Chocolate Cities, White Suburbs

What do Disneyland, LA Freeways and Film Noir have in common? According to historian Eric Avila, they all represent aspects of America’s racial divide.


Eric Avila is a professor of history at UCLA.  He examines the built environment for clues to American values, prejudice and racial discrimination. His work takes him from Coney Island to the Freeway boom of the 60’s and on to Disneyland.

Avila is in Seattle for a talk at UW titled, “Chocolate Cities and Vanilla Suburbs: Race, Space and American Culture After World War II January 27th at 6:30 at Kane Hall, room 120.

Eric Avila is author of Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles. His latest is The Folklore of the Freeway:Race and Revolt in the Modernist City 

At Length is supported by the UW Alumni Association.

The Legacy of Selma 50 Years Later

50 years ago, American citizens were being killed in the fight for the right to vote. During three marches in March of 1965, civil rights activists seeking the right to register in Alabama were met by tear gas and Billy clubs. Local police and State troopers beat the non-violent protestors on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.  The televised violence galvanized the nation and Congress. President Johnson pushed through the 1965 voting rights act, one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the countries history.


Today, the courts have removed pieces of that legislation and some states are restricting access to the ballot box.  The streets of the nation are filled with protestors challenging the police shootings of young black men.


Over the next few weeks, the University of Washington’s Chair of the Communication Department, David Domke, will examine the history and it’s importance today in a series of lectures, Marching to Selma: How MLK, LBJ & The Civil Rights Movement Changed The World.


We met to discuss the legacy of Selma at the NE Branch of the Seattle Public Library. (Hence the slightly hushed tones.) 


David Domke says his meetings with the still living foot soldiers of those marches have profoundly changed him. He has traveled to the south three times with groups from the northwest. In March, he is taking another group of adults and college students to follow the path from Atlanta, through Memphis and on to Selma.


I will be on that journey and sharing stories with you about the legacy of the civil rights era and the emergence of a new activism. 

The Picture That Emerges is Incredibly Creepy- Marc Rotenberg on Civil Liberties in the Information Age

Turns out on-call car service Uber compiles a lot of data about its customers. They can get a pretty good idea of what you are up to just by the way you use their service. Are you surprised?  How much privacy is there in the age of the internet? 

Marc Rotenberg is a lawyer specializing in privacy and civil rights. He is president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research group involved in privacy litigation and public policy. He also teaches about these issues at Georgetown University Law School in Washington D.C.

Rotenberg says he doesn't use the word fear when discussing civil liberties in the information age. It is disempowering, he feels. Rather, there are challenges to be met, problems to solve. Rotenberg sat down with Steve Scher in late November, 2014, to discuss those challenges. 

Dolores Huerta, Still Fighting For Human Rights

Dolores Huerta still fights for farmworker families.  Well into her 8th decade, she is training the next generation of leaders to carry the cause forward.  The former teacher and long time community organizer was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor awarded in the United States, by another community organizer, President Obama.  

Huerta and Cesar Chavez were co-founders of the United Farm Workers.  Dolores Huerta has pushed and prodded mayors, governors, senators, even presidents for new laws, but her focus remains on the grassroots.  She is re- energized each time she can get new street lights for a neighborhood, more people registered to vote, better representation on schools boards.  

Support for At Length is provided by the University of Washington Alumni Association.

Olympia Snowe is Seeking a Consensus Congress

Former Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe says procedural reforms restore respect for elected officials. She has written "Fighting For Common Ground: How We Can Fix The Stalemate In Congress." 

Support for At Length comes from The University of Washington Alumni Association.

Garth Stein

Garth Stein had a runaway hit with "The Art of Racing in the Rain." His new novel is a "A Sudden Light." It is a  character about a young boy, his father and a wooden house in the Northwest that is haunted by the spirits of the forest and the people who cut it down.