Studio for Southern CA History “screams from the margins” at the CSUF Library

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Inspired by the experiences of Harlen Lambert and Daniel Michael Lynem, Jr., two men who represented opposite ends of the political spectrum, “Shouting from the Margins: Black Orange County, 1960-1979” opened last month at the Salz -Pollak Atrium Gallery in the Pollak Library at Cal State Fullerton. Through March 27, the exhibit, produced by the Studio for Southern California History, features more than a dozen local African American community leaders who have made profound contributions to Orange County history, often facing obstacles and barriers in the process.

Orange County Black History: A new CSUF exhibit explores the experiences and contributions of African Americans to local history and culture. Pictured above at the exhibit are Zoe Pedford, Joe Zavala, Earl Pedford, Sharon Sekhon, Harlen Lambert, Daniel Michael Lynem and Andrea Lynem. Photo by Sharron Read-Lambert

“We wanted to see how people survive adversity so we can honor them and learn from them,” said Sharon Sekhon, co-creator of “Shouting from the Margins.” Sekhon is director of the nonprofit Studio for Southern California History and former CSUF Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies. “We looked at the different ways in which these people used traditional routes to power, such as being elected to public office, and less traditional means, such as forming a ‘Black is beautiful’ self-help group for young people. young girls, what Adleane Hunter did with Essence 7.”

Sekhon drew inspiration from historian CLR James and his colleagues who were part of the Black power movement. They studied how black men, women, and children created agency for themselves and their communities because these groups were denied access to opportunities in mainstream American society in the post-war era. , according to Sekhon.

Sharon Sekhon co-created the exhibit.

This exhibit grew out of Sekhon’s friendship with Harlen Lambert and Daniel Michael Lynem, Jr. According to Sekhon, both men were leaders in different political spheres in Orange County and gave profound service to their communities. Harlen Lambert was the first black officer hired in Santa Ana in late 1966, and Daniel Michael Lynem, Jr. was the former leader of the Santa Ana chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and is now pastor and mentor of young men in his church. Harlen and Daniel were natural enemies in the 1960s, but in 2019 they became friends. Sekhon followed how their two stories were put together and didn’t like the lack of attention they received.

“I wanted to be sure that both men understood how important their work was for contemporary generations. I thought about this political continuum of the 1960s that they shared and all the other people between their two points on that. Then I thought of all the other people who had different points of view. If these two amazing leaders weren’t getting their due in my opinion, what about all these other people? Sekhon said.

Harlen and Sharron Read-Lambert at the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Sharon Sekhon.

Harlen and Daniel were always available to share their experience with Sekhon and the public; they came to several of his honors classes and were very candid with the students about the difficulties they faced. “The two men were instant friends and treated me like I was valuable. They taught me history every time I spent time with them. More importantly, the arc of their relationship taught me the true nature of forgiveness… Their hearts and minds were open to understanding and compassion. This pattern of reconciliation is one we must try to emulate to heal our divided nation,” Sekhon said.

Based on these two men, “Shouting From the Margins” includes more than a dozen interviews and profiles of other equally amazing people who have contributed to Orange County history. The stars of the exhibition are Wyatt Frieson, Daniel Michael Lynem, Adleane Hunter, Brigman Owens, Walter Morris, Mustafa Khan, Janine Farquhar, Earl Pedford, Jerry Hunter, Jules Farquhar, Aidsand Wright-Riggins, Zoe Pedford, Jim DeBose, Kathy Ayeh, Jim Hatchett, Charlene Riggins, Harlen Lambert and Maurice Howard. The exhibit includes a well-researched timeline of Orange County history with a focus on 1960 to 1979, and CSUF. The research process of Sekhon and his co-creators was influenced by the French Annales School, which uses an immersive approach to study a subject from as many angles as possible. They gathered information and carried out research on the subject of Sekhon using all the databases to which they had access.

“Shouting From the Margins” includes more than a dozen interviews and profiles of incredible individuals who have made history in Orange County. Photo by Emerson Little.

“As our research has shown, Orange County didn’t even track people of color in government until the 1960s, so we had to approach that history using different tools,” Ariella said. Horwitz, co-creator of “Shouting from the Margins.” and Lecturer in American Studies at CSUF. “For this project, we were asking our interviewees for references and we started doing newspaper scans from the time. We reviewed existing published sources on this topic and found some amazing information on CSUF’s school newspaper, The Daily Titan. During our research, we highlighted the materials that should be included in the exhibition.

Historians study change in time and space; as a result, the co-creators of this exhibit put all their data into tables that could be searched and sorted chronologically. This made it possible to show changes over time and to track changes in language and policy. Whenever they found anecdotes from an interview or stories in the newspapers that were outrageous or unbelievable, they made a note that they should be included in the final exhibit. Sharon Sekhon asked her collaborators to compile their best lists and used them to mount the exhibition. “There are so many elements that we didn’t include in the exhibition; it was a real challenge to edit them,” Horwitz said. “Although our exhibit could not discuss how World War II or Mendez vs. Westminster (1947) directly affected Orange County due to physical space, we wanted to be sure that scholars interested in learning more might find avenues of inquiry in our initial research.”

The exhibit includes a well-researched timeline of Orange County history with a focus on 1960 to 1979. Photo by Emerson Little.

Joe Zavala, another “Shouting From the Margins” co-creator, who just graduated with a BA in History from CSUF in 2020, helped Sekhon with his interviews. He said, “They were people in such a tight-knit community back then, not just Orange County, but CSUF as a whole… I’ve lived in Orange County all my life and I had no idea of ​​those stories surrounding this.” He said all of his research team’s work was source-driven. For the exhibit, they used period imagery when possible.

Sekhon said she and her co-creators chose to include oranges and an orange grove in their exhibit timeline as visual metaphors, representing not only the name of the county, but also the loss of manpower. Bracero’s work in 1963. It was a precursor to many of the issues facing black and brown Americans in Orange County. Sekhon said, “There was no longer a pool of cheap labor that employers could draw from. After 1963, OC’s agrarian footprint was greatly reduced, and labor issues are closely tied to discrimination issues. This is happening all over Southern California and although many consider the post-war economy part of the prosperity of the 1950s, there is no doubt that much of this wealth came from the hand -cheap labor from Bracero.

“Children of Humility” (2012) by artist Maurice Howard.

While this was a difficult exhibit to mount during COVID-19, it was also incredibly rewarding for the researchers. “I learned that complacency is a problem in history and there are assumptions that this history has already been documented and relayed. It has not. I learned that it is difficult to answer some common sense questions about where we live because we are not trained to ask those questions,” Sekhon said. “I saw the signs of history but I didn’t have the tools to find the answers to my questions, let alone verbalize my questions. Asking common sense questions about where we live is how we express a critical love of place.

“Screaming from the Margins: Black Orange County, 1960 – 1979” is co-written by Sharon Sekhon, Ariella Horwitz, Joe Zavala, Victoria Koos, Edith Verduzco, Tiffany Bowman and Brenda Valencia. The co-authors especially thank Trish Campbell for her assistance. This exhibit is based on research archived at https://www.lahistoryarchive.org/resources/SHOUTING/index.html. The Studio for Southern California History, which curated the exhibit, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to critically chronicling and sharing the region’s social history to foster a sense of place. “The exposure is only a fraction of the information we gathered,” Joe Zavala said. “There are so many facts, events and people that still need to be discovered and discussed. We really encourage people to check out our website and also check out the other stories related to this topic.

On Friday, February 25, Wyatt Frieson will be honored with the CSUF Honors Program Distinguished Leadership Award, with a light reception after the ceremony at the Honors Program Center. The event will take place at 5 p.m. in the Salz-Pollak Atrium of the CSUF Library.

Photo from the exhibition “Shouting from the Margins” by Emerson Little.

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