East Bay Yesterday
Summary: East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
From jumping off pianos with James Brown to running the streets with Etta James, Sugar Pie DeSanto has led a wild life. In this episode, the soul singer shares memories of performing in Oakland’s legendary 1950s blues clubs, stunning global audiences with her risqué moves, and making grown men cry. As Sugar Pie puts it, “I’m one of the roughest women you could ever know. I ain’t to be played with!” Listen now to find out what happened when one aggressive fan learned this lesson the hard way. Special thanks to Mr. Jim Moore and Jasman Records. Support Sugar Pie DeSanto by purchasing her music at: http://sugarpiedesanto.com/ Also, check out my article about Sugar Pie in this week’s issue of East Bay Express: https://www.eastbayexpress.com/
“OG Told Me” isn’t just a new book, it’s a survival guide packed full of advice that Pendarvis Harshaw gathered from more than 50 interviews with Black elders. This episode takes a trip back in time though hyphy-era sideshows, graffiti yards and even a possibly haunted building in downtown Oakland.
For decades, millions of drivers passing through Emeryville saw an ever-changing array of giant statues along the bayshore. In addition to the towering wooden vikings, dragons and other whimsical creatures, activists used driftwood and trash to build monumental projects responding to the tumultuous political era. This episode traces the rise and fall of this “renegade drive-thru art gallery” and explores the concept of public art. Featuring interviews with Joey Enos, Tom Enos, Denise Neal, Lincoln Cushing and Tim Drescher. Be sure to follow East Bay Yesterday on social media to see photos of the “Emeryville mudflat sculptures.”
Dorothea Lange is one of the most famous photographers of all time, but the local work she did during her many decades as an East Bay resident is often overlooked. This episode explores how she went from taking portraits of the Bay Area’s wealthiest families to documenting the poor and working class. Dorothea’s goddaughter, Elizabeth Partridge, and Drew Johnson, curator of the Oakland Museum’s new Dorothea Lange exhibition, share insights on what makes her photographs so iconic—and why they’re still so relevant. “Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing” is showing at the Oakland Museum of California from May 13 through August 13, 2017. For details, visit: http://museumca.org/exhibit/dorothea-lange-politics-seeing
Long before the Athletics moved to Oakland, teams like the Colonels, the Larks and the Aztec Stars played baseball in the East Bay. Special guest contributor Cyrus Farivar digs into the roots of our national pastime—and even visits “vintage” game. Did you know that Oakland’s first black mayor was a pitcher in the West Coast Negro League? This is just one of the many stories explored in today’s episode. Play ball!
Four decades after the U.S. government incarcerated nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans, long-hidden evidence revealed that the reason behind the mass imprisonment was a lie. This episode explores how the discovery a “smoking gun” report led to Oakland native Fred Korematsu re-opening his World War II-era Supreme Court case. Korematu’s lawyer, Dale Minami, shares how lessons learned from this “civil rights disaster” can help prevent another injustice of this magnitude—or worse.
Have you ever wondered what the East Bay was like before colonization? In this episode, Corrina Gould of Indian People Organizing for Change shares knowledge of how her ancestors, the Ohlone people, maintained a relatively peaceful culture here for thousands of years. Although this history was nearly wiped out, struggles to protect sacred shellmound sites—some of them older than the Egyptian pyramids—have sparked a movement to honor this region’s original inhabitants and reclaim “lost” languages, crafts and practices.
Bruce Lee’s time in the East Bay affected him profoundly. This episode explores how a legendary fight sparked an evolution that changed martial arts forever. Charles Russo, author of “Striking Distance,” and Gary Cagaanan, an Oakland native who trained in one of Bruce Lee’s schools, share insights into this hard-hitting history.
Although rarely credited, Berkeley became America’s first sanctuary city on November 8, 1971. This episode explores how an ancient idea was revived in protest of the Vietnam War and again to support Central American refugees during the 1980s. With sanctuary cities under attack by the Trump administration, learn how the sanctuary movement started—and triumphed over previous crackdowns by the U.S. government. Featuring interviews with: Jose Artiga, Sister Maureen Duignan, Bennett Falk and Prof. Jennifer Ridgley.
In the mid-1990s, the East Bay was the center of the punk rock universe. Lookout Records co-founder Larry Livermore shares his thoughts on the surprising origins of the scene that produced the biggest-selling punk band of all time and countless other influential (and occasionally notorious) groups. He also reflects on how letting his little record label grow beyond his bedroom into a multi-million dollar company sowed the seeds of its downfall. “It was far beyond the wildest dreams of the young assembly line steel mill worker that I started out as...”
The East Bay’s KKK started by burning crosses in the hills, and they quickly captured power in City Hall. This movement didn’t last long—their rise and fall all happened around the time of the 1920s. But they did make an impact that changed Oakland forever. The kind of impact that Trump could have on America. This episode features an interview with Professor Chris Rhomberg, author of “No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland” [Also available on iTunes and Stitcher]
“Black Ahab’s” adventures made him an Oakland hero and one of the most powerful men of color in California—but there’s a dark side to his story that’s rarely discussed. This episode weaves together histories of slavery, whaling and a flood of African American seamen into 19th century Bay Area to explore William Shorey’s rise to the top of a bloody, brutal industry. [Also available on iTunes & Stitcher]
When Brock Winstead bought a house in the Golden Gate district, he decided to research the history of his property and find out the identity of every single person who had ever owned that plot of land. What he discovered reveals much about the patterns of land use and displacement that continue to shape Oakland today. From colonization to redlining to rebranding, this episode explores the powerful forces that have shaped the East Bay’s development. [Subscribe to this program on iTunes or Stitcher]
From 1973 until 1982, the Black Panthers operated a school in East Oakland that has been called “arguably the Party’s most important organizing legacy.” Although the school solved many problems that continue to plague America’s education system, these lessons have been largely forgotten. Today’s episode explores the history of the Oakland Community School with a former student, a former teacher, and the school’s former director, Ericka Huggins. [Subscribe to East Bay Yesterday though iTunes or Stitcher]
Bobby Mardis had one hit song in the 1980s and then hung up his leather pants and retired his dreams of pop music stardom. Thirty years later he was re-discovered, thanks to a random encounter at the Oakland museum. The surreal night of partying that followed shows what can happen when you get to re-live the glory days of your youth—for a single, sweaty night. [Please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher]