At the Freedom Archives I experienced history from another viewpoint.
I learned about the Black Panthers and how they were persecuted by government officials even after the civil right movement occurred.
Some of what I worked on included watching videos and listening to audio tapes in order to catalog them and enter them into the Archive database.
I watched the movie Legacy of Torture which was made by the Freedom Archives and is about current repression against former Panthers. In the video they talk about how they were treated by police – about being tortured and beaten.
John Bowman, a former Black Panther said the following:
“The same people who tried to kill me in 1973 are the same people who are here today, trying to destroy me. I mean it literally. I mean there were people from the forces of the San Francisco Police Department who participated in harassment, torture and my interrogation in 1973… none of these people have ever been brought to trial. None of these people have ever been charged with anything. None of these people have ever been questioned about that.”
Besides seeing videos about social injustices I also did some research on political prisoners such as Ramsey Muniz, who was a Chicano activist falsely convicted of drug charges. In the 1960’s and 1970’s he led the Mexican community to obtain a political party that represents them. His political views were criticized by the U.S government and that is one of the reasons he was targeted and is a political prisoner today.
At the Freedom Archives I have had opportunities for studying history and social movements. This experience has made realize that I can do something to help build social movements and that I can participate and make a difference in my community.
Much of the history here at the Archives cannot be found anywhere else and especially not in textbooks.
The Freedom Archives is an educational, non-profit organization. They have been around for over ten years and they document the injustices that occur in this country and try to help end them. They have collected over 8,000 hours of audio and videos from the 1960s to the present. This includes media of community activists, oral history, rebellions, protests and culture.
My mentor, Claude Marks, is the director of the Freedom Archives. Claude has been against the disparities faced by many people since he was in High School. He then went to UC Berkeley. Some of what he does includes organizing events, raising funds for the Archives, supervising interns and volunteers, and cataloging new materials. He has been very supportive of me and is a great person to work with.
I hope this experience opens new doors for me. I really enjoyed doing my internship. This experience has made me realize that I may want to major in history and learn more about social movements. Learning the true history of our communities through original recordings and interviews was a great learning experience and it gives me a whole different perspective of history.
I believe learning from the past and preserving this amazing history will benefit us all, will help us learn from our mistakes and help us create a better future.
Javier Adame – Lighthouse Community Charter High School – Oakland, California