Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Payton Perspective: Name new regional park in Concord for Federal Glover or Bay Miwok Chupcan tribe who lived there

Saturday, May 8th, 2021

Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover and map of new regional park in Concord.

Antioch Mayor Thorpe adds his support to effort for naming it Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50 to honor “contributions made by Contra Costa’s African American community”; district staff recommends it without any general public outreach

Naming it for Supervisor Glover would better fulfill that goal

Or choose the historical name of Bay Miwok Chupcan Regional Park

District Board Executive Committee will discuss matter during Tuesday, May 11 meeting

Also name Antioch’s new park Roddy Ranch Regional Park

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Justice Thurgood Marshall. Official portrait 1976

An effort, launched last fall, is underway asking the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) Board of Directors to name their newest park, in Concord, after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall rather than for the Chupcan tribe of the Bay Miwok, who inhabited the area in the 1700’s, as had been planned. This past week, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe announced his support for the effort.

Now, district staff is recommending that name without any general public outreach to seek input on possible names, other than comments made during board meetings. The board’s Executive Committee will consider the matter during their meeting this next Tuesday, May 11. (See agenda item #3 and process for public comment at the end of this editorial)

The 2,540-acre, temporarily named Concord Hills Regional Park, located on the south side of Highway 4 and encompassing most of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station land, was slated to be named Chupcan Territories Regional Park. But last year, during a Sept. 3 EBRPD Board meeting public comment, Lewis Thrower, a spokesman for Citizens for Historical Equity proposed naming it for Justice Marshall because there are no regional parks in Contra Costa County named after African Americans. Marshall’s local connection is, as an attorney, he unsuccessfully represented the Port Chicago 50, the name given to the 50 Black sailors, during their mutiny trial, for defying orders of their Navy commanders to return to work after the disaster that took the lives of 320 sailors and civilians and injuring 390 others on July 17, 1944 during World  War II. That occurred while the stevedors were loading 5,000 tons of ammunition onto ships. The 50 sailors refused to return to work until safety measures had been put in place. They were each convicted on the charge of mutiny and given a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment and dishonorable discharge from the Navy.

Port Chicago stevedores. Source: NPS

According to a NY Times report, almost all the sailors were released at the end of the war, including “47 who were paroled to active duty aboard Navy vessels in the Pacific Theater. Two of the 50 prisoners remained in the prison’s hospital for additional months recuperating from injuries, and one was not released because of a bad conduct record. Those of the 50 who had not committed later offenses were given a general discharge from the Navy ‘under honorable conditions’.”

According to the EBRPD Board meeting minutes, several other members of the public spoke in support of the naming proposal including Royle Roberts of Black Democrats, Willie Mims of the Black Political Association and Mable Minney of the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. A white paper and an addendum on Thurgood Marshall, and a petition with over 700 signatures were cited, as well.

Port Chicago disaster damage. Source: NPS

Thorpe wrote on his mayor’s Facebook page on Thursday, May 6, “he has endorsed naming Contra Costa’s newest regional park– Thurgood Marshall Regional Park-Home of the Port Chicago 50.” The reason he gave is because, “the proposed name would be a major step towards expanding a county narrative that includes the contributions made by Contra Costa’s African American community.” He claimed that there were now 880 signatures of people in support of the effort.

Thrower and Citizens for Historical Equity recommended one or more neighboring parks be named Chupcan Territories Regional Park, instead. Thorpe reiterated that in a comment below his Facebook post, which has since been deleted.

During the meeting, Diana McDaniel from the Friends of the Port Chicago National Memorial suggested the name be Port Chicago Memorial Regional Park so people don’t forget.

Port Chicago National Memorial. Source: National Parks Service

However, as the name of her organization demonstrates, there already is recognition with the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial which was established in 1994 at the site and on the 50th anniversary of the disaster to honor those who lost their lives. Then, in 2019, on the 75th anniversary of the tragedy, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier and Barbara Lee reintroduced a resolution, HR 49, which states its purpose in the first paragraph as, “Recognizing the victims of the Port Chicago explosion of July 17, 1944, the 75th anniversary of the greatest homeland loss of life of World War II, and exonerating the 50 African-American sailors unjustly court-martialed by the Navy.” It passed the House in December 2019 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1790) listed in Sec. 540N as “Sense of Congress on the Port Chicago 50”. But the exoneration of the sailors was removed by the Senate before it was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 20.

According to the memorial’s Wikipedia page, “the Port Chicago Committee is working to expand the current memorial to encompass 250 acres of the former Port Chicago waterfront.” Recognition of the Port Chicago 50 and Justice Marshall could be included there.

Bay Miwok tribes map and SF Bay Area tribe maps. Source: EBRPD

Bay Miwok Chupcan Tribe

According to ConcordHistory.com, “a small tribelet of Chupcan (Bay Miwok) Indians composed the first inhabitants of our valley. Dominated by a great mountain to their south, the Chupcan lived along the valley’s streams which flowed north to the wide tule marshes on the edge of the Bay.”

According to the Bay Miwok Content by Beverly R. Ortiz, Ph.D. on the EBRPD website, there were about 1,800 to 2,000 Bay Miwoks living in the area in six different tribes before 1770. According to the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, “One of those tribes, or tribelets as scholars call them, were the Chupcan of Diablo Valley.”

While Marshall was the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice and represented the Port Chicago 50 while an attorney, he wasn’t from Contra Costa County and to honor him by naming a regional park for justice does not expand “a county narrative that includes the contributions made by Contra Costa’s African American community.”

A more appropriate place to honor the Port Chicago 50 would be at the national memorial by adding each of the sailors’ names, now that they’ve been exonerated. Justice Marshall’s name could be added to it, as well for his efforts in defending them at trial. Their names should be listed on the National Parks Service website for the memorial, as well.

Federal Glover or Bay Miwok Chupcan Regional Park

Concord Hills Regional Park. Photo by Stephen Joseph Fine Art Photography. Courtesy of EBRPD.

If the goal is to honor contributions made by Contra Costa’s African American community, then I think a more appropriate name would be the Federal Glover Regional Park, for the first African American to serve our county on the Board of Supervisors and who has done so for over 20 years. In addition, he served the City of Pittsburg, East County and the county on transportation boards while a council member, prior to that. I would say Federal is the African American who has contributed more to our county than any other and should be recognized instead of the former justice who had a fleeting connection.

If not, then it should be named for the historic tribe that inhabited that part of our county. Since it’s doubtful that even those familiar with the history of the native peoples of Contra Costa would recognize the tribal name of Chupcan – it was news to me – Bay Miwok should be included in the name. If that’s the direction, then the new park should be named the Bay Miwok Chupcan Regional Park.

Roddy Ranch Regional Park

Also, while the Board is considering names for the district’s regional parks, instead of Deer Valley Regional Park, the newest one planned for East County, on the land owned and sold to the district by long-time rancher Jack Roddy, it should instead be named the Roddy Ranch Regional Park to keep the historical significance.

Public Comments

Members of the public can listen to and view the EBRPD Board Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 11 in the following way: Via the Park District’s live video stream, on the Park District’s YouTube channel, which can be found at https://youtu.be/pvK6M5XWBPI (The YouTube link may not function properly when using Internet Explorer. The optimal browser for viewing the live stream of the meeting is Chrome.)

Public comments may be submitted:

  1. Live via Zoom. If you would like to make a live public comment during the meeting this option is available through the virtual meeting platform: https://ebparks.zoom.us/j/94499652339. Note that this virtual meeting platform link will let you into the virtual meeting for the purpose of providing a public comment. If you do not intend to make a public comment please use the Youtube link above to observe the meeting. It is preferred that those requesting to speak during the meeting contact Becky Pheng at bpheng@ebparks.org by 5:00 pm on Monday, May 10, 2021 via email or voicemail at 510-544-2005 to provide their name and subject of the public comment or item to be addressed.
  2. Via Email to Becky Pheng at bpheng@ebparks.org by 5:00 pm on Monday, May 10, 2021. Email must contain in the subject line “Public Comments – not on the agenda” or “Public Comments – agenda item #”.
  3. Via Voicemail at 510-544-2005. The caller must start the message by stating “Public Comments – not on the agenda” or “Public Comments – agenda item #” followed by their name and place of residence, followed by their comments.
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Save the date! Antioch Juneteenth Celebration to be held June 19th

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Location to be announced.

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Antioch Historical Society honors May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with history lesson

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

Ah Young and Hans Ho. Photos courtesy of Antioch Historical Museum.

By Antioch Historical Museum

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time for recognizing the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans.

In 1992 Congress designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The Month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the US on May 7, 1843 and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. It was officially changed in 2009 to Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Chinese History in Antioch – Past & Present

Chinese Immigrants began arriving in the United States in significant numbers during the California Gold rush of 1848 -1855.

When gold was discovered in the American River at Coloma there were approximately 350 Chinese in California, by 1865 their total population was more than 50,000. The Chinese came searching for gold after a decade of oppression from the Qing empire. They were lured with flyers from shipping agents who described California as Gum San (“Gold Mountain”).

When they arrived in California the San Francisco Chinese merchants (six companies) organized them provided supplies and transportation to the diggings. The Chinese banded together in groups of 50 or more per mining site. They settled in camps scattered along the river tributaries where gold was found. In 1850, the state imposed a foreign miner’s tax that was targeted at the Chinese and Mexican miners.

It was in 1865 that the Central Pacific Railroad decided to hire 50 Chinese laborers to supplement their work force. Railroad management was at first uncomfortable with this decision due to the growing anti-Chinese sentiment in the state, but to the railroads surprise the Chinese proved to be good workers.

By the end of that year the Railroad had employed about 7,000 Chinese which was about 78% of the workforce.

When Chinese groups arrived at the City of Antioch a small “Chinatown” was established consisting of homes and stores on both sides of Second and First Street. In May 1876 the anti-Chinese sentiments of the Antioch community reached a boiling point. The Chinese were asked to leave and a resistance led to Chinatown being destroyed which was chronicled (May 2nd) in the Sacramento Bee and the Daily Evening Express.

Today the only remnants remaining of Antioch’s Chinatown are the tunnels beneath downtown Antioch. The Palace Hotel demolition in 1926, to make room for the El Campanil Theatre, uncovered a large section of the Chinese tunnel.

A 1851 county law prohibited Chinese from appearing on the streets after dusk. The tunnels are said to have been used by Chinese service workers to travel to work without walking the streets. The use of the tunnels is one of the examples of the patience and endurance of the Chinese people to persevere and overcome challenges.

Although it is well documented the unjust treatment Chinese residents were subjected to, it would be wrong and one-sided to give the impression that the community’s view of Chinese in Antioch was entirely negative, there were positive images as well.

Two examples, Ah Young and the collaboration between West Shore Canning and Hickmott Company. Contemporary Antiochians fondly recall Ah Young, a Chinese farmer “gardener” who owned a successful business growing and selling vegetables door to door in the 1920’s and shipped the excess to San Francisco and Stockton by ferryboat. His “garden”, located in the marsh behind the current Antioch Historical Society Museum location, is now part of the Dow Wetlands Preserve.

There was also the West Shore Canning Company that existed from 1920 to 1931 in Antioch which was part of a 60/40 consortium of American (The Robert Hickmott Company) and Chinese owned (West Shore Cannery) businesses. The Cannery was situated at the end of “B” Street on the river. The Chinese owned West Shore Cannery (Lew Hing -Owner) was a fruit canning operation that leased the property after the Hickmott’ s canning season ended.

The West Shore Cannery went back to Oakland consolidating into the Pacific Coast canners.

Modern Era Chinese In Antioch

There are many successful and prominent citizens in Antioch of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. For our purposes here, we would like to introduce Mr. Hansel “Hans” Ho. He is a Museum member & volunteer and has been an Antioch resident since 1995. His story is exemplary of the best of American and Chinese traditions.

Hans was born in Hong Kong in1950. The bankruptcy of his family’s business in the mid 1960’s meant an abrupt change in lifestyle but, in retrospect, the key to his later successes. His family immigrated to the US in 1967, landing in San Francisco with next to no money.

Hans was fortunate to be able to attend St. Paul’s College, the earliest and most prestigious Anglo-Chinese school in Hong Kong. This quality education contributed to his subsequent success in higher education. He obtained degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley and later earned his PhD in Chemistry. During these times, he managed to scrape a living through scholarships, loans, grants, and entry-level part-time work.

It paid off – The degrees enabled him to make a good living and advancements in his career. Since 1974 Hans’ career was in the petroleum industry, starting as an entry level chemist, promoted to the research department and shortly after promoted to management.

He achieved executive rank at Neste (national oil company of Finland) and in 1994 became the Technical Director and Division Manager for Telfer Oil Company, a local family-owned company based in Martinez with satellite terminals throughout California – Retiring in 2017 after 23 years with the Company.

In testament to his community consciousness, he’s served as Co-Chair of the CALTRANS Pavement Preservation Task Group, selected to be Industry Co-Chair of the Center for Pavement Preservation (CP2) at CSU, Chico and invited to guest lecture there to the graduate students in the Engineering Dept.

In 2004, he was appointed by Mayor Don Freitas to the Antioch Crime Prevention Commission and served both as Chair and Neighborhood Watch Coordinator. He continues to serve as Neighborhood Watch Coordinator and as Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Coordinator today.

Han’s Philosophy

Did I have to overcome racial prejudices? Of course, I did. My way was to show my peers, despite their misgivings, that I can perform my duties better and work harder than anyone else around me. I believe truly that respect is earned, never given.

The Antioch Historical Museum is located at 1500 West 4th Street in Antioch. For more information call (925) 757-5326 or visit www.antiochhistoricalmuseum.org or their Facebook page.

 

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Antioch Mayor proposes formal apology, historic recognition for city’s Chinatown being burned down in 1870’s

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe held a press conference with other local officials and community leaders denouncing anti-Asian hate and announcing proposals for recognizing the history of Chinese in Antioch, including the racist attacks against them in the late 1800’s.

Signs proclamation denouncing anti-Asian racism; also proposes youth mural project

By Allen Payton

During a press conference held Wednesday morning, April 14, 2021, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe proposed a resolution formally apologizing for the burning down of the city’s Chinatown in 1876, a historic district in the area of the city’s downtown where it was located and funding a permanent display in the Antioch Historical Society Museum, and an historic mural project by Antioch youth. In addition, he signed the proclamation adopted by the city council during last night’s meeting denouncing anti-Asian racism. (See video of press conference)

Thorpe also mentioned an incident that occurred, yesterday an attack against two Asian women outside the County Market, the city’s largest Asian grocery store. According to Antioch Police Chief T Brooks, it was a strong arm robbery. More details will be released, today.

Community College Board Trustee Andy Li is presented with the proclamation by Mayor Thorpe during the press conference on Wednesday.

Following is the PROCLAMATION DENOUNCING ANTI-ASIAN RACISM

Unanimously approved by the Antioch City Council on April 13, 2021

WHEREAS, Antioch is home to diverse communities and has been for many generations;

WHEREAS, we are disturbed and alarmed by the severity and frequency of hate crimes and race-based harassment against Asians and the Asian Pacific Islander Communities associated with COVID-19;

WHEREAS, the Asian-American experience in the Bay Area is a complex and multi-faceted history; WHEREAS, the first major wave of Asians came to the Bay Area during the Gold Rush and many worked on the transcontinental railroad in the nineteenth century and were met with racial hostility and animosity;

WHEREAS, in 1876, Antioch’s Chinatown was burned down and it later became Waldie Plaza. People of Chinese heritage were banned from walking Antioch City streets after sunset;

WHEREAS, during the late-nineteenth century, anti-Chinese sentiment resulted in conflict and extremely restrictive regulations and norms concerning where Asian Americans could live and in which occupations they could work, which were often enforced with violence;

WHEREAS, today, there are nearly 1.7 million Asians in the Bay Area, constituting nearly 24 percent of the overall population. We pledge to not repeat the egregious acts of discrimination in past and present history;

WHEREAS, having Chinese ancestry – or any other ancestry – does not make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. No race, nationality or ethnicity is responsible for COVID-19;

WHEREAS, ignorance is the lifeblood of conspiracies that hamper our ability to fight the pandemic and endanger the most vulnerable; and

WHEREAS, the City of Antioch recognizes the negative impact of institutional and structural racism, past and present.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, LAMAR A. THORPE, Mayor of the City of Antioch, do hereby proclaim that racism against Asians and Asian Americans shall not be tolerated in any form, AND we stand in support of individuals and communities targeted by association with COVID-19, AND we urge everyone to interrupt instances of racisms and

intolerance by speaking up in support of equity, justice, and inclusion.

LAMAR A. THORPE, Mayor

The mayor then presented the signed proclamation to Andi Li, Area 4 Representative on the Contra Costa Community College District Board of Trustees. Li thanked the mayor and council for the proclamation and shared some additional history of Chinese residents in Antioch and the U.S. helping build the transcontinental railroad and the levees in the Delta.

“Thank you, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and the city council, for joining many other government entities and passing the resolution to condemn anti-Asian hate crimes. Thank you, Antioch residents for supporting the API community.  I am very honored to accept the resolution,” Li said. “In America, the overall hate crime rate decreased by 7% in 2020, but against Asian Americans, it increased by 160%.  It created hardship for many Asian families including my family. The resolution is very important for Asian Pacific Islanders, especially those living in Antioch.  It let us see the support from the community during this hardship. So, thank you very much.”

Thorpe’s Proposals

Dwayne Eubanks, president of the Antioch Historical Society spoke about a permanent display at the museum.

Thorpe proposed “funding some sort of permanent exhibit at the Antioch Historical Society Museum.”

Dwayne Eubanks, president of the society spoke of “a permanent program with exhibits to examine our past. May is Asian Pacific Islander Month and we will be having displays.”

According to Stan Davis, Treasurer of the Historical Society, as well as the city’s former Director of Public Works and City Engineer, who has lived here since 1964, no previous mayor or council has proposed an apology for the past anti-Chinese racism and burning down of Antioch’s Chinatown that he’s aware of.

The mayor also proposed the city “designate a Chinatown Historic District with appropriate signage and story which timelines what happened, here for residents to enjoy and others to come to our community to enjoy.”

Former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts, who is president of the Rivertown Preservation Society, then spoke saying, “today we take the first step in recognizing a difficult part of our city’s history.” Following are her prepared remarks:

“On behalf of the Rivertown Preservation Society I am proud to be here today as we gather to ensure that the past and present story of Antioch is one that acknowledges our complex history and generations of diverse populations that built our community. Some may say that what happened in the past has no effect on who we are today. We believe this to be incorrect and that to the contrary, to not acknowledge the wrongs or intolerances of yesterday, can only make more plausible that they may happen again.  When we speak of atrocities such as 9/11 or Nazi concentration camps, for those that experienced these times, they will tell you to never forget.  To not remember, to not discuss, to not teach about acts that caused great pain, and human despair, we are most likely doomed to repeat.  Whether it effects a nation or a small community, memorializing difficult times and times of great celebration should be and frankly must be part of our story.

So, today the City of Antioch takes a first step in remembering a very tough part of our history, of our Chinese residents who were so instrumental in building our Antioch community and communities of the bay area and state of California. And what makes this acknowledgment and proclamation important and of even more significance is the intolerable hate that has most recently befallen our Asian communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Here, in Antioch, we will fight against racism and intolerance against people of all ethnicities and fight for equity, justice and inclusion and by doing so we will never forget.”

“Our Parks and Recreation Commission will play a role as well,” Thorpe said. Marie Arce, chair of the commission then spoke briefly of “acknowledging our wrongdoings”.

To “engage our youth” Thorpe then proposed “a downtown mural project that recognizes our Chinese American residents’ contributions to the community.”

Antioch School Board Vice President, Dr. Clyde Lewis spoke next, saying “in order for us to understand ourselves, where we want to be, we have to look at where we’ve been.” He wants to have an “encouraging conversation in moving our community forward.” Lewis spoke of his own family, his wife and children, who are of the AAPI community.

Thorpe then introduced District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, and mentioned Lewis and Eubanks, saying, “as African Americans, we know the pain of not having your government acknowledge” and offering “no apologies, no reparations…for historical wrongs.”

District 1 Antioch Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker shared her thoughts during the press conference.

His fourth proposal was for “advancing a resolution that officially apologizes for the terrorizing of our Chinese residents.” That will require formal council approval and Thorpe said he will place it on a future council agenda.

Torres-Walker spoke next saying, “I stand here, today as a Black Latina in solidarity with the API community against all racial hate and harm. What side of history are we on in Antioch, in the Bay Area and across our country? We stand here before you to recognize a moment in time. We are not born hateful. Hate is learned. Antioch has chosen to rise from the ashes of a horrible past into a more inclusive future. To move forward in the future where we are not defined by our past. We have got to do differently in the City of Antioch for communities of color and poor communities.”

She then recited the Pledge of Allegiance, saying “when we say ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…I cringe, because today we still do not have liberty, which is freedom…for people in dark bodies who face harm.”

“I’m happy to stand here, today in a dark body as a Black Latina to say ‘we see you’,” Torres-Walker added.

UPDATE: She later posted the following “Full modified statement from yesterday’s Mayor’s press conference” on her council Facebook page on Thursday, April 15:

“When you buy your first home, you don’t say I sure am going to fill it with hate. When you move to a community, you don’t say to yourself, I sure can’t wait to bring as much hate and harm to this community as possible. I stand here today as a black Latina in solidarity with the API community against all racial hate and harm,” said Torres-Walker. “I do not stand here today to apologize for whiteness. That is not my role. It is not my role as a person who has to show up every day in a dark body to apologize for white fragility, anti-blackness, transphobia, xenophobe, racism, classism, othering fear, white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. That is not my role.”

Torres-Walker asked what side of history they were on today was the question where she highlighted people have been denied the privilege to walk freely on the streets and were forced underground.

“We are not born hateful. Hate is learned and passed down through generations and because Antioch has chosen to rise through the ashes of a horrible past into a more inclusive future we stand here before you all today united against racial hate,” said Torres-Walker. “We say that opportunity lives here in Antioch. Opportunity can only live here in Antioch when we all as Antioch residents fight just as hard for belonging as we have to get beyond our past and to move forward to a future where we are not defined by our past and we acknowledge our past so that everybody can belong.”

She thanked the Mayor for standing up today, but they needed to do better and differently for communities of color and poor communities.

“When we say I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America… I cringe,” stated Torres-Walker. “Today, we still do not have liberty which is freedom. We still do not have justice which is slow to come for communities of color and people in dark bodies who face harm.”

Thorpe then said he will be working with the historical society to develop the price tag for the permanent display at the museum and for establishing the historic Chinatown district.

Asked why this is being proposed now, Thorpe responded, “The impetus for this, now is we are all learning about this. As terms of this history of Antioch I learned about it when our former Mayor Don Freitas took me on a tour and told me about the tunnels. Eventually we would have gotten here because our council is very cognizant of culture and equity.”

Asked if there will be an effort to find the descendants of the owners of the land in Antioch’s Chinatown which includes Waldie Plaza and the two parking lots on each side of it that is now owned by the city, to compensate them, Thorpe responded that he will ask Eubanks to include that in the Historical Society’s research.

The funding will come from the General Fund, the mayor said, and the formal apology will be on the council agenda in early May. “I can apologize right here, right now but I think it’s more appropriate that the governing body do it…not just me,” Thorpe added.

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Antioch July 4th fireworks returns to Rivertown this year, fundraising underway

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

The annual Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks in Antioch will return to historic, downtown Rivertown, this year with the show being shot from a barge on the river. Organized by Celebrate Antioch Foundation (CAF) and Rivertown merchants, fundraising has begun, and you can be part of making it a reality. Costs will be close to $60,000 and your help is needed. Following is the fundraising letter from CAF:

Dear Friends,

We at the Celebrate Antioch Foundation hope you are staying safe and well and that you, your businesses, friends and family are weathering these most extraordinary and difficult times. Last year, at this time, we were preparing for a full year of celebrations for our Antioch community that included our annual events such as the May Art and Wine Walk, our September Peddlers Faire, our Fall BBQ Cook Off and Beer Crawl, our Christmas Holiday Parade and of course, our signature event, our 4th of July Fireworks and celebration. As we all know, COVID-19 had other plans and we were unable to hold any of our events in 2020. Although we are not out of the woods yet on the pandemic, we hope you see, as we do, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we can carefully plan for events for 2021. We also know that all planning must take into consideration enhanced Covid-19 safety measures and protocols for all events so when the County health Department allows us to open for events, we will be able to move forward expeditiously.

Our all-volunteer foundation believes that as vaccine distribution continues to expand and are looking at most of the adult population to be vaccinated by May 2021 that our community and families are now more than ever, in need of reasons to celebrate. Bringing vibrancy and celebration to our community has been our mission for over 10 years and we are committed to continuing this legacy.

Our fundraising this year and our request to you for sponsorship and support is specifically for our 2021 4th of July Fireworks celebration. We are ecstatic to be bringing our annual 4th of July Fireworks back to downtown Antioch with what we believe is one of the best pyrotechnics shows in the Bay Area. And with the City of Antioch’s upcoming 150th (Sesquicentennial) anniversary on July 4th, 2022, we cannot think of a better way to kick off a year of celebration for one of the oldest cities in California. We hope to include in this year’s 4th of July celebration our annual parade, live music, and a huge car show, depending on COVID-19 restrictions. Although restrictions may not allow us to include all of these usual amenities of our celebration, we are confident that restrictions, if any, will still allow for a socially distanced Fireworks show over the river that can be enjoyed by our Antioch families and east county residents.

Costs for our Fireworks Spectacular will be close to $60,000. Although we have a reserve in our Foundation, we will not be able to bring this celebration to our community without support. We are immensely proud of our 10-year history in bringing safe and family friendly celebrations to our residents and families. We know that these types of events promote a healthy quality of life, economic vibrancy and community pride. We hope you will join with us by donating for our 4th of July celebration as we look to recover, rebuild and celebrate our great community.

We have attached our sponsor’s levels information for you to review. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. We are a nonprofit 501c3 organization and your sponsorship may be tax deductible. We look forward to your support and participation in another great Antioch 4th of July. 2021 Antioch July 4th Sponsorship Levels

Yours in Service,

Joy Motts

President, Celebrate Antioch Foundation

To make a donation please visit www.celebrateantioch.org or make your check payable to: Celebrate Antioch Foundation ID# 46-1820212. Mailing Address: P.O. Box 121, Antioch, CA 94509.

For more information contact Joy Motts at (925) 813-0036 or Michael Gabrielson at (925) 642-7031.

 

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DeSaulnier, Lee introduce Confronting and Correcting Historical Injustices Act

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Bill will “establish commission for Review and Correction of Historical Injustices, and for other purposes.

The Congressman hopes to address the unfair treatment of the Port Chicago 50 during World War II

Representatives DeSaulnier & Lee. Official photos.

Washington, DC – Today, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D, CA-13) announced the introduction of the Confronting and Correcting Historical Injustices Act (H.R. 1196), a bill that would establish a commission to recognize and remedy the discrimination suffered by individuals and groups at the hands of the federal government.

The bill would create the Commission for Review and Correction of Historical Injustices, an independent commission responsible for reviewing and investigating federal cases in which individuals and groups have been unjustly discriminated against by federal agencies or entities. Cases eligible for consideration experienced discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, and where the original act of discrimination led to a charge, conviction, discharge, or dismissal. The Commission would also be responsible for recommending legislative or executive action to adequately make whole those who experienced discrimination.

The proposed bill does not yet include any text, according to the Congressional legislation website.

“Now more than ever, we need to come together as a nation to dismantle the systems that were built to disadvantage people of color and other marginalized groups. To do that, we must confront and correct the injustices the federal government has perpetrated that were based on bias, discrimination, and hate,” said DeSaulnier. “I can think of no better way to celebrate Black History Month than publicly acknowledging those injustices and setting them right. Only by addressing the past can we begin healing the stark divides that continue to exist in our country. I am grateful to lead this effort with a civil rights champion like Congresswoman Lee.

The bill is in addition to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s (D, TX-18) Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (H.R. 40), that she reintroduced, last month.

“For too long, the federal government has played a central role in creating unjust policies across the United States, from redlining and mortgage discrimination to the systemic racism in our public health system that persists today,” said Lee. “It’s past time that we recognize the legacy of racial inequality in our institutions and call on the federal government to address these historical injustices. The Confronting and Correcting Historical Injustices Act is a critical step in demanding accountability and action from the federal government in order to move forward. I thank Congressman DeSaulnier for his leadership on this issue.”

One example that inspired this legislation is the case of the Port Chicago 50. On July 17, 1944 at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in DeSaulnier’s district and hometown of Concord, California, 435 African American munitions sailors, who were not properly trained or supported by the Navy, were killed or injured when a cargo vessel exploded as they were loading munitions. When 50 of these men refused to return to the unsafe working conditions that killed their fellow sailors without additional supports or training, they were discriminately charged and convicted of mutiny. Without a process like the one the bill creates in place, the families of the Port Chicago 50 have been unable to have their loved ones exonerated.

“Wow! I’m so grateful to Congressman DeSaulnier and Congresswoman Lee for this bill to establish a Commission for Review and Correction of Historical Injustices. It has been long overdue. There has been a painful legacy of injustices in this country and I am hopeful it will help in the exoneration of the Port Chicago 50 who were found guilty of mutiny and severely sentenced even though no mutinous acts occurred. The Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial would like their names to be cleared and the convictions removed,” said Rev. Diana McDaniel of the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial.

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Antioch Council honors city’s first African American resident Tuesday night

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

Thomas Gaines. Photo: City of Antioch

Part of Black History Month

During last night’s meeting the Antioch City Council adopted a resolution honoring the city’s first African American, declaring yesterday, February 9, 2021 as Thomas Gaines Day in Antioch. Following is the text of the resolution: Thomas Gaines Day resolution 020921

CELEBRATING THOMAS GAINES DAY IN ANTIOCH

FEBRUARY 9, 2021

WHEREAS, Since the beginning of Antioch in the 1800’s our community has become home for new residents from around the world; and

WHEREAS, In the 1860’s an emancipated slave named Thomas Gaines came to Antioch and worked as a laborer on the Antioch docks; and

WHEREAS, Thomas Gaines was the only African American resident of Antioch between 1860 and the 1940’s; and

WHEREAS, He lived in a red brick shack on the waterfront in the back of the Antioch Lumber Company; and

WHEREAS, On February 28, 1875, Thomas Gaines became a member of the First Congregational Church by profession of faith; and

WHEREAS, Thomas Gaines was highly regarded around town for his noble work and his caring attention towards others – he regularly walked women and children home from church for safety; and

WHEREAS, Today Antioch celebrates a rich cultural heritage and inspiring diversity, and collaborates with several community partners to recognize Black History Month in February with special events and impressive exhibits.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, LAMAR THORPE, Mayor of the City of Antioch, do hereby proclaim February 9, 2021, as “THOMAS GAINES DAY” during Black History Month and the Black History Month Exhibit Days and I encourage all citizens, schools, and organizations to learn more about Antioch’s cultural history, Black History Month, and Thomas Gaines, the first African American resident.

 

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Pearl Harbor veterans to be honored in virtual “Eye of Diablo” Beacon-Lighting Ceremony December 7

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

Mount Diablo’s Beacon lights the nighttime sky on December 7. Copyright Stephen Joseph; used with permission.

Commemorative Pictorial Postmark Announced

By Laura Kindsvater, Communications Manager, Save Mount Diablo

This December 7th, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, three local survivors of World War II’s “Day of Infamy”—the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941—will share their stories as part of a virtual ceremony filmed primarily atop Mount Diablo.

Sponsors of the yearly event, including local land trust Save Mount Diablo, California State Parks, Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Chapter 5, and California State University– East Bay, are proud to present a virtual celebration this year beginning at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Monday, December 7th.

In a 45-minute video, three local East Bay survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack will recount their experiences that fateful day. Speakers will then pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives and honor those yet living, “Lest We Forget” the tragedy that befell the country nearly six decades ago and the way we came together after the attack.

Three Pearl Harbor survivors and the crowd celebrating the Beacon being lit and looking up to the Summit of Mount Diablo from the California State University–East Bay Concord Campus on December 7, 2018. Photo by Richard Usinger.

“When that beacon light is turned on, that’s a tribute to those individuals who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor,” said Pearl Harbor survivor Earl “Chuck” Kohler from Concord.

Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director Ted Clement noted, “This year it is especially important that we come together as a nation to honor National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and those who served. Reflecting on that day and the aftermath reminds us of the strength of our nation when we come together even amidst great adversity. Our December 7th virtual event will enable more people to come together on this important day.”

Eddie Guaracha, California State Parks Diablo Range District Superintendent, stated, “As we reflect on this historic event, it is not only critical to remember the many lives that were lost, but also to remember the selfless acts undertaken by many on this fateful day. This is the spirit of our country in critical times. It is an honor to represent California State Parks on this momentous occasion, and I hope we can all remember to radiate kindness toward one another, as we remember those who gave all on this day.”

“As we pass through difficult, often divisive times ourselves, the sacrifices borne by the American people following that fateful morning some 79 years ago should give us all an enormous sense of pride, and most importantly, hope for the future. Cal State East Bay is honored to once again participate in this annual act of remembrance,” said Robert Phelps, Director of the California State University–East Bay (Concord Campus).

The U.S. Postal Service, in commemoration of this year’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, is issuing a special pictorial postmark. The postmark can be obtained by following the instructions here.

Those interested in witnessing this year’s virtual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Ceremony can find the video link on Save Mount Diablo’s home page at 4:30 PM on December 7th at www.savemountdiablo.org.

Background

Every year since 1964, the Pearl Harbor survivors and their families have memorialized Pearl Harbor Day by relighting the historic Beacon atop Mount Diablo’s summit.

The Beacon was originally lit by Charles Lindbergh in 1928 to assist in the early days of commercial aviation. The Beacon shone from the summit of Mount Diablo each night until December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

It was not relit until December 7, 1964, when Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces during World War II, attended a ceremony on Mount Diablo’s summit in commemoration of the survivors of Pearl Harbor. He suggested that the Beacon be lit every December 7th to honor those who served and sacrificed.

Save Mount Diablo, California State Parks, the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Chapter 5, California State University–East Bay (Concord Campus), and others organize the annual lighting ceremony of the Beacon every December 7th in honor of the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

One of the bright lights provided to the San Francisco Bay Area during this pandemic is the Mount Diablo Beacon, which Save Mount Diablo staff and volunteers light every Sunday night after sunset so that the Beacon can shine brightly through the darkness until it is rested after sunrise on Monday.

Save Mount Diablo’s lighting of the Beacon every week is a way to thank our heroes in these troubling times, to help our communities come together, and to remind people to lift their eyes to the light and nature.

Save Mount Diablo began this weekly lighting of the Beacon on Sunday, April 12th, Easter Sunday. However, the Beacon will not be lit on Sunday, November 29th and Sunday, December 6th to build anticipation for and honor the coming National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. After the December 7th ceremonial lighting of the Beacon, Save Mount Diablo will resume the weekly lighting of the Beacon for as long as the pandemic rages here.

Commemorative Pictorial Postmark Announced

As a community service, the U.S. Postal Service™ offers pictorial postmarks to commemorate local events celebrated in communities throughout the nation.

Those who wish to obtain the postmark may submit a mail order request. Requests must be postmarked no later than 30 days following the requested pictorial postmark date.

All requests must include a stamped envelope or postcard bearing at least the minimum First-Class Mail® postage. Items submitted for postmark may not include postage issued after the date of the requested postmark. Such items will be returned unserviced.

Customers wishing to obtain a postmark must affix stamps to any envelope or postcard of their choice, address the envelope or postcard to themselves or others, insert a card of postcard thickness in envelopes for sturdiness, and tuck in the flap. Place the envelope or postcard in a larger envelope and address it to: Pictorial Postmarks, followed by the Name of the Station, Address, City, State, ZIP+4® Code, as listed next to the postmark.

Customers can also send stamped envelopes and postcards without addresses for postmark, as long as they supply a larger envelope with adequate postage and their return address. After applying the pictorial postmark, the Postal Service returns the items (with or without addresses) under addressed protective cover.

About Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors

It is the mission of the SDPHS to create programs that inspire youth and adults to learn and document the history of the beginning of WWII and the days that followed from people who experienced it and from their ancestors. Learn more at www.sdphs.org.

About Save Mount Diablo

SMD is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources. Learn more at www.savemountdiablo.org.

About California State Parks

To provide for the health, inspiration, and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov.

About California State University–East Bay

Cal State East Bay welcomes and supports a diverse student body with academically rich, culturally relevant learning experiences that prepare students to apply their education to meaningful lifework, and to be socially responsible contributors to society. Through its educational programs and activities, the university strives to meet the educational needs and to contribute to the vitality of the East Bay, the state, the nation, and global communities. Learn more at www.csueastbay.edu.

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