Orange County Civil Rights:
A History of an Enduring Struggle for Equality


For many, mention of the civil rights era conjures up images of the protests, sit-ins and marches in the South. However, we in the West also contributed to achievements of the era and Orange County is no exception. From the fight for desegregated schools to the fight for LGBT rights, Orange County has shared in the nation’s civil rights tragedies and triumphs.

It is our sincere hope that this look back will empower us, as members of the Orange County family, to own our past and use it as a source of inspiration to continue the struggle to make this a county where ALL live free from violence and discrimination.

Thank You to Our Supporters

OC Human Relations would like to thank our collaborators and community partners who’ve supported the OC Civil Rights History Exhibit, including:

  • Bob Johnson
  • Kevin Cabrera
  • Robert McDonald
  • Reverend Ivan Pitts
  • California State University, Los Angeles Students
  • OC Human Relations Interns
  • OC Civil Rights Committee
  • Susan Reese, Graphic Artist


The exhibit now has a permanent home at the Heritage Museum of Orange County.

Other “Virtual Exhibits” of Interest

A number of museums and Ethnic-studies programs have virtual, online exhibits. We’ve listed those that we’re aware of below:

BETWEEN2WORLDS: Is a project of the Center for Lao Studies (CLS) to document the untold stories of Lao refugees in the U.S. through audio and video media. The LOHA project team interviewed over 20 families of varying ethnicities in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA and Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN and captured the stories of their journeys from life in Laos, to experiences in “reeducation” and refugee camps, to relocation and settlement in the United States.

Discover Nikkei: Discover Nikkei is a community website about Nikkei identity, history and experiences. The goal of this project is to provide an inviting space for the community to share, explore, and connect with each other through diverse Nikkei experiences, culture, and history. The site is a cornerstone program of the Nikkei Legacy Project, a project of the Japanese American National Museum, with major funding by The Nippon Foundation.

chinese american museum

Chinese American Museum: The mission of the Chinese American Museum (CAM) is to foster a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, America’s diverse heritage by researching, preserving, and sharing the history, rich cultural legacy, and continued contributions of Chinese Americans.
The Chinese American Museum (CAM) is dedicated to the Chinese American experience and history in this region.

Remembering Vietnam: This exhibition presents both iconic and recently discovered National Archives records related to 12 critical episodes in the Vietnam War. They trace the policies and decisions made by the architects of the conflict and help untangle why the United States became involved in Vietnam, why it went on so long, and why it was so divisive for American society.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture: The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans.

National Civil Rights History Museum: The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, is steadfast in its mission to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how this significant era continues to shape equality and freedom globally. Established in 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

National Indo-American Museum: NIAM is the repository of the Indian American narrative. Serving as a hub for the entire spectrum of the Indian American experience, keeping its stories alive and relevant, using fresh and innovative ways to connect with audiences. NIAM engages generations of visitors of all communities in exploring the rich cultural heritage, long immigrant history and important contemporary developments that shape the lives of millions of Americans of Indian origin.

German American Heritage Center and Museum: (GAHC) seeks to preserve the heritage of our German speaking ancestors for present and future generations and to enrich our knowledge of the German immigrant experience. Its Mission is to “preserve and enrich for present and future generations knowledge of the German immigrant experience and its impact on the American Culture.”

Italian American Museum of Los Angeles: Although Los Angeles is home to the nation’s fifth-largest Italian American population, the community’s history, which predates California’s statehood, was seldom explored until recently. By examining Southern California’s Italian roots, the IAMLA aims to promote understanding about a region and its history that is a microcosm of the nation and the world.