Those who fought bitter civil rights battles in the 1960s often complain that today's kids don't understand the struggles they went through. But in a way, teenagers who casually accept their ability to work, eat, and sit where they want are living out the ultimate activist's dream: The freedoms the youths experience seem so natural, they don't even question how it all came to be.
With this experiential gap in mind, two complementary Oakland exhibits spotlight both the history of the civil rights movement and its ongoing skirmishes. "The Long Walk to Freedom: 1900 - Now: Portraits of Civil Rights Activists" and "The Legacy Continues: Youth Activism Today" take a good, long look at activists from the East Coast and the Bay Area, highlighting their backgrounds and notable deeds in text and photographs. Sparked by a high school project sponsored by Oakland nonprofit Community Works, the shows also include information culled from students' interviews with their activist heroes, along with a comprehensive time line of civil rights events from the first labor riots of the 1900s to modern phenomena like the Million Man March.
Community Works celebrates the traveling exhibits' Oakland stop with a reception featuring appearances by all of the shows' California subjects, plus music from the Freedom Singers (including Bettie Mae Fikes) and reimagined folk music from America's slavery era performed by the 21st Century Negro Jazz Project. The party starts at 1 p.m. (and the exhibitions continue through Dec. 31) at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, 659 14th St. (at Landers), Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 637-0200.
-- Joyce Slaton
Joy Luck, Bub
Author Amy Tan, whose vivid stories are inspired by her own Bay Area childhood, saw her debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, spend eight months on the New York Times best-seller list. Now, those who can't get enough of Tan's talent for weaving evocative fiction seamlessly with autobiographical tales of new immigrants and first-generation Chinese-Americans can hear these anecdotes straight from the writer's mouth at "An Evening With Amy Tan." The scribe -- who just released her first work of nonfiction, the sublime collection of essays titled The Opposite of Fate -- shares thoughts and stories culled from the new book tonight at 8 at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $18; visit www.cityarts.net.
-- Jack Karp
Let's Not Forget
The Rosenbergs' son speaks up
No country can be proud of itself all the time. The U.S. execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953, considered by many to be a defining historical moment for the nation, raised a lot of questions. It also orphaned two sons.
Robert Meeropol is the youngest son of the couple put to death for "conspiracy to commit espionage." His book, An Execution in the Family: One Son's Journey, describes his search for the truth of his parents' case as well as his struggle to make personal sense of that frightening family history. Meeropol's current project, the Rosenberg Fund for Children, "provides for the educational and emotional needs of children of targeted progressive activists, and youth who are targeted activists themselves" (according to its Web site). Meeropol reads, answers questions, and signs books at 7 p.m. at the International Socialist Organization, 110 Capp (at 16th St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 336-5034.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Hipsters and Squares
LP art exhibit covers it all
Time was, one of the only ways to get information about musicians was to look at their album covers. Fans bought their favorite artists' records and spent time listening to the inside -- and scouring the outside for clues.In the 1950s and '60s, Reid Miles was art director for jazz label Blue Note, where he was responsible for some of the coolest album art ever: His offbeat mix of energetic photo work, crazy-man graphics, and hepcat typography won the record covers a ton of fans. At "Audiographic," 30 of Miles' covers will be on display, along with about 150 other LP covers by Bay Area designers. It's "the union of the perfect circle with the perfect square," organizers riff. Recorded and live jazz accompanies the AIGA S.F. fund-raiser, starting at 7 p.m. at the Old Federal Reserve Bank Building, 310 Battery (at Sacramento), S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 626-6008 or visit www.aigasf.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Need a Leg Up?
If you haven't heard of local music superpromoter Nadine Condon, chances are you're not a member of one of the scores of bands she's shepherded, from Jefferson Starship to Smashmouth to Third Eye Blind. But now that the scene veteran has penned a book that encapsulates her music-biz savvy, Hot Hits, Cheap Demos: The Real-World Guide to Music Business Success, anyone with the $12.50 cover price can absorb her sage advice. Condon commemorates her new tome at "Nadine's Wild BMI Showcase & Book Signing," with live music from Rich McCulley, Firecracker, and Beth Waters, starting at 8 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $6; call 861-5016 or visit www.nadinecondon.com.
-- Joyce Slaton