Social Justice Tour of the Bay Area

There’s guides for tourists interested in exploring new areas through local food/eateries, museums, entertainment — but what about the unique history of social activism in an area? Where are the travel guides for anti-racists/feminists/socialists/activists?

This list was born out of the desire to stumble upon a guide to help me experience the Bay Area through the lens of social justice activism and history. This is an on-going, frequently revised guide as I try to navigate Oakland, SF, and Berkeley this summer, and come up with new exciting things to do in the area.


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Angel Island U.S. Immigration Station (Year-round, $)
Opened in 1910, Angel Island is the West Coast version of Ellis Island — an immigration and detention center for new immigrants. Huge numbers of Asian immigrants came through this island as Japanese picture brides, Chinese laborers, and paper sons of unknown men. The immigration officers’ idea of racial and gender norms heavily influenced the population of those who were allowed to step foot into America.

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New Era, New Politics Tour, Oakland (Year-round, Free)
The website reads: “Stroll through downtown and discover the places where Oakland African American leaders have made their marks. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley, Robert Maynard, the Dellums family, Josephine Baker, and others changed the Bay Area and California.” The tours are held once a month.


Guerilla Cafe, Berkeley (Year-round, $)
Guerilla Cafe is a popular breakfast place in Berkeley, serving local and organic food — but also has a very radical tinge of Berkeley. The walls are covered with art of Angela Davis and Che Guevara,the table numbers come in the form of historical leaders such as Malcolm X or Arundhati Roy, and the cafe also sells clothing as a tribute to various influential activists.


SF Pride (June 29-30, Free)
SF Pride, along with other Pride marches across the nation, is a celebration of LGBTQ community’s culture. With over 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors, and more than 20 stages and venues, the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade is the largest LGBT gathering in the nation.

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Revolution Books, Berkeley (Year-round, $)
Revolution Books is alive with a defiant spirit that refuses to accept that the horrors of today’s world have to be. People come to the store from all over to find the people and deep engagement about the possibility of a radically different way the world could be. Revolution Books has a collection of books on history and political theory, novels and poetry, atheism and science, world geopolitics and philosophy, as well as literature and books in Spanish. Check out the weekly discussions, author readings and film screenings.

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Femina Potens Art Gallery, SF
Femina Potens seeks to “empowerment for the artist, the viewer, and the community by creating a safe space where gender, identity and sex is naturally fluid and changing.” The gallery hold various workshops and exhibitions specifically designed to encourage discussion about gender and sexuality. But I am unsure as to whether they are still open.

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International Museum of Women, Online (Year-round, Free)
IMOW is an online museum — a so-called “museum without walls” — that features photographs and images of women from all over the world — including those that are often marginalized and unheard. Their headquarters are in San Francisco and occasionally hold in-person public lectures or physical exhibits.

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Nihonmachi Street  Fair, Japantown (August 3-4, $)
Japantown hosts the annual Nihomachi Street Fair, featuring Asian American artisans and food tables. There are taiko drum performances and food trucks lining the streets — a celebration of not only the Japanese American but also the API community more broadly.

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GLBT History Museum, SF (Year-round, $)
The GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States and seeks to celebrate the past 100 years of queer history in San Francisco. They also have various links to online GLBT exhibitions.

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EXIT Theater (Year-round, $)
The mission of EXIT Theatre is to develop theater artists by providing opportunities to perform. Our focus is on providing open access opportunities for all theater artists so they can develop and experiment. We do this by commissioning, developing and producing new plays; providing production support and low cost theater rentals to small companies; hosting theaters and playwrights-in-residence; and by producing the San Francisco Fringe Festival, the largest grass roots theater festival in the Bay Area.

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Green Festival (Nov. 9-10, $)
The Green Festival features a wide variety of interactive activities along with tables full of environmentally conscious consumer products. Along with classic program favorites – Green Business, Fair Trade, Community Action and more – Green Festival introduces brand new, hands-on stages, including: DIY, Good Food, Live Art Demonstration and Eco-Fashion Showcase.

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Lady Fest Bay Area, SF (Sept 14-16, $)
Lady Fest is a feminist festival, featuring everything from DIY sex toy workshops and feminist porn to rrriot film screenings. The workshops are led by various volunteer members. As a female friendly space, the festival also provides childcare services.

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Global Exchange’s List of Social Justice Events (Year-round, Free)
Global Exchange is “an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world.” This website has the most comprehensive list of lectures, film screenings, and trainings held by  social justice organizations all over the Bay Area.

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