Stand up for Unity in Our Community
By Outword Magazine
June 13, 2019
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Northern California’s “Summer of Hate,” a series of hate crimes committed by a pair of far-right white supremacists in June and July of 1999.
In the early hours of June 18, the criminals ï¬rebombed three Sacramento synagogues, littering the grounds with anti-Semitic propaganda. Within days, thousands rallied to support Sacramento’s Jewish community. However, the assailants continued their crime spree, murdering gay couple Gary Matson and Winïfield Mowder in their Redding-area home and firerebombing a Sacramento women’s health clinic before their arrest on July 7.
The succession of tragic events shook residents across Northern California and made national headlines. In response, a coalition of local civic leaders announced plans to build a venue to teach acceptance of others and to bridge differences in beliefs, backgrounds, and gender identities.
The result was the Capital Unity Center, a non-profit that delivered education workshops and multimedia content for K-12 students as the Unity Lab. The organization and its projects came to a standstill, however, when funding to continue operations could not be raised following the 2008 recession.
In 2013, the California Museum’s Board of Trustees approached then-Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, an early supporter of the Capital Unity Center, with the prospect of turning the project into a long-term installation at the museum. With Steinberg’s support, the project came to the California Museum, where the Unity Center opened on Aug. 26, 2017 as the ﬁrst of its kind to inspire visitors to take a stand against hate, intolerance and bigotry as Unity Activists.
The Unity Center at California Museum highlights the state’s rich civil rights history and celebrates California’s diverse people, customs and cultures. Through a series of interactive multimedia exhibits and gallery-based education and advocacy tools, it encourages visitors to ﬁnd common ground while embracing their own individuality, and to exercise their rights and stand up for the rights of others.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the events of 1999, the California Museum will host “Stand Up for Unity in Our Community” on Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23. The event features free admission to the Unity Center and all current exhibits, plus complimentary screenings of short and documentary ﬁlms highlighting diversity, activism and community resilience, along with hands-on activism and social justice activities.
In addition to free admission and special activities offered for the event, visitors can take advantage of $3 ﬂat-rate parking in the 1500 10th Street garage on Saturday, June 22 and free on-street parking on Sunday, June 23. For more information or to plan a visit, visit CaliforniaMuseum.org.