Each July since 1994, San Francisco has played host to LaborFest, an event established to institutionalize the history and culture of working people in an annual labor cultural, film, and arts festival. As part of this year’s LaborFest, CHS hosted an evening gallery talk entitled A Night of Tar, Feathers, and Terror: Anti-labor Vigilantism in Sonoma.
In the evening of August 21, 1935 a band of vigilantes abducted Sol Nitzberg—a Jewish Sonoma County chicken farmer—along with three other labor organizers. Nitzberg and Silva Green (another organizer) were tarred and feathered and forced by the mob to parade through Santa Rosa. For our event, Barry Nitzberg—grandson of Sol Nitzberg— and historian Ken Kann were present at the CHS galleries to unpack the history of labor organizing in and vigilante terror in Sonoma County, including the 1935 Sebastopol Apple Pickers Strike, the assault on Nitzberg and Green, and the role of ACLU in the subsequent trial.
CHS member Oliver Pollak wrote the following response and event recap in the evening in the San Diego Jewish World:
"Imagine, 1974 was 39 years after the event, and 2018 was 44 years after the book. Who would still be interested 83 years after the event? Well, an over-flow crowd of one hundred fifty people attended, some were sitting on the staircase. These children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends of Zionists, Communists, Socialists, the old left, anarchists and some red diaper babies listened intently and then asked questions, some of which recalled the tension between the Rechters (right wing) and Linkers (left wing), echoes of the McCarthy anti-communist inquisition, Israel socialism and Zionism in Israel."
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