DASHING AROUND THE Democratic National Convention in San Francisco in 1984, it seemed surreal and revolutionary to watch female v.p. candidate Geraldine Ferraro and black presidential candidate Jesse Jackson speak to the crowd and the nation. Few thought it would happen in the traditional, hidebound realm of U.S. politics.
The 1980s had exploded with diversity-related news and trends. Society was at the cusp of vast social change. Multiculturalism and diversity soon became dirty words, and a culture war and strong backlash against political correctness swept America.
Gays in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York were creating communities and gaining political strength.. Women and minorities were rising to political office and the corporate suite. Immigration, economic isues, the apartheid movement were making news. Ethnic studies in universities continued to grow and expose students to broader U.S. history. A former colleague, the late gay journalist Randy Shilts, was breaking the first stories on AIDs. I was writing stories on the Japanese American internment during World War II, including my family's history at Manzanar, and the political fight for monetary redress from the U.S. government. During the 1984 presidential race, I landed an interview with Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan, the most controversial and polarizing figure of that election year.
The nation was divided. Volatile social issues seemed to be everywhere, and I wondered at the time if the country would ever change or heal.