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tv   NBC Bay Area News  NBC  June 20, 2015 4:30pm-5:01pm PDT

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peter coyote: in 1960, there were 3 and a half million people in the bay area. the south bay was farms and budding suburbs. the east bay was shipping and manufacturing. san francisco was a financial center with a fishing fleet, a bohemian bent, and a booming tourist industry. to many, it was paradise with better weather. and as the '60s dawned, there was no reason to believe it would ever be any different. [music] peter: the '60s broke upon the bay area like nowhere else on earth. a sudden rush of radical ideas protest, and social change so powerful it shifted the world on its axis. all eyes turned to the carnival that was california. but when the '60s ended, a strange thing happened
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in the bay area. the carnival stayed. what began with free speech and flower power rolled on to gay liberation, black power, drug culture, aids, assassinations, cults, critical mass occupy and same sex marriage. and in every case, the people of the bay area found ways to adapt, innovate, and move forward. during the summer of love, a doctor with $100 created the first working model for affordable health care with a little help from the hells angels. in san jose, two frustrated men resting on a park bench imagined a new a way to fight discrimination and changed sports and civil rights forever. in san francisco, health workers volunteer to confront a mysterious disease that seemed to kill every person it touched. and in so doing, they revolutionized the way
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hospitals care for people with aids. and two words overheard by a man waiting in line inspired one of the most powerful and peaceful civil rights actions in us history. [music] [music] male: open the door, here comes the goon squad. this is americanism. peter: for the bay area, the '60s started with a witch hunt. on may 13, 1960, the house un-american activities committee
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opened hearings in san francisco. the congressmen were hunting for communists. a quarter of the subpoenas went to teachers. professors at bay area universities fought against the hearings. emboldened by their teachers and inspired by the burgeoning civil rights movements, college students converged on city hall. the hearings never got off the ground. bettina aptheker: the students at berkeley had essentially shut down the house un-american activities committee. they washed the students down the steps with the fire hoses. terence hallinan: my father was there when they turned the hoses on the kids, and he went over and turned the hose off. peter: it was the last time huac held hearings outside washington dc. energized by the victory over huac, student groups looked for a new target. they found it in segregation.
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terence: segregation was everywhere when you went and dragged it out. and then once you dragged it out it didn't have strong legs to stand on. peter: they started with pickets and sit-ins at mel's drive-in, a popular restaurant that hired black employees, but didn't allow them to work up front where customers could see them. bettina: dobbs, who owned that drive-in, was running for mayor in san francisco against a democratic candidate, and he was intransigent in terms of the hiring practices at mel's drive-in until way too late, and he lost the election. peter: next, san francisco's famed sheraton palace hotel, with its iconic stained glass dome. like mel's, the palace hotel was slow to hire and promote african-american workers. this time, police stepped in and made arrests, and a young attorney with political aspirations got his first
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shot in the spotlight. bettina: and the police ordered us to disperse, so we didn't disperse, and of course we sat down in the fashion of the civil rights movement, and we were arrested. and our attorney was a very young willie brown, who was just starting his career, and he came and actually got us exonerated. terence: one time, when we were in jail and somebody had scrawled across the wall in the jail cell, "today the sheraton palace, tomorrow the world." and that's kind of how we felt, you know? bettina: we were actually affecting elections, and could. and that these mass protests could result in really helping people get jobs. peter: for protesters, the formula was now set: witness injustice, apply pressure, survive setbacks
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force change. and it was working. bettina: all of that is, of course, a prelude to what became the free speech movement the following fall. peter: by the summer of 1964, protest was an unofficial major at uc berkeley. student activists spent the summer fighting segregation in the deep south. that fall, they came back with an even better understanding of how to organize and protest. it was then, in a monumental case of bad timing, that the university decided to crackdown on free speech, specifically political groups that passed out information and raised money near sproul plaza at the border of the campus and the city of berkeley. when berkeley police arrested a man who was handing out information on civil rights, the students turned the campus itself into the protest capital of america, though that's not
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what they had in mind. bettina: when we took over the police car, that was very spontaneous. we had moved our tables onto the center of sproul hall and jack weinberg was arrested. and someone yelled, "sit down," and we all sat down around the police car and that was--it was very spontaneous. that was not planned. we had no way of knowing they were going to bring a police car onto the center of campus. peter: they sat for 32 hours. the police car, with jack weinberg still inside, sat there too. someone brought a microphone. students, including protest leader mario savio, made speeches from atop the police car, careful to remove their shoes so they wouldn't damage city property. bettina: we were '50s children. we grew up in the '50s. look how we're dressed. look at the pictures of us. mario's always in a suit and tie when we're protesting, you know. and i'm in a dress or a skirt.
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you know, if you look at the attire, you can see how conservative. and it was a conservative movement in the sense that it was trying to conserve the first amendment. so it was not--it had radical actions, the militancy of the sit-in and so forth and the passion of mario's speeches, you know, that sort of thing. but the actual content of what we were fighting for was very conservative. peter: jack weinberg spent a day and a half in the back of a squad car. he drank sparingly. he ate even less. police and protesters struck a deal. weinberg was released without charges. but the fight was not over. the protests against the university ban on political speech intensified and so did the passion of the rhetoric. mario savio: and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers. terence: it was this great university
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that just rose up and kind of organized on its own and became a spokesman for the whole country. willie brown: there was a core of young folk who really wanted to make democracy work in america. peter: bettina grew up the child of communist parents and was a communist herself. still, she was eager to lead the fight for free speech. bettina: you don't protest that which you don't care about. it generates a passion. peter: one year after the first free speech protests started, the university and protesters reached an agreement which ended the demonstrations. protesters in the bay area had a 5-year winning streak. every confrontation, the hoses at city hall, the arrests at the palace hotel, the stand-off in berkeley all ended with the establishment changing its practices. watching it all, nearly 25 million teenagers.
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it was now 1965. the first baby boomers were now just old enough to leave home.
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♪ ♪ ♪ it took tim morehouse years to master the perfect lunge. but only one attempt to master depositing checks at chase atms. technology designed for you. so you can easily master the way you bank.
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nd a lot of time online around here. but with all this speed from xfinity, it's all good. hey, why don't we do some homework for a change? gary, you too. stuff. yes! lovin' the new design! konichiwa hirosan. five minutes... all this speed is very empowering. check out the new hardware. with the fastest internet available, xfinity is perfect for people who need to get a lot done at home. and now you can go even faster. we've just increased the speeds on two of our most popular plans. david talbot: terry hallinan had a very adventurous youth. at one point, he was dating the same woman that janis joplin
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from big brother and the holding company was dating. she was a little jealous and she was using heroin at the time. and terry tells the story himself, that she fixed him with an overdose one night. he passed out, nearly died fortunately lived, and went on to become the district attorney of san francisco. terence: whew. oh, the summer of '67 was so great. peter: as the protest movement took hold on bay area campuses, an equally powerful scene was starting to bloom off campus. david talbot: the magic here was very strong here in the 1960s, the music, the drugs, the sexual freedom. very, very powerful forces were being set loose in those days. harry edwards: an alien could land in sproul plaza and it would probably be a couple of semesters before anybody noticed that there's something a little bit different about him.
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peter: young people from across the country saw bay area students fighting the establishment and heard rumors of a growing counter culture. anxious to escape the familiar path of school, job, family, retirement, and death, they packed their bags and headed for northern california. the best place to land was a small san francisco neighborhood with victorian homes cheap rents, and good weather haight-ashbury. david: we started organic food co-ops. we started free music in the park. we started free medical care with the haight-ashbury free clinic. we just created the alternative world that we wanted to live in. peter: that alternative world was fueled in part by the emergence of psychedelic drugs. author ken kesey and friends introduced people to the mind-expanding potential of lsd and threw legendary parties
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in the hills above stanford. soon, experimentation became common, and passing the electric kool-aid acid test became the hip thing to do. david: you talk about this counterculture explosion as if it's all over the place. well, it was this explosion of ideas that was coming out of this area. peter: when the hippies arrived, the drug culture was waiting. dr. smith: so i was the local drug expert when the drug revolution hit. the pivotal event is i took lsd myself. i had a--i don't want to romanticize it, but i had an overwhelming spiritual experience, opened a free clinic, practiced 24/7 without malpractice insurance, just total change. david: dr. dave, as he was known, was one of these
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great san francisco heroes. and he had a very bright professional career ahead of him. and he was warned, "look, if you get too involved with these kids in the haight," where he was living, "you know, you could damage your career. you don't want to go there." dr. smith: what i thought would happen was that we would have a hippie clinic. i think that's the first thing we said. the original clinic was david e smith md and associates doing business as the haight ashbury free clinic. and the associates were 100, you know, very strange people. david: and on the first day they opened the doors, there was a line around the block of people who needed medical attention. they ran out of bandages they ran out of medicine. dr. smith: the original principles of our free clinic were health care is a right, not a privilege. you know, that was the era of slogans. free at the point of delivery of care. and free was not just an economic term, it was more of a
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philosophical term free from prejudice. david: janis joplin, jerry garcia, the grateful dead, the jefferson airplane, they were all going to the clinic for their own needs. janis joplin would over-dose and dr. dave would be called in the middle of the night, he'd run out and save her, save her life literally, he did more than once. peter: it would be an unusual alliance from inside the neighborhood that would save dr. dave's life after he got a death threat from a drug dealer. dr. smith: there was a period of time in which our security force was the hells angels. this is what happened. they gave me the number, i called them up. "my name is dr. david smith. i'm medical director of the haight-ashbury free clinic." that's all that was needed. that was the introduction. then i explained the situation. he said, "we will take care of it." it was a weird world but that's the world."
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peter: over the next 40 years, smith would continue his work. the world would change how it saw him from outsider to insider. dr. smith: i got a call. it was from, like, a producer like you. and he said, "we heard you and the haight-ashbury free clinic were the architect of healthcare is a right not a privilege, and we thought it was a clinton speechwriter in the '90s. and i said "no, it wasn't some clinton speechwriter that got paid a million dollars a year. it was a free clinic that was funded by a grateful dead benefit that came up with that concept." harry edwards: i remember those days when they considered him to be a hippie crank. now of course, we've institutionalized a lot of what he was doing. we call it obamacare. peter: while the summer of love had the attention of the city and most of the bay area, a revolt with worldwide reach was
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just getting underway in the south bay.
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peter: in 1967, the american military was fully
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involved in the vietnam war. and so were american protestors. in the fall, 100,000 people marched on washington d.c. at berkeley, the tradition of protest continued with students staging massive anti-war demonstrations. the civil rights movement continued, achieving towering accomplishments and changing the national conversation on race. harry edwards: dr. king had received the nobel peace prize. lyndon johnson had signed both the civil rights bill and the voting rights bill. peter: but in neighborhoods in the bay area, problems of unemployment poverty, and police harassment were as entrenched as ever. two bay area men, huey newton and bobby seale, enrolled at
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merritt college in oakland, came up with a ten point plan as a solution. the black panther party was born. bettina: most of the program was about feeding the community, providing mobile clinics for healthcare, clothing for people, freedom schools, breakfast for children. peter: harry edwards was teaching sociology at san jose state when he decided to get involved with the panthers. harry: the core of their revolutionary ideology was that the black community and the black people in that community have a right not just to exist and to survive, but to develop and to prosper as a community. peter: their efforts in the community were subverted by their use of radical theatre. harry: the said we have a right to guns under california
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state constitution and the second amendment of the united states constitution. so they went to sacramento to press that. peter: that indelible image of panthers openly carrying weapons up the steps of the state capitol turned public opinion against them. harry: you talk about making--turning allies into adversaries, when you walk up into the assembly chamber of the california state government with guns, you're going to make a few adversaries. harry: where this generation of young black people in particular are not going to accept this crock of garbage that the older generation of blacks and negroes--of whites and negroes seem determined to pass onto us. peter: disenchanted with the panthers' tactics, edwards turned his focus to segregation at san jose state. harry: we couldn't join the fraternities. they had literal, up front no negroes and jews need apply. if you wanted to major in drama, you could forget it. why?
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because if you majored in drama, you had an obligation to participate in the school theatre productions, and the last thing they wanted was to have some black guy sitting there, holding some white coed's hand in some play. peter: edwards and fellow graduate student ken noel met with the university hierarchy, hoping to start a dialogue about ending segregation on campus. they were laughed out of the office. harry: he literally broke out laughing and said, "hey, that's not going to happen. it's not going to happen." peter: frustrated, edwards and noel took a seat on a bench near the center of campus and improvised a strategy which had never been tried. harry: and said, "you know what? the only leverage we have on this campus is in the athletic department." and that's when we called for a boycott of the opening season game in fall of 1967 between san jose state and the university of texas at el paso.
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it was the first time in the history of the ncaa division i sports that a game, a football game had been cancelled as a consequence of racial turmoil on a campus. peter: inspired by his success on campus, edwards set his sights on a larger audience. he launched the olympic project for human rights. its goal was to bring athletes into the fight to end segregation and racism. harry: i had dared to say that it really doesn't make a lot of sense, it's not good for us, it's not good for this country for us to be running overseas and crawling at home just because they call it the olympic games. peter: two track stars john carlos and tommie smith influenced by edwards, took his theory and put it into practice. harry: a great deal of what they internalized and a great deal of their awakening politically, i mean,
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i have to take the rap for that. when carlos and smith got to the games and determined they were going to do something principally tommie it was a tremendous moment. peter: smith and carlos finished first and third in the 200 meters in the 1968 olympics in mexico city. the two men climbed the medal stand wearing black gloves. when the national anthem began they raised their fists in a black power salute, which lasted the length of the anthem. harry: for these two men to get to the podium and to make that demonstration in the face of all of that danger recrimination, and so forth, to me was one of the most
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courageous, committed acts not just in sports, but of the 20th century. peter: at that moment, the movement born on a bench at san jose state became worldwide news. a young columnist in chicago named brent musburger called out edwards and his proteges, calling smith and carlos black-skinned storm troopers. bay area basketball legend bill russell saw it differently. when reporters asked-- dr. harry edwards: "do you have a problem with edwards and smith and carlos and those demonstrations?" and russell sat there. he said, "yeah." he said, "i have a problem with them." "can you give us that? what?" he said, "yeah, i have a problem with them. i didn't think of it first." peter: the protest put the issue of black
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empowerment front and center. their salute, clear evidence that the assassinations of dr. king and robert kennedy earlier that year would not stop the movement. the bench may be gone, but in its place a permanent tribute to an idea. harry: forty-five years later, they built a statue to smith and carlos' demonstration at mexico city. the same spot. it's almost eerie. peter: by the fall of '68, the summer of love and the war in vietnam had shifted the ground under america's feet. darkness would creep over the bay area in the decade which followed. david: it was an awful time in the '70s. you just felt like the devil was here and that everything was going to fall apart. [music]
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