Home » News » Library series examines historical and contemporary issues of injustice and intolerance in local communities

Library series examines historical and contemporary issues of injustice and intolerance in local communities

Sikh man
Newspaper illustration of Sikh man, 1906. Photo by Paul Englesberg.

The Bellingham Public Library is hosting a free lecture series in April exploring issues of injustice and intolerance in our Bellingham and Whatcom County communities.

The series – titled Intolerance & Injustice: Where We’ve Been, What We’ve Learned — is three presentations in April featuring speakers who will explore examples in our local history of intolerance and challenges to opportunity and justice, as well as contemporary events and issues.

April 2: Purge & Prejudice: The 1907 Bellingham Anti-Hindu Riot
Thursday, April 2, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. Central Library Lecture Room

University professor Dr. Paul Englesberg presents a multi-media exploration of the 1907 riot in Bellingham, which drove away from our community hundreds of Asian immigrant workers, most of whom were Sikhs from India. Includes analysis of the causes and consequences of the riot, illustrations from archival sources, showing of the 15-minute documentary “We’re Not Strangers”, and opportunity for discussion.


Dr. Paul Englesberg is professor of education at Walden University, specializing in adult and higher education and educational research. Previously he was on the education faculty at Western Washington University, where he initiated the Asian American Curriculum and Research Project.

Charles H. Fisher, Western Washington College of Education President
Charles H. Fisher, Western Washington College of Education President, 1938. Photo courtesy of Whatcom Museum

April 8: Free Speech, Free Love & Costly Politics: Bellingham’s Own Private Red Scare
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. Central Library Lecture Room

Reporter and university instructor Ron C. Judd describes the virulent political climate in 1930s Bellingham, which was well ahead of its time in “Red-Scare” politics that would sweep the nation during the Cold War. Battling factions of the day, led by The Bellingham Herald on the right, and fledgling KVOS Radio on the left, waged a decade-long media war that ultimately would put the city on the national map for political extremism — and claim the popular president of the local college, Charles H. Fisher.

Ron C. Judd is a Bellingham resident and longtime columnist and reporter for The Seattle Times. He is the author of numerous nonfiction books, including works of humor, outdoor guides and a history of the Winter Olympics. He is a journalism instructor at Western Washington University and a 2015 James W. Scott Research Fellow at WWU’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, 1965. Photo by Jack Carver, Whatcom Museum #1995.1.48504

April 15: Mid-Century Dream to Today’s Reality: All the Ways that Race Still Matters
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. Central Library Lecture Room


Western Washington University professor and author Dr. Vernon Damani Johnson will explore the ideas and expectations set forth at mid-century, when the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action and other initiatives were initially conceived, contrasted with recent events and challenges to equal opportunity and justice for all.

Dr. Vernon Damani Johnson has been a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Western Washington University since 1986. He was on the advisory committee to Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Presidential Campaign in 1988 and served on the Steering Committee of the Washington State Rainbow Coalition from 1988-92. When the militia movement swept into the region in the 1990s, Damani helped found the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and chaired its board from 1997-2000.

Each presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Bellingham Public Library at 360-778-7323 or www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org


Media Contacts

Janice Keller
Communications, Community Relations and Programming Manager
Bellingham Public Library