we did some people watching, which was fun because there were some pretty highfalutin people there.

Eventually, we made our ways up and up and up to our humble nosebleed seats. The people around us were thrilled, I’m sure, to see a group of 20 ninth graders sit near them.

But I digress.

Like the Met, there was a stunning chandelier in the auditorium before the performance. Suddenly, the chandelier ascended into the ceiling, the lights dimmed, and the music began. I was so excited! And even though I knew the general story of Romeo and Juliet and I was a French student, I was relieved to see that English subtitles were projected onto the curtain above the stage. This is going to be great! I thought.

And it was… at first. Act 1 was glorious, but then it kept going and going and going. My excitement for opera waned as the night went on. This thing was LONG! By the end, I just couldn’t wait for the characters to die. When Juliet stabbed herself in the diaphragm, I thought, Yes! She can’t possibly sing now! It must be over! But no, she continues to sing even with the dagger lodged in her rib cage. How does that work? HOW? But finally, she collapsed for good, sang her last note, and the velvet curtains closed.

I wanted to love the opera, but it was just too long, and the music- beautiful at first- really started to irritate me by the end. But still, whenever I see a trailer for the opera, I think that I should give the opera another chance, if for no other reason than the Toblerone.

Do you like the opera? Do you like the idea of the opera?

September 11, 2001

On September 11, 2001, four planes were hijacked by terrorists for suicide attacks. Two of the planes hit the World Trade Center towers, one attacked the Pentagon, and one that was aimed for Washington, D.C. crashed into a field. Including those in the planes, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the attacks. It is the largest terrorist attack against the United States.

I lived through this tragic event in American history and witnessed the attack through my television. As a 5-year-old, I had trouble connecting to the images I saw on screen. I knew something terrible had occurred, but I was too young to comprehend the magnitude of the situation. What I really connected to was the shared sorrow of America, and the world, following the attack. Everything and everyone seemed a little darker around that time.

I am older now, and each year I am able to better understand the gravity of the events as well as the collective grief of my country, even though my own memories are fading more and more.

I will never fully understand the profound sadness of those who lost loved ones in the attacks, but each year I gain more understanding and empathy. I still cannot wrap my mind around the devastation that those four planes caused, but I keep trying.

Because there is more to the story than what a 5-year-old girl can comprehend. Because this is not just a news story but a truth that Americans have to live with everyday. Because we are living witnesses to a history that we cannot repeat. Because we are living witnesses to a history that we cannot forget.

Never forget.

Rachel Whiteread Wins British Turner Prize, 1993

The Turner Prize was created in 1984 to celebrate outstanding contemporary artists. The Turner Prize, organized by Tate Britain, goes to a British artist under 50 years of age in recognition of an excellent exhibition or other presentation of their art in the past year. (If you’re interested in British contemporary art or British art in general, check out the Tate collection of British art).

In 1993, Rachel Whiteread became the first woman to win the Turner Prize for her concrete cast of a London house, entitled House. This piece was very controversial, and the night Whiteread won the Turner Prize, she learned it would be demolished. In all fairness, Whiteread contractually agreed to the demolition of House eventually, but she was still dismayed to hear that its time on display was not extended.

House, the cast of an East End of London house about to be demolished, won Whiteread the Turner Prize.

Ironically enough, Whiteread won the K Foundation Art Award for “worst artist of the year” after winning the Turner Prize. Unlike the Turner Prize, the K Foundation was described by author James F. English as “hostile philanthropy,” perhaps trying to prove a point that what some saw as art, others saw as rubbish, or how the Turner Prize was supposedly fixed.

Judenplatz Holocaust memorial, 2000- Another one of Whiteread’s iconic sculptures. This austere concrete structure is an inverted library, meant to evoke harsh and unsettling emotions.

What do you think of Whiteread’s art? Love it? Hate it? Either way, it’s pretty cool how she made a name for herself- and blazed the trail for other women- in the contemporary art world by winning the Turner Prize.

Further reading:

For more information on House and its controversy, this article is excellent.

If you would like to read what Whiteread thought of House, this article is interesting.

Thanks for reading,

Emily