Expanding on the Miné Okubo Collection, history and the arts, and social justice in the Inland Empire…

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Classic “Philadelphia” Screening at Center on 12/3


Actors Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington on the set of the Tri Star movie ” Philadelphia” in 1993. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Liebert Cassidy Whitmore Film Series on “The Role of Law in American Society” continues at the Center on December 3rd with screenings of Philadelphia in honor of World AIDS DayScreenings are at 5:30pm and 7:45pm. Admission is free, but seating is limited.

Philadelphia (1993) was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the tragic consequences of homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by Jonathan Demme, and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Hanks won an Oscar for his moving performance.

Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a senior associate at the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia who also happens to be a gay man living with HIV/AIDS. When he is fired shortly after a partner in the firm notices a lesion on his forehead, Beckett fears he has been the victim of discrimination and decides to file a lawsuit against his former employer for wrongful termination. He turns to Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), the only lawyer in the City of Brotherly Love willing to take on the case, who must struggle to overcome his own fears and prejudices as he seeks justice for an ailing Beckett.

Philadelphia Trial

The Riverside Community College District would like to thank the law firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore for their generous sponsorship of this series.



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“Alcatraz Is Not an Island” Screens on Thursday November 5th


The Liebert Cassidy Whitmore Film Series on “The Role of Law in American Society” continues at the Center on November 5th with screenings of the film Alcatraz Is Not an Island in honor of Native American Heritage Month. Screenings are at 6pm and 7:45pm. Admission is free, but seating is limited.

On November 20, 1969, a fleet of wooden sailboats holding 89 Native Americans attempted to land on Alcatraz, the “rock” in San Francisco Bay that had housed the notorious maximum-security federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963. While most were prevented from entering the island by a Coast Guard blockade, fourteen people were initially able to land. For the next 19 months, this group, expanding at times to as many as 400 people, occupied Alcatraz, hoping to reclaim it “in the name of all American Indians.”

The protesters drew on the terms of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, signed between the United States and the Lakota in 1868. In that document, the U.S. government promised that all retired or abandoned federal land would be returned to the Native people from whom it had been obtained. Following the closure of the prison, Alcatraz had become surplus federal property in a prime location for staging a symbolic occupation that would draw attention to the U.S.’s government’s long list of broken legal promises to Native Americans.


Members of the occupation received support from many civil rights and labor activists, both in the Bay Area and nationally, and explained the purpose of their protest through a newsletter and regular radio broadcasts. Although Federal Marshals eventually removed the protesters, and their demands – including title to the island and the construction of a Native American cultural and educational center – were not granted, scholars view the two-year protest as a springboard for modern-day Indian activism. Alcatraz Is Not an Island creates a powerful snapshot of this revolutionary incident and gives life to the words of Richard Oakes: “Alcatraz is not an island. It’s an idea. It’s the idea that you can recapture and be in control of your life and your destiny.”

The Riverside Community College District would like to thank the law firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore for their generous sponsorship of this series.

This post was contributed by student worker Cynthia Mosely.

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MinéMonday: Miné in Europe

Headshots, France, 1938-9

After graduating from Berkeley in 1937 with a Master’s degree in both Art and Anthropology, Miné Okubo took a freighter across the Atlantic and traveled alone through Europe. She studied art, visited the great museums, and, at 26 years old, continued developing her unique style and worldview.

Miné won the prestigious Bertha Taussig Traveling Art Fellowship in 1937, which made her trip possible. She rode a used bicycle all over Paris, taking in the sights and sounds and experiencing the art of the Louvre. She studied under legendary avant-garde painter Fernand Léger, honing her technical skills and learning about art perspectives on movements such as social realism, the influence of which is apparent in her later work.

As she bicycled through different European towns and cities, she often packed art supplies and lunch and rode to places of interest, pausing to internalize what she saw. Using this time for reflection, she then created her own images based on the meanings or truths she found in places, people, and things. She traveled in over a dozen different European countries while on her fellowship, refining her art and taking time for introspection and self-development.

Standing by lightpost, Naples, 1939

In September 1939, war was on the horizon in Europe. Friends urged Miné to go home to Riverside, but she continued working until she received a telegram that her mother was sick. Along with refugees hurrying to leave Europe before bombs began to fall, Miné caught one of the last passenger ships back to the United States from Bordeaux, France. She made it home in time to see her mother alive, and began her work as an artist with the Works Progress Administration, where she worked on public art projects and painted alongside Diego Rivera at Treasure Island in the Bay Area. On December 7th, 1941, Japan launched a surprise bomb attack on Pearl Harbor. Many shocked Americans no longer trusted anybody of Japanese heritage, even those formerly known as good friends and neighbors. War changed everything, and Miné’s future as an artist was in doubt.

Next #MinéMonday: Internment

Post contributed by volunteer Danielle Sanchez, with appreciation to Hal Fischer, Mary Curtin, and the members of Miné’s family.