Labor and Civil Rights History Archives in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights Projects has an amazing set of historical records, photographs, and newspapers tracing labor and civil rights movements along the West Coast, with focuses on Seattle and San Francisco.

Featuring multitude of resources including Labor History Encyclopedia, Communism in Washington State, and Civil Rights Movements in Seattle, there’s a ton of interesting material contained in these fascinating sites. Of particular interest is the photo archive.

The Day After the Earth Stood Still

Tuesday saw Obama shirts, buttons, hats, sweatshirts, signs, and magnets take over. Nary a Republican supporter was to be found. I suspect they were in hiding as usual around this school. But the mood was very pensive. I think we realized that the election would be over soon, yet we were (or I was, at least), running over possible scenarios: Would Obama and Rossi win? What if McCain grabs Ohio and Pennsylvania? Florida? Palin as vice president? Maybe Drudge was right after all?

Students and teachers were testy, cranky, and generally pessimistic. We’re elitist Seattleites who distrust any state that isn’t touching an ocean, and generally consider our red-state cousins as Republican peons. We’ve seen elections in our grasp before… only to have it wretched away by some suspect voter registration issues in a swing state or a politically-charged and unusual supreme court decision.

As classes got out, we filed to different parties, turned on MSNBC, and waited. With disbelief in our eyes we saw Pennsylvania go for Obama, and then Ohio, and Virginia, and Nevada. Then we added up the electoral votes, and saw that California+Washington would push past the mythical 270 which had eluded us for the previous two elections. Stunned at what was happening–even thought deep down we knew it would happen–the networks called the election for a democrat, and then McCain gave his concession speech. The rest of the night was a blur of jubilation, partying and eating. My phone lit up with calls and texts from friends who were trying to confirm they weren’t dreaming.

After everyone left and Eddy had gone to bed, I sat in my living room with the projector still on MSNBC looking at results on my laptop. Outside students, parents, and homeless were singing happy songs while wandering the streets drunk and happy. I didn’t want to go to bed–I wanted to let it sink in.

Today the mood on campus was different. No more Obama shirts were seen, but almost everyone had a little bounce in their step, they were looking up instead of down, and people were smiling again. I think they’re in disbelief–and that’s because I’m sure it still hasn’t hit yet.

Savour this moment.

No, they weren't wrong. Matt Drudge.
No, they weren't wrong. Matt Drudge.

Make Democracy Happen in Your Own Living Room

Greetings troll drops readers! I just wanted to share with you some thoughts I had yesterday while in my living room. I pulled my ballot out of the mail and sat down to caste my first ever vote for president of the United States. I also voted for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, house representatives, superior court justices in the state of Washington, and several other important government positions. That is when it happened. That is when I realized what I had just done I made democracy happen.

If you have ever taken a US history course, or just about any political science course, you know that the professor, the text, and even your fellow students try to convince you that democracy is this big figment of the imagination we Americans have. THEY ARE WRONG. By casting and mailing in my ballot I have just exercised my constitutional right as an American citizen and performed my civic duty. I have just contributed to the American way of life with one simple sweep of the pen. No matter your politics, no matter your age, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, you can make democracy happen by performing the same simple act I did that holds so much weight for the future of our nation. Vote. Make democracy happen in the comfort of your own living room.

Voting: It’s What’s for Dinner

We see tracking polls by the bushel—all varying in accuracy and results. Yet a common theme among them is that the pollsters must make a decision about who is likely to vote. Will more youth vote this time? What about seniors? Independents? The sad thing is that nobody is entirely sure who will vote come election time.

I’ve never understood this. Why people would choose not to vote.

Excuses in the past have always included from ”My vote doesn’t matter” to “I didn’t have time to go to the poll station.” But our last gubernatorial race was decided by 129 votes statewide, and your ballot was mailed to you and is probably sitting on your kitchen counter unopened and ignored. I don’t care who you vote for, but open your ballot, sit down with your voters guide, and start serving as a citizen instead of a disinterested bystander.

Maybe you don’t know who to pick for that judicial or PUD race. That’s okay. Because I bet you know who you might want to pick for President, Governor, or Representative. Even if your candidate doesn’t win, your vote was not wasted. You were part of the political process, and your voice was still heard. Take ownership in your country.

And congratulations, you now have a right to say, “Well, I didn’t vote for them.”

You Gonna Vote, Brother?

There’s a church about a block down from my apartment in Seattle that I pass on the way to class every day. Usually in the afternoon there will be a pair of african-american older males sitting right outside passing the time. They aren’t panhandling or anything… I suspect they live there and just are taking the world in.

Last week I was walking by when one turned at me and we had this converstation.

“Hey Brother, you going to vote?”

“You know it”

“Good man”

Not sure why this stuck with me, but it did.