1911 - 1950

Immigrants' Rights: 1910-1940

Angel Island in San Francisco Bay serves as an immigration station for people arriving from east Asia, south Asia, and Russia. The government detains and interrogates thousands of Chinese newcomers to determine whether they are lawful immigrants.

Labor: 1911

Fresno city officials rescind the ban on street speaking and release all IWW prisoners.

Union leaders and brothers James and John McNamara shock their supporters by admitting to bombing the Los Angeles Times building. The confession results in a serious decline in union membership and the success of business leaders in keeping unions from gaining power in Los Angeles.

Women: 1911

SolomonsSolomonsWomen win the right to vote in California after a grueling campaign. California becomes the “Sixth Star,” or the sixth state to grant suffrage to women.

Voters pass an initiative enforcing the 8-hour work day and a minimum wage for women.

Labor: 1912

In response to IWW organizing, the San Diego city council passes an ordinance banning public speaking within 46 blocks of the city center. IWW issues a call for members go to San Diego. City leaders respond with vigilante violence and eviction of IWW members from San Diego county. Vigilantes violently assault anarchist leader Ben Reitman, prompting Governor Hiram Johnson to call for an investigation, which quells vigilante activity and restores free speech to the city.

Labor: 1913

Yuba County sheriff and deputies try to break up a rally of hop pickers led by IWW organizers Blackie Ford and Herman Suhr to protest the squalid, dangerous, and unfair conditions on the Ralph Durst ranch in Wheatland. A riot ensures and two workers, a district attorney, and sheriff’s deputy are killed. Ford and Suhr are convicted of second-degree murder. After a statewide campaign to free them, both are released from prison in 1926.

See a documentary excerpt about the Wheatland incident:

Immigrants' Rights: 1913

Legislature passes a law barring “aliens ineligible for citizenship” (i.e. Asians) from owning land and restricting leases to three years. The law applies almost exclusively to Japanese immigrants.

LGBT Rights: 1914

Police arrest Long Beach men who were allegedly members of two social clubs for gay men.

Labor: 1916

A bomb explodes at the corner of Market and Steuart Streets in downtown San Francisco during the “Preparedness Day Parade,” killing 10 people.

Labor: 1916 - 1917

Militant labor organizers Tom Mooney and Warren Billings are convicted of the “Preparedness Day Parade” bombing. Mooney is sentenced to death and Billings to life imprisonment.

Immigrants' Rights: 1917

U.S. government begins recruiting Mexican workers to fill a labor shortage because of World War I. After the war, farmers continue to recruit Mexican workers.
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