SALINAS >> When historian Carol McKibben set out to write a book about Seaside, she discovered the threads that connect people to weave a rich tapestry weren’t obvious. There was a strong narrative about racial conflict, but what proved to be the strongest link among Seaside residents was the military presence.
It became the driving force of her book, “Racial Beachhead: Diversity and Democracy in a Military Town,” which has become a case study for military towns and how cities are interpreted and evolved in the context of the civil rights movement.
McKibben, a professor of U.S. History at Stanford University, is now tackling another project with a myriad of threads. It’s the Salinas History Project, which she began researching in November and had its official launch in April.
McKibben sat down with The Herald to talk about her journey as a California girl and historian, her approach to researching and writing history, and why it’s important that history includes community voices. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Q Where did you grow up?
A My family lived in Los Altos, my grandmother had a ranch in Gilroy. I grew up picking prunes and cutting apricots. I have California history in my heart, I’m a California girl. I got interested in history in college, it was probably the most popular major and I had great professors. I went to the University of Washington for my bachelors; I just fell in love with (history). One of my professors at the time said, “you’re going to go to grad school, you’re going to get a Ph.D.” I…
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