ACLU of Northern California
Gold Chains: The Hidden History of Slavery in California

Dear ACLU Supporter,

There is a story we tell ourselves about being American. Much of it is a lie. In 1776, when the United States, through the Declaration of Independence, declared: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" – "all men" didn't include African Americans and Native Americans. Laws were passed to legalize the enslavement of Black and Indigenous people, and our courts upheld them.

Did you know the first governor of California wanted to omit Black people from the state? Did you know California had laws that allowed Indian children to be forced into servitude?

Gold Chains: The Hidden History of Slavery in California is a project that uncovers chapters of California's hidden history that may surprise and even shock you. This unique project lifts up the voices of courageous African American and Native American individuals who challenged their brutal treatment and demanded their civil rights.

Gold Chains debunks California's unblemished brand as exclusively "liberal," "innovative," and "progressive," correcting it with facts of a history mired in racism, white supremacy, and violence.

It also reinforces the integrated advocacy that the ACLU of Northern California practices daily. Our efforts to take on critical issues and sometimes unpopular positions in order to advance civil rights and civil liberties exemplifies our commitment to equal justice for all.

The stories on the website are told through narratives, public records, archival material, and images. We hope you will share it ( broadly and help spread the word about this project.

In solidarity,

Candice Francis

Candice Francis
Communications Director, ACLU of Northern California