Biographies & Memoirs

Conviction: A Memoir

By

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Synopsis

How do you live a purposeful life in a world divided by racial, social, and economic inequality?

What can today’s social justice activists learn from the powerful mass movements of the 1960s and ’70s?


Conviction is the story of one woman’s journey from a working-class town in central California through some of the most significant struggles for radical change in the last third of the twentieth century.

Confronted with intense criticisms of U.S. imperialism while traveling in Europe as a student, C. K. Gallagher enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley and participated in the battle for ethnic studies programs, became an ally of the Black Panther Party, and spent three years as a political prisoner at the California Institution for Women. She takes the reader with her inside Cuba and China, where she experiences different models of socialism; the auto industry, as a member of the United Auto Workers union; and the public schools, where she spent twenty years as a dedicated teacher.

Conviction reflects a life lived in significant times and inspires hope for a new generation of activists.

Prologue - Berkeley, California, 1969

I am marching down Telegraph Avenue, a tall figure surrounded by hundreds of other demonstrators. I am wearing rose-colored granny glasses, and winter breezes blowing in from San Francisco Bay dishevel my long, wavy hair. My eyes burn from the tear gas that penetrates the campus’s entire southern section. I tie a wet handkerchief over my mouth and nostrils to stop it from ravaging my throat.


Policemen openly brandish shotguns, firing pellets and birdshot into the crowd. I hear a window shattering at the Bank of America ten yards away, between Bancroft and Durant Streets. I glance at the woman next to me, who has blood streaming down her face from airborne fragments of glass. “Keep going!” she shouts.


As I continue down Telegraph, a California Highway Patrol officer stationed along the perimeter shouts out my name: “Candy, what in the hell do you think you’re doing? You need to get out of this mess!”


It is my cousin Bill Loveless, the son of my father’s sister. He has been mobilized from Fremont, California. I remember when he and his wife bought their tract house in that suburban neighborhood thirty-two miles away. Now here he is, confronting me on my college turf.


“Leave me alone, Bill. You don’t understand what’s going on,” I say.


“That’s it,” Bill says, consternation in his voice. “I’m calling your dad.”


About the author

C.K. Gallagher has been an advocate for social justice and change since she left her hometown of Salinas in the 1960s. After traveling through Europe and attending the University of California at Berkeley, she joined other young activists in reimagining a more just society. This is her story. view profile

Published on November 30, 2020

Published by

50000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs