Upon entering the building, visitors are introduced to the Center and its mission through Riverside Stories, an interpretive exhibition devoted to the complementary themes of civil rights and social justice in the context of 20th century Riverside. The struggle for social justice and civil rights in Riverside is explored through an introduction to Riverside citizens who made significant contributions in the ongoing fight for equality.
Through images, text and video interviews, a compelling story of courage and commitment emerge. These stories are wide ranging: from the Harada family, who challenged the Alien Land Act in the courts on behalf of their American born children, to Frank Johnson, who fought to integrate a public swimming pool in the 1920s. Native American Rupert Costo, a graduate of Riverside Community College, went to Washington, D.C. to fight for tribal water rights and with his wife, Jeannette Costo, were prominent national leaders in the fight for the economic and social rights for Native Americans. John Sotelo, the first Mexican American to be elected to Riverside’s city council, worked to secure equal treatment for minority groups by ensuring representation in city government and securing community facilities for underserved neighborhoods.
These stories mark a beginning. In the years to come, many more stories will be included and told through the Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties.