The Commonwealth Blog
This day in Commonwealth Club history: 99 years ago, future University of California president David P. Barrows discussed "The Mexican Crisis and General Villa" in his August 19, 1915, address to the Club. José Doroteo Arango Arámbula — aka Francisco Villa or Pancho Villa — was one of the most famous generals in the Mexican civil war.
By Hillary Straba
Almost exactly 40 years ago, on Aug. 16, 1974, when Ibrahim Shebat delivered his speech “The Middle East — Peace or War?” to The Commonwealth Club, peace between Israel and Palestine seemed unlikely.
Shebat, editor of Al Mersad, an Arabic version of Hebrew newspaper Al HaMishmar, stressed the need for compromise and emphasized that both sides had members who were in favor of a peaceful settlement and were willing to negotiate. Shebat believed that the problem could be solved using a two-state solution.
It has been 40 years since Shebat’s speech and the conversation has not changed. With the recent military action in Gaza, the conflict is in the headlines yet again and the proposed solutions remain the same – the one-state solution, the two-state solution, or the destruction of one side.
We add our voices to the many folks expressing sadness over the tragic loss yesterday of comedian/actor Robin Williams. He was a Bay Area giant, whose comic gifts went hand in hand with a devotion to philanthropy and service. In addition to working with the USO and sick children, he took the time in 2003 to record a radio PSA — a public service announcement — for The Commonwealth Club's 100th anniversary.
In addition to the "straight" version that would eventually air on the radio, he also recorded this version, in which he has some fun with the script; now, for the first time, we make available this recording. LISTEN TO ROBIN WILLIAMS SPEAK FOR THE CLUB.
This day in Commonwealth Club history: Outspoken labor leader Samuel Gompers discussed "The Way Out" in his July 2, 1920, speech to The Commonwealth Club of California.
Gompers was the founder of the AFL, which he led until his death in 1924.
This day in Commonwealth Club history: British economist William H. Beveridge spoke of "The Foundations of Security: The Beveridge Plan" in a June 18, 1943, speech to The Commonwealth Club of California.
Beveridge — later named the 1st Baron Beveridge — designed the welfare system adopted by Great Britain after the Labour Party defeated Winston Churchill in 1945.
Today in Commonwealth Club history: "The Russian Government and the American Passport" was the title of the speech delivered to The Commonwealth Club of California on June 17, 1911.
By Amelia Cass
This day in Commonwealth Club history: On June 12, 1909, Supervisor J. A. Johnston called for the creation of a municipal streetcar line to prevent United Railroads from monopolizing San Francisco’s transit system, saying, – http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19090613.2.75 — “Gentlemen, I think you will agree with me when I say that if we do not run our public utility services, the public utility services will run us."
Starting service in 1912, the publicly owned transit agency would employ operators who had been blacklisted by United Railroads for striking, and Muni has had a strong relationship with labor ever since. That relationship is presently being tested in contentious contract negotiations with the Transport Workers Union. [See http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Muni-officials-expect-normal-servi... ]
Today in Commonwealth Club of California? history: Japanese peace activist and social reformer Toyohiko Kagawa discussed his work with the poor in a June 5, 1935, speech titled "Up from the Slums of Japan."
For more on Kagawa and his postwar work in Japan, see Wikipedia.
In 1993, when Shelia Cook gave her April 21st talk on “The Role of the Female Entrepreneur,” the presence of woman-owned enterprise in the U.S. economy was growing quickly (link upens up a PDF), and today women still start businesses at a rate higher than the national average (link opens up PDF).
But women haven't been catching up to men in the creation of big, high-revenue businesses. At a Club event this March, Arianna Huffington suggested that women, more often than men, go into entrepreneurship looking for job flexibility and satisfaction rather than pure financial gain, while Sheryl Sandburg argued that lingering stereotypes about what business magnates look like are holding women back.
Clearly whatever causes this gender gap hasn't restrained the Power Women speaking to the Club next month.
On April 16, 1984, as Henry Kissinger spoke to the Club about a bipartisan report on Central America he chaired, rowdy demonstrators gathered both outside and inside the meeting, protesting, among other things, U.S. involvement in the mining of Nicaraguan ports. During his talk, Kissinger denied any inside knowledge, but endorsed the policy and joked about the protest saying "…few people can unify the American people like I can. I have a great constituency of nuts on the left and an equal constituency of nuts on the right."
Kissinger has remained active in U.S. foreign policy, continuing to outrage people across the spectrum. This March he wrote, “The Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other – it should function as a bridge between them." This outlook is consistent with his Cold War advocacy of détente, yet might sound to some as being remarkably sanguine for a ruthless realist.
- 1 of 24