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Date: April 17, 2017 | 12-1:15 p.m. | 267 Bancroft Library

New Oral History Research Series: ‘Attitudes Evolve’: Narrative as a Strategy for Social Change in the Freedom to Marry Movement

Martin Meeker, Oral History Center

As a first-time presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama publicly expressed his opposition to full marriage rights for same-sex couples. In October 2010, then-President Obama equivocated, admitting, “attitudes evolve, including mine.” And in May 2012, in the ramp-up to his reelection bid, he declared, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” It turns out that this was a very deliberate political strategy employed by pro-marriage activists and operatives and then adopted by the President. The idea was to establish a model by which people who had previously opposed marriage for same-sex couples could themselves “evolve” on the issue and ultimately arrive at a place where they could support civil unions, at the very least, and, then, marriage. This strategy was used particularly effectively in places like New Hampshire, which required support from Republican elected officials to push back an effort to overturn marriage legislatively. This presentation is based on the interviews conducted as part of the Freedom to Marry Oral History Project at Berkeley's Oral History Center. The project produced about 100 hours of interviews with leading strategists, political operatives, and field organizers who advocated for marriage. Interviews have clearly demonstrated the role – indeed power – of narrative in driving social change, at least on this issue. The idea here is that effective social change (particularly vis-à-vis a profound transformation in public opinion) was made in part by allowing people to make a “journey” of opinion; activists, rather than haranguing opponents and calling them “homophobic,” would acknowledge that differences of opinion existed but then provided models (from the President on down) of people who themselves changed their minds. Activists and political operatives listened very closely to the broader public and then, rather gently, offering a way forward on an issue.

Date: April 25, 2017 | 11 a.m.-12 p.m. | Valley Life Sciences Building, 1101 (UCMP Fishbowl)

Date: August 7 – 11, 2017 | Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, Tilden Room


Prior Events

Book cover for To Place Our Deeds by Shirley Ann Wilson MooreDate: March 20, 2017 | 12-1:15 p.m. | 267 Bancroft Library

Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, Professor Emerita of History, California State University, Sacramento

Professor Shirley Moore, an alumna of UC Berkeley, is the author of numerous works on African American history in the West, including "To Place Our Deeds: The African American Community in Richmond, California 1910-1963," and most recently "Sweet Freedom's Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails 1841-1869. In the lunch lecture series, "New Research in Oral History," Dr. Moore will discuss her use of oral history in these two books, as well as its overall importance in documenting the African American experiences in California and the West.



photo of book cover for Quixote's Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement , 1966-1981 by David Montejano

Date: Monday November 14, 2016

New Oral History Research Series: "Making Sense of My World Through Oral History" by David Montejano

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library throughout the academic year hosts occasional presentations of the most current and interesting oral history-based research being conducted today. In this second "brown-bag" presentation of the year, Berkeley Ethnic Studies Professor David Montejano will be speaking about his decades-spanning work as a historian and sociologist and the role oral history has played in his work. Dr. Montejano's major areas of interest include Comparative and Historical Sociology, Political Sociology, Social Change, Race and Ethnic Relations, and Community Studies. A native of San Antonio, he received a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and two Masters and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Dr. Montejano is the author of the prizewinning historical overview, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 (Austin: Univ of Texas Press, 1987; 7th Printing, 1999). The book also has been translated and published in Mexico (Mexico City: Editorial Alianza, 1991). He has authored numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, and edited Chicano Politics and Society in the Late Twentieth Century (Austin: Univ of Texas Press, 1999). His most recent publication is Quixote's Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1981 (Univ of Texas Press, 2010).



Date: Monday October 3, 2016Image of cover of Steve Estes book Charleston in Black and White: Race and Power in the South since the Civil Rights Movement" (University of North Carolina Press, 2015)

New Oral History Research Series: "Too Proud to Whitewash: Race and Power in Charleston and the South"

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library throughout the academic year hosts occasional presentations of the most current and interesting oral history-based research being conducted today. In this first "brown-bag" presentation of the year, Sonoma State historian Steve Estes will discuss his recently published book, "Charleston in Black and White: Race and Power in the South since the Civil Rights Movement" (University of North Carolina Press, 2015) and the key role oral histories play in it.

Monday August 15-19, 2016

2016 Advanced Oral History Summer Institute

We are offering our annual one-week advanced institute on the methodology, theory, and practice of oral history on the UC Berkeley campus in the newly-opened MLK Jr. Student Center August 15-19, 2016. The institute is designed for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, university faculty, independent scholars, and museum and community-based historians who are engaged in oral history work. The goal of the institute is to strengthen the ability of its participants to conduct research-focused interviews and to consider special characteristics of interviews as historical evidence in a rigorous academic environment. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Thinking Drinking: Oral Narratives on American Alcohol Culture

Panel presentation

Date: Friday, October 16, 2015
Time: 3:30 – 5:00 pm
Location: Oral History Association Annual Meeting, Tampa, Florida, Marriott Waterside, 3, Meeting Room 4

Additional details: Shanna Farrell and Martin Meeker of the OHC along with Doug Boyd of the University of Kentucky present on recent oral history work in the history wine and spirits and the culture surrounding those products.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Three Generations of St. George Spirits: A Conversation with Jorg Ruph, Lance Winters, and Dave Smith

Live interview / fundraiser

Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Time: Cocktail party begins at 6:30, conversation begins at 7:15
Location: The Interval at Long Now, 2 Marina Blvd, Building A, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA

Additional details:  This event is a fundraiser for our West Coast Cocktails: An Oral History project. Please join us for a conversation with three generations of distillers from St. George Spirits, Jörg Rupf, Lance Winters, and Dave Smith in conversation with the Oral History Center's cocktail historian, Shanna Farrell. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to supporting the cocktail project and help fund more interviews. Tickets for sale here and include 3 drinks, all made with spirits from St. George, appetizers, and a keepsake cocktail menu.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Oral History Class of 2015

Every year the Oral History Center celebrates our interviewees from the past year with our own "commencement" event.

OHC's 2015 annual celebration of completed oral history projects 

Photo: Event program from OHC's 2015 annual celebration of completed oral history projects