Growing up gay in the Midwest in the 1980s, writer Marke Bieschke said he had no idea the power his voice could have.
Bieschke, publisher and arts editor for the online publication 48 Hills, was never taught the history of the gay rights movement, or of pride. His new book “Into the Streets: A Young Person’s Visual History of Protest in the United States” aims at addressing that lack of resources available for young people to learn about the history of protests in this country.
Jammed with colorful photography, “Into the Streets” illustrates some of America’s most contentious movements in a language that’s easy to digest.
“I really wanted to connect with young people who live in such a visual time right now,“ Bieschke said. “I’m really hoping that anyone who’s curious, comes into this book and finds out that there have been people throughout history who have the same feelings of frustration as them.”
Bieschke began working on the book two years ago, after he realized during a talk with his publisher that nobody has ever written a history of protests for young people. The idea came to him during what he described as a “lull of protesting,” and he had no indication that it would ultimately become so timely.
“This year things kind of exploded right when it was about to come out,” he said. “I was blown away…it was supposed to come out in May, but like almost every other thing it got put on hold because of the pandemic and we thought, well, nobody’s going to protest during the pandemic.”
Not only did people protest during the pandemic, but many of the movements were organized by youth leaders.
“What’s been striking about these protests, are just the amount of young people that are involved and engaged,” he said. “It’s amazing how much protests have become just part of our civic life.”
Bieschke said he was happy to see the de-corporatization of Pride rallies in The City this year.
“For years people have been saying that Pride has become too commercialized,” he said. “So really, one of the fascinating things that happened last month was just seeing how Pride transformed from something with like 5,000 Google employees into almost a kind of antifa kind of action.”
Part of what Bieschke hopes to address in his book is the concept that protests should result in immediate action. Instead, he hopes people will understand from his book that many protests are just laying the foundation for further action.
“There are so many other purposes for protests,” he said. “What we saw with the George Floyd protests and how they spring up throughout the country, and how many people came out and were educated about the issues, was the deep work that a lot of Black leaders and Black people and the Black Lives Matter movement did since Ferguson to educate people.”
Bieschke said he hopes that his book will help contribute to this type of education that you won’t find in the mainstream media or history classrooms.
Into the Streets: A Young Person’s Visual History of Protest in the United States
Written by: Marke Bieschke
Published by: Zest Books
Price: $20 (paperback), $38 (hard cover)
Note: Bieschke speaks in a virtual San Francisco Public Library event at 7 p.m. Aug. 12. Visit https://sfpl.org/events/2020/08/12/author-talk-marke-bieschke-streets to register.