San Diego’s new Mayor Bob Filner has a half-century history of political activism, and it’s tough to keep track of all he’s done.
In time for the holidays, we’ve compiled a short Filner biography that links to some of the best stories about the new mayor’s background and political motivation. Consider this the Voice of San Diego encyclopedia entry on Filner.
The Freedom Rider
Let’s start with the most formative political experience of his life: his decision in May 1961 as a college sophomore at Cornell University to join the Freedom Rider protest of southern segregation. Filner rode a bus to Jackson, Miss., where he was arrested after integrating a transit terminal. He spent two months in jail and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturned his conviction.
It became Filner’s first and most profound example of using a political strategy developed by Martin Luther King Jr. called “creative tension.” The idea, Filner told us for a July profile, is to force change by making opponents uncomfortable without resorting to violence.