Tony Platt



Engaging the Past: Charles M. Goethe, American Eugenics, and Sacramento State University

This article involves Platt’s research and activism on the campus of California State University, Sacramento, that brought to light the past of Sacramento banker and philanthropist Charles M. Goethe, who was honored during the campus’ formative years, but was part of a California eugenics circle that boosted Nazi “racial science.” Beyond his strong ties to Nazi eugenics scientists were his discriminatory business practices that helped to shape racial boundaries in Sacramento. In the 1920s, Goethe stopped selling real estate to Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans; refused to sell homes to Japanese immigrants; in the 1940s, he bankrolled racist, anti-Japanese campaigns, and in the 1950s, he railed against the “Oriental penetration” of the United States. Student activism has successfully protested the university’s blind spot regarding Goethe, including the naming of a campus arboretum after him.

eugenics, Charles M. Goethe, activism, racism

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 32, No. 2 (2005): 17-33.


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