At Kaiser Permanente facilities in Vallejo, patients are known to casually drop the name of “Mr. Tyson” as a long time family friend when they want special attention.
Although Vallejo native Bernard J. Tyson is now CEO of the $55 billion, 200,000 employee health maintenance organization based in nearby Oakland, he hopes that all 10 million patients feel as if they personally know the boss.
The result would be better medicine and much better health, he contended during a speech at the University of San Francisco. He particularly cites health disparities among African-Americans as an area where greater cultural competency is needed.
On Friday, the patient was the entire African-American community of San Francisco,surrounded by some of the world’s best health care, but beset with some of the most glaring disparities on the planet and losing black population more rapidly than any major city in the United States.
Tyson said he is approaching diverse needs of his stakeholders by dramatically increasing procurement among minority and women owned businesses from $400 million to $1.3 billion and constantly analyzing patient care data.
He met a local scientist whose discoveries could help both those efforts, Dr. John Commissiong, chief scientific officer of Amarantus Bioscience Holdings. It’s MANF smart protein has promising clinical results in therapies for Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and traumatic brain injury.
The morning symposium, a joint effort of the university and Mayor Edwin M. Lee, is the first of several gatherings planned to address the causes of the outmigration.
Dr. J. Renee Navarro, vice chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, picked up on Tyson’s theme, pointing to its $500 million procurement budget, largely from federal research dollars, and new hospitals nearing completion.
Dr. Amos C. Brown, pastor of the 162-year-old Third Baptist Church, reminded all present that blacks had not shared in the San Francisco boom as its key industries of health care, technology and tourism all break new records.
One of the first questions from listeners during my appearance on the Carl Nelson Show on WOL Monday was “can you get other food than soul food at black restaurants?” We were discussing Black Food Month all of March and my constantly updating book Say Grace and Wipe Yo’ Hands: the BlackRestaurant.Net Guide to America’s Black Restaurants.
The answer came from my personal history and from the history of American cuisine, a field that was almost the exclusive preserve of African-Americans in the not too-distant past.
It also piqued curiosity for listeners to learn that there are chains of African American restaurants. I was called upon to list the largest Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery, which Lowell Hawthorne has built into a powerhouse with more than 100 franchises; Texas-based Williams Fried Chicken, founded by the civic-minded Hiawatha Williams and Presidential favorite Harold’s Chicken Shack, the Chicago-based icons now led by Kristen Pierce, daughter of founder Harold Pierce.
Locally, in D.C. It’s signature eatery is undergoing a growth spurt that has the late co-founder Ben Ali smiling. As his widow, Mrs. Virginia Ali, explained during a lengthy interview for Say Grace, they persevered since 1958 through the post-riot decline of U Street. When I was resident assistant at Howard University’s Cook Hall, I would take groups of dorm mates down the hill for half-smokes.
Now Ben’s has it’s own visitor center upstairs, fine dining in Ben’s Next Door, and concessions in both National Stadium and Fedex Field, with a new location under construction at Reagan National Airport.
Henry’s Soul Cafe also has four locations in the District and Maryland. Marcus Samuellsen has put his imprint on the new Howard Theater, in addition to his Red Rooster in Harlem, Marc Burger in Los Angeles and C Lounge in Chicago.
Between Ben’s and the Howard Theater is Oohs and Aahs, which is demonstrating that just one location can attract a global audience. Another of our college favorites, Florida Avenue Grill, has had so many celebrities eat there that it puts their signed photos as the covers of the menus. As an aside, my freshman instructor, revolutionary poet Haki Madhubuti had convinced me to become a vegetarian, but we always made exceptions for Ben’s Chili Bowl and Florida Ave. Grill.
Tamam Tracy Moncur was just months away from graduating from Berkeley High School. But when she summoned 2,000 demonstrators to sit-in at the Palace Hotel, she rocked the city’s establishment. The scenes of police carrying students out of the venerable establishment caused Mayor John Shelley to call all 37 of the city’s major hotels to meet with the 18-year-old leader of the Ad Hoc Coalition and her colleagues.
On March 6, 1964, they reached an agreement to integrate employment in the entire local hospitality industry, just six months after sit-ins began at Mel’s Drive-In.
On the 50th anniversary of that little-known civil rights milestone, Come to the Water: Teaching San Francisco Black History describes the United San Francisco Freedom Movement, subject of an exhibition Students and Scholars Marching for Civil Rights: The 50th anniversary of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement, at 3 p.m. at the Visitor Center Theater, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, 499 Jefferson St. in Fisherman’s Wharf.
Almost a century earlier, another local teen, Charlotte Brown, desegregated local streetcars in 1864 by refusing to go to the back of the vehicle. Come to the Water shows the relationship of the ongoing freedom movement which continued from the Underground Railroad through such contemporary milestones as the integration of labor unions, end of colonialism, and passage of national civil rights legislation.
The African-American Freedom Trail illustrates the physical footprint of those activities across the city. The exhibition closes on March 6 at Pier One, the headquarters of the Port of San Francisco, before moving to the Black Coalition on AIDS/Rafiki Wellness, 601 Cesar Chavez on Monday, March 10.
The California legislature created Black American Day on March 5 to honor Crispus Attucks as the first American to die for the country and to require every classroom in the state to focus on the contributions of African-Americans to American history.
The education holiday actually predates the creation of Black History Month in the mid-1970s, but is little known and rarely put into effect.
Come to the Water: Teaching San Francisco Black History continues its seven week course on Wednesday, March 5 with a discussion of the industrial period of the African-American freedom movement in San Francisco from 1929 to 1960.
A number of international figures got significant boosts to their stature in San Francisco during that period, including A. Philip Randolph, Dr. Howard Thurman, Langston Hughes and local youth like Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, Burl Toler and Ollie Matson, Maya Angelou and Johnny Mathis.
The African-American Freedom Trail is a powerful tool for illustrating the scope of that history.
Learn more about the period at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, in the Visitor Center Theater of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical
Park, 499 Jefferson St.
But when $75 billion of the $1.2 trillion African-Americans spent in 2013 went to food purchases of some kind, everybody takes notice.
The fourth annual Black Food Month in March calls attention to the entrepreneurs who are recognizing that those consumers want culture and quality with their cuisine.
We created a special month just for food as a spinoff from National Black Business Month because how and why and where we eat is a profoundly economic and political decision.
It is also one of the closest ways to track the retention of African culture. For a quarter century, the Black Cuisine Festival held yesterday along Third Street in San Francisco has given chefs an outlet for their own distinctive flavor. The staff and members of the Dr. George P. Davis Multipurpose Senior Center have taken particular pride in teaching those skills to new generations.
Back in 1881, one of the first cookbooks by a black chef, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Food, had the same objective when published in San Francisco.
In the past week two of our Top 50 Names in Black Food teamed with the country’s foodie-in-chief as the First Lady issued announcements ending advertisements for sugary drinks in schools and improving food labels.
The influence on the mass market domestically and internationally is nothing new. What is changing is the recognition that black food innovators are receiving for their work.
Nowadays traditional showcases like Ebony and Essense have to vie with network morning shows and cable channels to book the hottest chefs, some reaching the acclaim once reserved for entertainers and athletes.
Our book SAY GRACE AND WIPE YO’ HANDS: BLACKRESTAURANT.NET’s Guide to America’s Black Restaurants gives consumers and purchasers the resource to capture that fast growing wave of flavor. With 800 listings, even in Utah, Idaho and Alaska, no traveler should be without this book.
From multistage chains to traditional community anchors, Black Food Month also provides the opportunity for the kind of promotion that large nationwide ventures typically enjoy.
31Ways31Days is our simple way to use SAY GRACE to find your feast during basketball playoffs, spring break and the Easter holidays. That include the rising number of grocery manufacturers following in the footsteps of the beloved late Sylvia Woods.
All month, we’ll highlight new locations and other milestones around the country. Don’t hesitate to let us know about businesses in your neck of the forest by tweeting us at blkbizmonth.
Salt Lake City and San Francisco are usually presented as polar opposites but across the street from the Mormon Temple Friday an audience was enthralled learning about San Francisco’s African American musical heritage. Today we continue that discussion in Fisherman’s Wharf at 11 am in the Visitor Center Theater of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, 499 Jefferson St. during Come to the Water.
I’ll discuss 38 landmarks and four streets recognizing African-Americans in downtown San Francisco during Come to the Water at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Visitor Center Theater of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, 499 Jefferson St. (at Hyde between the Cable Car turnaround and the Hotel Argonaut across from the Hyde Street pier).
The fourth marker honoring Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff (pictured) has become an instant sensation in the Financial District with First Lady Michelle Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown having visited in the first month of its completion.
However, there is a figure with even more markers to his name in downtown.
Next Saturdays Come to the Water begins at the same location at 11 a.m. with a focus on the birth of jazz on March 1.
On March 5, Black American Day, a California state education holiday marking the death of Crispus Attucks as the first American to die for the country, we will look at the Double V era at 3 p.m.
On March 6, the 50th anniversary of the successful conclusion of the Palace Hotel sit-ins, we’ll discuss the continuing impact of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement at 3 p.m.. Both events are also at the Visitor Center Theater.
The newly completed statue of Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff is capturing the attention of many, reports the company which installed the artwork in San Francisco’s Financial District. Megha Rajput, executive assistant at Clinton Reilly Holdings, said many people stop to ask questions about the engraved inscription which lists the many accomplishments of the sailor-merchant-diplomat-legislator who packed many lifetimes into a mere 38 years.
At the conclusion of the Black Maritime Heritage Festival, she mentioned that the First Lady, Michelle Obama, had seen the sculpture and legend while speaking at the One Leidesdorff Place meeting space operated by Clinton Reilly Holdings.
The same appeal was reported for the African-American Freedom Trail exhibit at Pier One by Port of San Francisco executive director Michelle Moyer in her report to the Port Commission Thursday. Deputy executive director Byron Rhett was among the dignitaries attending the festival Friday morning.
Supervisor Malia Cohen applauded Reilly for commissioning the statue. “This is really big,” she said. Cohen also took note of the participation of the Ebony Boat Club, California’s only African-American boaters group, based in Antioch, for its offer to share the experience of boating for local young people.
Past Commodore James Mack and Treasurer Otis Brock said their club is one of the more active in the state, winning awards during the annual Opening of the Bay events for their decorations.
The supervisor said such experiences should be available to constituents in her district which includes the longest shoreline in the city, but does not have docking facilities.
Sarah O’Neal Rush, great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, and Teresa Baker, founder of African-American National Parks Day, also underscored the importance of providing water experiences for young people. “It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood the importance of Booker T. Washington and it literally changed my life,” said Rush. “That’s why I formed a foundation to give the same experience to youth.” She takes groups of youth on a tour that mirrors the important sites of Washington’s life.
Baker created the special event last year and is planning the second edition June 7-8, with a local focus on the Buffalo Soldier trail. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, has introduced a bill to have the National Park Service study the creation of a trail between the Presidio and the national parks patrolled by the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Regiments.
Cohen reiterated her support for the creation of an African-American Freedom Trail. She was presented with copies of the African-American Heritage Trail book for the District of Columbia and a National Gallery of Art booklet on the Shaw monument depicting the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.
Reilly also received the same tokens of appreciation for his patronage of the Leidesdorff sculpture.
In 1524, Esteban Gomez was the first Portuguese explorer to reach what is now the United States, including exploring the New York Harbor and Hudson River. Gomez a black sailor who was part of Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe. A 1529 map described the area from Nova Scotia to Virginia as Tierra de Esteban Gomez in his recognition. It’s part of the history explored today and Saturday during the Black Maritime Heritage Festival at 10 a.m. at Pier One and Saturday at 11 a.m. at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Visitor Center, 499 Jefferson Street. A discussion of the African-American Freedom Trail takes place at 9:30 a.m. at First Unitarian Universalist Society, 1 Starr King Way.
Say Grace and Wipe Yo’ Hands: the BlackRestaurant.NET Guide to America’s Black Restaurants is an indispensible guide for travelers, and even for unexpected pleasures in your own home town. It’s the first national guide for the $6 billion African-American food industry, estimated by the National Restaurant Association, to have grown 188 percent from 1997 to 2007.
The release of the draft standards on diversity performance for regulated financial institutions has caused a number of interested organizations to assess how this policy would impact African-American communities. Those neighborhoods were damaged to the tune of $400 billion by the sub-prime mortgage crisis which led to Dodd-Frank and have failed to participate in the recovery.
The comments of Kleiner Perkins founder Tom Perkins have touched off a firestorm. It certainly caught the attention of Perkins’ collaborator in the 1960s at Hewlett Packard, Roy Clay Sr.
Just after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Hewlett Packard hired Clay away from Control Data, where he had been manager of Cobol and Fortran programming, to be manager of computer research and development. That made him the second ranking official to Tom Perkins, HP’s general manager for computers. Clay was the first HP employee at its complex in Cupertino, now being redeveloped as Apple Computer’s headquarters.
Clay, featured in the ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage documentary Freedom Riders of the Cutting Edge, had made the extraordinary journey from 1951 when he graduated with a degree in mathematics from St. Louis University and was told by McDonnell Aircraft, “We have no jobs for professional Negroes.”
Clay recalls his relationship with Perkins, “He and my late wife, Virginia, sponsored a surprise birthday party for me on August 22, 1969 in Edinburgh Scotland.
He designed, built and recently sold his 900 ft boat, and his private car collection. Perkins started Silicon Valley simply by bringing venture capital to entrepreneurs, and creating the IPO. The KPCB first fund generated a return of 100 to 1. It
started when Bill Hewlett demanded that I cancel an order from Holiday Inns Hotel, and that I terminate the project that became Tandem Computers, later Compac Computer, which HP bought for $20 Billion at Perkins urging.
In 1971. Perkins left HP shortly after I did and urged me to join him at KPCB to start Tandem. Perkins showed great respect for me because of my success at HP under his domain. His letter to WSJ possibly reflects my difference with
Since 1977, Clay has operated Rod-L Electronics, a company which builds electronic test equipment. He has insisted on manufacturing in Silicon Valley, following the HP Way that Hewlett and Packard instilled. A long-lasting relationship with Jobs West in Menlo Park meant that dozens of residents of East Palo Alto gained an entry into the high technology industry by working in Rod-L’s factories.
It is a model which is coming into new favor as President Obama and others call for more manufacturing jobs in the United States.
More from Clay, who is working on his memoirs: “Tom Perkins is in the news which prompts me to send the folllowing notes which I am covering in my book as I talk about my life with Hewlett-Packard. We met at HP in 1966.
I saw Tom Perkins as a winner, because everything he touched became an unbelievable success, from collecting luxury automobiles to building the biggest boats. We sometimes disagreed with each other but remained respectful.
Some of the things I will always remember are: (1) Tom and Virginia hosted my 40th birthday party in Edinburgh, Scotland; a great surprise.
(2) Tom was my big supporter at HP, including recommending to Bill Hewlett that I succeed him as General Manager of the Computer Division.
(3)Tom resigned from HP, following my resignation, to form Kleiner Perkins
Caufield and Byers. He then came to me seeking assistance in forming Tandem
Computers Inc, the IPO which marked the beginning of Silicon Valley because
of its success. Tandem was a project that I initiated at HP but Bill
Hewlett demanded that I terminate.
However, HP bought the project 31 years later in the $20 Billion acquisition of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORPORATION.
(4) Tom asked me to meet with Bob Noyce of Intel to evaluate his invention of the
8080 microchip. Intel followed my recomendation to sell the chip for making
personal computers and a miriad of today’s products. Noyce died at 45 years
of age, before he would certainly received a Nobel prize in physics. Tom
asked me to meet an entrepeneur to evaluate his prototype personal computer.
I recommended that KPCB invest in what became COMPAQ COMPUTER CORPORATION.
(6) Tom invited me to a private dinner with then President Gerald Ford, at the Metropolitan Club in San Francisco.
(7) Most importantly, Tom contacted me to offer
Genentech cancer fighting drugs when he learned that Virginia had been
diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Ben’s Chili Bowl is landing at Reagan National Airport, the latest advance for the legendary U Street eatery founded in 1958. Co-founder Mrs. Virginia Ali gave us an exclusive interview for the new edition of Say Grace and Wipe Yo’ Hands: BlackRestaurant.NET’s Guide to America’s Black Restaurants.
GARYSBURG, NC –510Nano founder Dr. Reginald Parker assured Energy Dept. and Senate staff that a Northampton County former cotton field will soon power hundreds of homes.
He spoke to 80 guests at the groundbreaking of the company’s REPP1 solar farm, which will sell its electricity under a 15-year power participation agreement with Dominion Power North Carolina.
Parker, a veteran engineer with graduate degrees from Georgia Tech and MIT, said the project shows how technology can revive rural and some urban communities by bringing 30 construction jobs.
The dignitaries included the Honorable Dot Harris, the Director of US Department of Energy’s Office of Office of Economic Impact and Diversity; Betty Jo Shepheard from US Senator Richard Burr’s Office; Michael Jones from US Senator Kay Hagan’s Office; Reginald Speight from US Representative G. K. Butterfield’s Office; Northampton Commissioner Chair Robert Carter; Northampton Vice Chair Fannie P. Greene; and Northampton NAACP President Bennet M. Taylor.
510 REPP One is a 1.4 MW renewable energy power plant. It was designed to use 5,490 panels to generate over 1.8 million kWh. The power plant is situated on 6 acres and will be enough energy for 420 homes. The project expects to deliver 30 construction jobs. Over the next 18 months, 510nano plans to follow this project with several others to total 25 MW of solar energy.
STATESVILLE, N.C. — Less than a decade after the Woolworth sit-ins, my mother drove across North Carolina to deliver a birthday cake to my older brother’s dorm room at Duke University, left it and turned back around. It was still waiting for him the next morning and 40 years later at a reunion, he was remembered as the student whose mother brought him a birthday cake.
When the Black Students Union took over a building and she couldn’t reach him, she dispatched a delegation of five Presbyterian ministers to the campus to find him.
My brother and sisters were sharing why we considered her a virtuous woman as we sat in her hospice room in our hometown Saturday. Although she never opened her eyes, the doctor and attendants assured us she could hear every word we said. Because her faith was one of the most important legacies, it was part of a worship service.
Order was another important legacy. We ate dinner at five o’clock every day in assigned seats throughout our entire childhood.
Documentation was extremely important, recalled my younger sister. She kept a record of everything and insisted that we participate in any worthwhile activity. Would we leave for some place and not arrive, her extensive network would alert her.
Even to this day, we are defined by her example as a high school valedictorian in the 1940s. When my older sister ran for the leadership of the regional real estate organization, a childhood friend described her as “one of those smart Templetons from Statesville.”
My brother said, “I always knew I could go anywhere, do anything and compete with anybody.” She had a way of inspiring big goals. At age five, I calmly sat in a porch seat with my grandfather and explained in 1960 how I would get elected president in 1992 after first becoming governor of North Carolina and senator. For the rest of his life, he callled me “Senator.”
Evoking a combination of respect and fear despite never cursing or even raising her voice, she taught us that nothing was more important than character. Because she relied on the facts, she was relentless and unyielding in a fight, most especially for our late younger brother during a 40-year battle with the mental health establishment. He was autistic and did not use language in a conventional way. But she knew his inmost thoughts and devoted her life to caring for him.
Rather than respecting that connection, the research establishment made him the victim of a number of misguided experiments and he tragically lost his life when police responded to an ambulance call and took him to a jail instead of a hospital. As soon as it became known that it was her son, the entire community rallied behind her. A Superior Court judge became an advocate to create a new law requiring all law enforcement personnel be trained in how to respond to the autistic and the N.C. Autism Foundation create an award in my younger brother’s name.
An awestruck local NAACP branch president watched events unfold and every time he saw me over several days, said, “I shore like the way you all handle your business.”
So we turned to Proverbs 31:10-31 and I Timothy 2:9-10 so that we could let her know what we had learned from her. The physician explained that our society has lost touch with the natural dying process, which occurs for 80 per cent of all deaths and can take one to two years. Less technological societies have rituals to incorporate that natural process, but we have been misled by soap operas and movies to expect that modern medicine can stop death in all cases.
However the physical body which had seemed ageless into her eighth decade had been on a steady decline since three strokes in 2008. I was told to bring a black suit back then, but had the joy of sitting in her hospital room on Election Night 2008 and reminding her to vote absentee again in 2012 for America’s first black president.
After the benediction, the assistant told us she didn’t expect any changes so we left for the day. About six hours later, we received a call to return to hospice, driving back from Charlotte in the rain. We made it just in time to embrace her for her last breaths. Rev. Tim Bates of our home church, Calvary Presbyterian, came out to comfort us as we waited for the funeral home to pick her up.
He officiates at her memorial on Wednesday, Jan. 8, which would have been her 89th birthday, at 2 p.m. at Calvary 500 S. Green St. in Statesville.
SAN FRANCISCO — While many affluent newcomers take potshots at the residents of the mid-Market area, baker John Akins has done business by making their lives better.
After more than a decade and a half in the UN Plaza Heart of the City Farmers Market, Akins has signed a seven-year lease to open FoodPlus in the former Manor House at 210 Turk St. It is his second sit-down restaurant.
Akins has operated Cafe Golo in the Marina district for six years at 1602 Lombard St. The University of Utah alum and ex-Marriott manager has blended into mid-Market since becoming the first non-farmer vendor on U.N. Plaza. “I’ve never looked down on the people who live and work here, whether they’re a federal judge or someone looking for a job. Everyone needs to eat and I’m here to serve them.”
Alemany Market was Akins’ launching pad for his artisan baked goods. He did both Alemany and UN Plaza for a decade before opening Cafe Golo, an instant and consistent hit for breakfast and lunch in the Marina.
FoodPlus, as designed with landlord Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. , meets the needs of residents in a “food desert,” with limited options for fresh and healthy foods. Akins has used the produce from his fellow farmers market vendors for his entire career and plans to provide additional vegetables and fruit so that patrons can get the produce between markets. Another distinctive feature will be designated time and space for social workers, parole officers and other professionals to meet with residences in a comfortable dining setting as opposed to institutional settings.
Customers will also be able to get meal plans, so that they will have guaranteed access to healthy meals.
Akins has even more ideas for making the eatery a neighborhood asset. He plans to provide cooking lessons to nearby after-school programs and hire as many local residents as possible. It is a model he thinks will work in other food deserts. Some of his long-time customers are providing seed funding for the eatery.
Helping Akins design the business plan and format was Ibis Partners chief economist John William Templeton, founder of blackrestaurant.net. Templeton coordinated the Harvest Pantry Ministry jointly for St. John’s Presbyterian Church and Congregation Emanu’El in the inner Richmond for three years until recently. He found it was much more like running a supermarket than he expected. “Although the food is free, individual items need to be marketed and customer choice has to be taken into account.” That experience went into designing menus for the new venue.
Akins begins renovation after the holidays and expects to open FoodPlus early in 2014.
Northwestern University assistant professor of history Dr. Jasmine Johnson had an immediate brilliant thought when she saw the African-American Freedom Trail brochure. She would take her niece Gina Raye Levexier to see all of the 49 locations highlighted.
KPOO-FM Board Chair Terry Collins was similarly animated. “We’re going to let everybody know about this on the station, “ he promised.
To promote the idea of taking children to witness history, we encourage going to the Visitor Information Center to pick up a copy; then tweet your photos of the sites, including at least one photo at Marcus Books, 1712 Fillmore St. to blkbizmonth and californiablackhistory.com will send a Wizard of Califia certificate to the young person who takes that journey.
The African-American Freedom Trail brochure can be found in the Visitor Information Center at Powell and Market Streets in San Francisco adjacent to the cable car turnaround. Include African-American businesses and historic sites in your holiday travels to San Francisco with this informative guide. For more details, visit californiablackhistory.com for the book Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco.
Job Prospects Worsen for Young Black Technologists Only 12 percent of the 638,000 African-Americans in high technology jobs are under 30 years old, an indication of a changing employment landscape which the Silicon Ceiling series has tracked since 1998 and a challenge for college students like those at San Jose State facing the aftermath of a racial harassment crisis.
Mary Spio goes public; Amarantus licenses with University of Miami; Aphios receives patent for natural cancer therapy; WWT snares $6.9 billion award from Air Force; ChloroFill markets new sorghum line of building panels.
The 4th annual Come to the Water course also begins Jan. 24 and includes the Black Maritime Heritage Festival Jan. 25. Make black heritage your legacy during the holidays by ordering Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4.
To: The Honorable Jeffrey Rosen, District Attorney, Santa Clara County
From: John William Templeton, author Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4
Dear Attorney Rosen,
Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose NAACP, has asked that I provide you with historical context to view the decision to issue felony or misdemeanor charges in the San Jose State case. I was struck by the conscious decision-making regarding symbols in the case and believe there is a larger subtext.
I am author of the context statement on the history of African-Americans in San Jose and “African-Americans in the West” for the Oxford Encyclopedia of African-American History (2006) in addition to Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4.
I know the community well as former editor of the San Jose Business Journal and a former board member of the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose Jazz Society and Santa Clara Council, Boy Scouts of America.
Most recently, I was selected by the Masonic Grand Lodge of California to discuss the significance of Rev. Thomas Starr King, the orator who kept California in the Union.
Based on the history of such harassment against African-American males in colleges across the country, the incidents can be characterized as a terrorist act to force the victim to leave San Jose State University and more broadly to discourage African-Americans from attending the campus.
That invasion of his civil right to an education means that the offense occurred not only against the victim but against the society in general, specifically any other black students attending San Jose State University. Although you’re considering state charges, the right to attend the university is guaranteed both by the California Constitution and federal laws.
Meaning of the Symbolism
There is a deep strain of support for the Confederate cause in California history. Peter Burnett, the first governor, was a Southern supporter, as was Sen. William Gwin and most officeholders in the 1850s. A secret society of 15,000 Southern sympathizers sought to secede the southern part of the State from the Union.
However, the three-fifths clause of the Constitution ran counter to the evolution of California society. Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff was the richest and most powerful man in northern California, the host to Lt. John Fremont on his first expedition and the first black American diplomat as subconsul to Alta California. Leidesdorff would fund the U.s. Army and Navy during the Mexican War and start California’s first public school.
His rivals, Andres and Pio Pico, sought to keep the province in Mexico, albeit semi-autonomous, yet they continued to be economic forces in California under U.S. rule, owning 532,000 acres in southern California.
The Western sanctuary that I write about in the Oxford article was a welcoming environment for the Underground Railroad. A dozen African-American churches continue to operate with origins before the end of the Civil War, including First A.M.E. Zion in San Jose (1864). The first fugitive slave rescue occurred in San Jose in 1850.
The escape of John Brown’s widow and daughter to Saratoga, where they are buried today, is another indication of the prevailing sentiment locally.
By bringing a discredited ideology into the history of a free state, the perpetrators acted in a calculated fashion to convey the terror of the Ku Klux Klan, associated with violence against African-Americans against the victim.
Benjamin Wagner, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, writes:
Hate crimes also have a much broader impact within communities than many other types of violent crimes or property crimes. Because they are motivated by bias, hate crimes are often intended to, and do, send a broader message of violent intolerance toward a broad class of persons. Like terrorist incidents, the “message” aspect of the offender’s motive can be profoundly threatening to people far removed from the actual scene of the crime. The fact that the victims of such crimes are selected based on characteristics such as their race or religion can cause all those in the community who share that characteristic to experience similar feelings of vulnerability and secondary victimization. In its impact on the community, the fear of becoming a victim of violence can be nearly as debilitating as suffering through an actual crime. The message of intolerance that is communicated through a hate crime can have broadly disruptive social effects as well, and can lead to greater distrust of law enforcement or friction between racial or religious communities.
As the Justice Department describes it, there are three indications for hate crimes—the most frequent actual words, police investigations or hate symbols. This is the rare instance where all three types of evidence exist.
Additionally, there is an increasing trend towards multiple perpetrators.
“The percentage of violent hate crimes committed by two or three offenders increased from 11% during 2003-06 to 25% during 2007-11, while the percentage committed by a single offender declined across the two time periods (table 9). The percentage of violent hate crime committed by a group of four or more offenders remained relatively stable.
The percentage of violent hate crime victims who perceived the offender to be white increased from 37% in 2003-06 to 53% in 2007-11.”
The situation mirrors incidents at the University of Mississippi in 2005:
As a new freshman last September, Jeremiah Taylor accompanied his white roommate to a fraternity party where he was the only African American in attendance. He says a partygoer, noticing him, commented, “Oh my God, I can’t believe there’s a nigger here.” When Taylor turned to go, one student threw a beer can at him and some others pushed him down the stairs. In the ensuing weeks, he says many students suggested that by going to “their party” — meaning one for whites only — he had been looking for trouble. “I’m not in the fraternity circle,” he says. “I don’t know which parties you can go to and which you can’t.”
And The Citadel
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A black cadet whose room was invaded by five white cadets dressed like Ku Klux Klansmen has resigned from The Citadel, the South’s historic military academy, officials said yesterday.
“I feel that I have been made the villain when the villains remain at The Citadel,” said freshman Kevin Nesmith, 17, in a statement issued later by his family.
Nesmith, whose brother, Alonzo, is on The Citadel board, said he went to the administrative offices to say he was resiging, but an officer told him to write out a statement saying “I am resigning of my own free will for personal reasons.”
In a later statement, he said those reasons included the “dishonorable racial incident of Oct. 23,” in which five white cadets who were dressed in sheets and towels burst into his room, burned a paper cross and shouted racial slurs.
“Even after the incident and its investigation,” he said, “several cadets were still harassing me, mainly about the incident itself.” He said that “being a freshman in The Citadel system,” he was unable to respond to the harassment.
And at UC-San Diego
UC San Diego police are investigating the discovery about 11 p.m. Monday of what appeared to be a white pillowcase that had been crudely reconstituted into a KKK-style hood with a hand-drawn symbol. It was placed on a statue outside the main campus library, and a rose was inserted into the statue’s fingers.
Such incidents affect an entire campus, even if targeted at specific groups.
Miller et al. (1998), in a survey of 433 undergraduate students at one institution, found statistically significant differences in perceptions of campus policies by racial identity. Caucasian students described their campus racial climate as positive; African American students rated their campus racial climate as more negative. Caucasian students also rated highly instructors’ efforts to include multiple viewpoints in the curriculum and institutional policies related to recruitment and retention of people of color. African American and other students of color described interracial interactions on campus as less friendly and reported being the targets of racism.
Harassment was defined as any offensive, hostile, or intimidating conduct that interferes unreasonably with one’s ability to work or learn on campus (US Code Title 18). Twenty-five percent (n = 1,800) of undergraduate students responding to the survey indicated that they had personally experienced such behavior. A statistically significantly greater percentage of female respondents (75%; n =1345) reported experiencing harassment than male students (25%; X2 (1, n = 455) = 40.15,p. < .05). Interestingly, when further reviewing the data provided by male students, 62% of those reporting experiencing this behavior were members of two underrepresented groups (212 men of color and 71 sexual minority men).
in a study of 1,454 students, found statistically significant relationships between the students’ perceptions of racism on campus and their (a) academic and social experiences, (b) academic and intellectual development, (c) institutional commitment, and (d) persistence. These relationships between perceived campus environment and student outcomes held for both African American and White students, with the exception of the relationship with social experiences. Basically, the perception of a campus climate as “racist” negatively influenced the academic experiences, academic and intellectual development, institutional commitment, and persistence of both African American and White students.
The seminal report Hate Crimes on Campus describes some of the cases which have been resolved through convictions or plea agreements:
United States v. Samar. James Samar, a college student, was indicted on three counts of using threats of force to interfere with the federally protected rights of three students attending a small Massachusetts college. Samar used anti-Semitic slurs, threatened two fellow students, and threatened to kill one fellow student. In addition, he delivered photographs of holocaust victims to one student and stated, among other things, that the photographs were “a reminder of what happened to your relatives because they too made a mockery of Christianity.” Samar entered a plea greement.
United States v. Machado. A former student was convicted ot disseminating an e-mail containing racially derogatory comments and threats to 59 college student’s, nearly all of whom were of Asiandescent.
State v. Tozier. A student at a small college in Maine yelled anti-gay slurs and threats at a fellow student who was working in a student lounge and, in three consecutive attacks, violently choked the student. The defendant signed a consent decree in a civil rights case brought by Maine’s attorney general.
United States v. Lombardi. A non-student was charged with detonating two pipe bombs on the campus of a primarily African-American public university in Florida. After each of the bombings, violent racist telephone calls were made to the local television station.
State v. Masotta. Three white students at a university in Maine left an anonymous racist and threatening message on an African-American student’s answering machine. The message ended with the following:
“I wonder what you’re gonna look like dead? Dead. I wonder if when you die you’ll lose your
color. Like the blood starts to leave your body and you’regonna … start deteriorating and blood starts to leave your skin. … You get the picture? You’re *** dead.
The defendants signed consent orders in a civil rights case brought by Maine’s attorney general.
United States v. Little.The defendant, Robert Allen Little, was charged with igniting a homemade pipe bombing the dorm room of two African-American students on a small campus in Utah. The letters “KKK” were painted in red fingernail polish on the bomb’s firing device. The bomb caused extensive damage to the building and destroyed the belongings of both students. After the bombing, Little returned to the dorm and left a threatening and racist note on the door of another African-American student. Little was sentenced to 12 years in prison ,fined $12,000, and ordered to pay restitution.
Each of these cases could reasonably be described as involving equivalent or lesser infractions than the case currently under investigation.
I might ask you to ponder in your deliberation: “What charges would be in effect where there seven black students harassing one white student?”
I’m happy to discuss these items in greater detail. You may reach me at 415-240-3537 or at email@example.com
Often the progress that African-Americans make actually shows how far we have to go.
The medical kit for Doc McStuffins was featured on Toys R Us national advertisements as being on sale for four hours only from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, getting a leg up on the so-called Black Friday.
Although on an obscure channel, this animated series about an African-American girl who envisions herself as a doctor operating on her stuffed animals, has become the Olivia Pope of the pre-school set. More importantly, their parents have scooped up close to a billion dollars of merchandise. That put the toy kit on the front page of the people who make their business selling toys.
The question is why is it that 60 years after Dr. Kenneth Clark did his experiment with black and white dolls that decided Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954 that such a show would be produced.
In a century of motion pictures, comic books, video games and TV shows, the number of black animated characters does not reach two dozen.
In my paper for the American Educational Research Association in May, “Personal Authenticity and Perceived Chance of Success,” we described the power of bringing together a group of teens from San Francisco’s poorest neighborhood for six weeks, having them wear lab coats, calling them doctor and giving them medical research assignments in collaboration with actual scientists who looked like them.
It’s the pedagogy behind our network, ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage, because we realized that there has been no where in American media where African-American kids have a chance to be kids, and more importantly, to see themselves transitioning from being kids to becoming adults.
Instead, they get other folks left-over culture. My paper began with a description of Harry Potter, and the likely impact of that movie on most white kids around the world. For black kids, it’s not an analogy that fits.
What does fit is the extraordinary saga of African-American history and accomplishment, against odds that make fictional scenarios pale by comparison.
If a half-hour a week makes this much impact, how much safer and happier will our children be with daily affirmation of their basic humanity. That’s the question that consumes us.
ACCRA — New leadership takes the helm at Ghana’s national oil concern as a second major field goes into exploration.
Veteran banking and energy executive Alexander Kofi-Mensah Mould is new CEO of the Ghana National Petroleum Corp.
Mould joined the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) in April 2009 after over 20 years experience in leadership positions in the downstream petroleum industry and the banking and financial sectors with multinational banking corporations in the USA and Ghana, and nearly a decade of experience in the petroleum downstream sector with focus on Refining, Crude Oil and Petroleum Products Supply & Trading and Risk Management.
Ghana is among the new entrants alongside Nigeria and Angola as new drilling techniques open more areas of the Atlantic coast.
The Government of Ghana has formally approved the Plan of Development (“PoD”) for the Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme (“TEN”) discoveries. Approval of the PoD paves the way for Kosmos and its co-venturers,Tullow Oil, Anadarko Petroleum, PetroSA, and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation to proceed with the development of the discoveries, with associated major contracts expected to be finalized and subsequently awarded.
The TEN project is located in the Deepwater Tano Block, 60 kilometers (37 miles) offshore Ghana and approximately 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of the Jubilee Field. The TEN project is expected to deliver first oil in 2016, with a plateau production rate of 80,000 barrels of oil per day. Future development of gas resources at TEN is anticipated following the commencement of oil startup.
Development of TEN will include the drilling and completion of up to 24 development wells, with half of the wells designed as producers and the remainder for water and gas injection to support ultimate field recoveries. The wells will be connected through subsea infrastructure to a Floating, Production, Storage, and Offloading vessel (FPSO), moored in approximately 1,500 meters (4,920 feet) of water.
Darrell McKenna, Chief Operating Officer of Kosmos Energy, commented, “The approval of the TEN Plan of Development by the Government of Ghana is a positive milestone towards first production from the country’s second major offshore development.”
Following approval of the TEN PoD, Kosmos holds a 17 percent participating interest in the Deepwater Tano Block. The co-venturers include Tullow Oil plc as operator (47.18 percent), Anadarko Petroleum (17 percent),Sabre Oil & Gas Holdings Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Petro SA (3.82 percent), and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (15 percent).
Statement to Human Rights Commission Nov. 14, 2013
by John William Templeton, Chief Economist, Ibis Partners
Land use policy that is contrary to public health, particularly when applied in a disparate fashion, is constitutionally suspect. In 1888, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors had violated the 14th Amendment in the Yick Wo case by creating and implementing a land use policy designed to reduce Chinese laundries, although that was not the expressed intent.
Despite that guidance, the history of the building that houses Marcus Books suggests the same equal protection issues. It has been acquired through eminent domain at least once before as part of binding commitments made to the community affected by Redevelopment Areas A-1 and A-2.
Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, in her book Root Shock, interviewed persons affected by those policies in San Francisco. She writes, “People who have been displaced experience “root shock.” Root shock is the traumatic stress reaction to the loss of some or all of one’s emotional ecosystem.” Some of her more recent research implicates serial displacement in the spread of urban violence and diseases such as AIDS.
This particular building is a symbolic marker for the state of the community which was impacted by A-1 and A-2. She describes how “external structural factors” imbue “particular idiomatic meaning.”
For Frank Sinatra, the building meant “the hippest after-hours joint in America.” Despite that entertainment appeal, it was moved from 1690 Post Street, approximately the site of the Japantown Peace Plaza, to 1714 Fillmore Street along with a selection of other houses saved from demolition.
On March 30, 1968, Mrs. Mary Helen Rogers, co-founder of the Western Addition Community Organization, laid down the community’s expectations for the use of eminent domain following a March 2 meeting with Mayor Joseph Alioto.
“Let us not have another A1 or a Japan Town housing and shopping center that we can not afford. Renewal is needed in our area but we must be able to own, rent or lease property that is within our means. We as black people can no longer afford to have everything we have worked for be taken over by a few power-hungry or money-hungry downtown businessmen.”
More than a decade later, the plans had not been carried out. The demolished blocks were being used for farming, known as the Frederick Douglas Memorial Gardens. That idiomatic message left the community vulnerable in an extreme way to “root shock.”
The pivotal year of 1978 brought a comprehensive school boycott, addressing issues dating back to 1868. That boycott, like the student strike at San Francisco State, had the potential to change the direction of national policy.
But one of the worst tragedies in American history intervened – Jonestown, as 900 area residents were murdered in Guyana at the hands of People’s Temple leader Jim Jones.
It had the effect of accelerating the pace of action.
On May 17, 1979, Redevelopment Agency executive director Wilbur Hamilton affirmed, “We are absolutely, fundamentally committed” to making sure the Fillmore District is developed largely by Black investors and with facilities that reflect the cultural and commercial interests of the Black Community. “We could have marketed the entire center a number of times but we kept it essentially as a land bank until we could be sure of Black participation” Deals for the property will be negotiated rather than just merely awarded to the highest bidder, so that modest developers with community ties will be able to compete effectively against bigger companies.
One of the families hardest hit by Jonestown was the Richardson family. At the Feb. 1, 1979 Consultation on the Implications of Jonestown for the Black Church and Nation at Third Baptist Church, Dr. Raye Richardson noted that she lost many relatives in Guyana, including her younger sister.
The placement of the Victorian Square, became the only real manifestation of that commitment from the Redevelopment Agency, as banks redlined the area instead of financing Fillmore Economic Development Council, the designated developer for the Fillmore Center, a concept first advanced by the visionary Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett.
The Richardson business, Marcus Books, became the visible face of that Victorian Square. Thirty years later, the same banking misbehavior put the building into foreclosure and bankruptcy despite the ongoing business. The U.S. Justice Department has entered consent agreements with Wells Fargo and Bank of America specifically for racial discrimination in mortgage lending in the San Francisco-Oakland area, collecting fines of $175 million apiece. Additional cases are pending, along with the $25 billion settlement announced with state attorneys general.
The presence of Marcus Books, particularly following the closure of the other 50 year old business on Fillmore Street, New Chicago Barber Shop, is the “idiomatic message” to all the survivors of the Jonestown massacre and redevelopment that the commitments of the city are being respected.
“External structural factors” such as financial misbehavior, or as Mary Rogers described it, “a few power-hungry or money-hungry downtown businessmen” can not override those sacred commitments.
Given that the City and County of San Francisco as the successor to the Redevelopment Agency first displaced the Richardsons through eminent domain, then displaced their building through eminent domain on the suspect theory of eliminating blight, the historic record indicates that the real intent was the removal of African-American businesses and residents from the Western Addition.
The continuing danger to community mental health from the unhealed wounds of Jonestown is a compelling state interest for the City and County to act against real dangers. Visible signs of the “root shock” Fullilove describes are the majority of African-Americans among inmates in San Francisco jails, the overrepresentation in all categories of mental illness, disparities in heart disease, cancer, and AIDS and the high rates of poor achievement among African-American youth.
For those who suggest those problems are typical, we have a controlled experiment which shows the opposite. In 1963, when the African-American community was still largely intact physically and emotionally, the young people staged the United San Francisco Freedom Movement for 2 ½ years and later the San Francisco State student strike. An incoming Dr. Nathan Hare would express amazement at the self-confidence of the black students in San Francisco who “thought they could do anything.”
Fullilove defines a healthy community as one where many generations of families are able to thrive and develop.
In addition to the building, the Richardson family, where four generations continue a family concern, is a continuing monument to the norm which San Francisco must take steps to restore, given the role of public policy in the environmental damage which we have seen.
Since 1854, when the first building erected by African-Americans was the Athenian Literary Society at 917 Washington St., there has been a continuous literary presence by African-Americans in the city, with a host of significant works of literature, most since the openign of Marcus Books.
Using eminent domain to return the property at 1714 Fillmore to the uses for which it was saved in the first place is not only advisable, but the only morally acceptable choice.
The funds available from the mortgage settlement should be used to fund necessary costs, or the City Attorney should bring litigation to recover the impact of the mortgage crisis on the city, particularly such quantifiable impacts as health costs and displaced families as well as preserving existing neighborhoods which were targeted.
Additionally, the HRC should go on record as calling for or researching itself each of the land disposition agreements for each parcel of redeveloped property; identifying the continuing streams of tax increment associated with those parcels and making that information available for a policy discussion of how those funds best contribute to the preservation of the neighborhoods which bore the brunt of the misguided public policies.
Values of properties which had been held in black hands for more than 50 years have skyrocketed as much as 1,500 times in the past 40 years, a value which would have accrued to those families had redevelopment not intervened.
Most of the reasons that San Francisco has prospered have been steps which were taken contrary to land use policy, like preserving the cable cars.
Without such a history, those who laid in front of bulldozers and their families are watching those with no connection to that history reap the benefits of their sacrifices.
Fullilove, Mindy Thompson, M.D. Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What Can Be Done About It
Wallace, Rodrick; Fullilove, Mindy Thompson; and Flisher, Alan J. “AIDS, Violence and Behavioral Coding: Information Theory, Risk Behavior and Dynamic Process on Core Groupo SocioGeographic Networks
Templeton, John William “History of Environmental Justice” multimedia presentation, EPA Region IX Feb. 2012
Templeton, John William Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco
Templeton, John William “San Francisco’s Fillmore District: The Cutting Edge of Black Urban Removal,” Chapter 7 in Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vol. 3, 1950-2000
After driving across the country to deliver poetry in the 1930s, Langston Hughes had experienced every indignity a black motorist could imagine. But on a referral from Arkansas, he received a letter in Los Angeles from arts patron Noel Sullivan inviting Hughes to come to San Francisco to stay in his mansion and write to his heart’s content.
Likewise, Dr. Howard Thurman wrote about segregation in American churches, but it was an invitation from San Francisco to actually create an intentionally integrated church that caused him to leave his faculty post at Howard University School of Religion.
Using 2 Cor 4:15 as my text, I used both men’s experiences as examples of how the Divine works through people to transform realities such as racial discrimination. It was part of a four-week series on race at Calvary Presbyterian Church in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, just blocks away from where Hugnes and Thurman encountered their saints.
The clear implication is that anyone can be and should consider themselves the face of God for all they encounter.
Silicon Valley has botched the solar revolution, letting millions of taxpayer dollars go down the drain with spectacular bankruptcies.
But atop the Town of Los Gatos police station is a new chapter, written on the East Coast, that may finally match the potential of using the sun’s energy directly with the reality.
Perhaps it is because Dr. Reginald Parker knows the code for green — 510 — the number that corresponds with that wavelength in the electro magnetic spectrum. So he’s showing how to make money from solar power first before throwing millions away.
The founder of 510Nano, one of the 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology, was in Los Gatos, where our good friend Jan Hutchins was mayor back in the day, to launch the first solar farm of Silicon Valley Solar.He is making the town money with a 20-year power participation deal where the power is sold to local utilities or used internally for a fraction of what the utilities would charge.
He broke bread with San Francisco real estate investors Roland Willis and Clarence Williams to look at prospects for creating jobs and wealth in the open spaces of the city’s Bayview/Hunters Point district. 510Nano is not just installing panels, but has patents for a quantum leap in performance as a manufacturing play.
Other solar farms are going up in Jamaica, North Carolina and on the African continent.
Chuck Collins came through the door shaking his head, saying to no one in particular, “No one ever had anything bad to say about her.” Everyone in earshot nodded their head in agreement.
Rev. Aurelious Walker set the tone for an extraordinary memorial for Linda Brooks Burton by simply stating that her life was its own eulogy. Everyone who followed was similarly brief.
Linda, for 15 years librarian at the Bayview branch library of the San Francisco public library, had impacted so many people so profoundly that they didn’t need to embellish it.
In life, she gave them a voice and a place to feel special.
One would have been hard pressed to check out a book for 25 miles around with the overflow crowd of librarians, all shocked that such a vigorous advocate for literacy has passed at such a young age. Equally present were the people of Bayview, generations of which credited her with improving their lives.
We met when I curated an exhibition in the new Main Library in its first year in 1996 entitled Our Roots Run Deep. Although she was the newly named Bayview librarian, she was clearly the citywide advocate for African-American literature and history anywhere in the system, taking on the values of pioneers like Effie Lee Morris and Josephine Cole and Dr. Arthur Coleman. She always had a positive answer for expanding that presence, which also meant one could not say no to her.
At her urging, I took on a board spot on the Friends of the Library to make sure the funding for those initiatives was available. As chair of the Friends’ library services committee, I got to make sure those issues were kept up front. We also had to raise money for renovating 26 branches. It bothered me that Bayview, where the need was greatest, was at the end of the schedule. In fact, the money ran out before the construction began.
But for Linda, that was an opportunity. She pressed me into service to testify for a supplemental appropriation of $1 million to actually expand and build a new library.
Now that gleaming new facility is open and active. Hundreds of people joined in a petition to name that building in honor of her. If you haven’t signed it yet, go by the Bayview branch library and make your wishes known.
Frank Holland and Clint Reilly had been wondering for years about the name of the street next to their iconic Merchants Exchange building. What they found was so astounding that an amazing new work of sculpture has been added to downtown San Francisco.
But, there was even more, I noted while discussing the inscription atop the historic building in the Clinton Reilly and Associates office. They had collected many of the facts, but I wanted them to understand what the facts meant.
In my own case, it had taken almost 20 years to put the pieces together. But the bottom line is that this sailor who spoke six languages put his own fortune on the line to make California part of the United States. He was also the indispensable hub of commerce for a wide swath of northern California. In fact, John Sutter was so indebted to William Alexander Leidesdorff that he offered him half of the gold findings at Sutter’s Mill to resolve his debts.
I’m looking forward to the full story getting out. Stay tuned.
The Sisterhood author Nichol Bradford, the Olivia Pope of China as one of the highest ranking leaders in the gaming industry, is encouraging young people to follow in her footsteps as a supporter of Code.org’s campaign to have everyone try writing computer code for at least an hour this fall. She encourages her fellow selectees of the 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology to join in the initiative.
ReUNION’s AlGRhythm program highlights 30 African-American software standouts during a six-week narrative called Get in the Game in November and December. From legends like Roy Clay Sr., who began programming when Bill Gates was two months old, John Henry Thompson, developer of the programming language Lingo, and the late Ron Jones, who created the raster image processor for large-format graphics to today’s innovators like Dr. Juan Gilbert, star of the new webcast LabDaze, we’ll show how numbers are essential to careers.
As we told a group of Alameda County Juvenile Hall residents, if you don’t know math, you’re getting played.
“Is this a black bank,” asked Dr. James Taylor as he handed me a calendar.
I took note that Dr. Henry Lucas was chairman and remembered the name from helping to draft his obituary. Other familiar names were on the bank board. But I also noted the drawing on the cover of five houses on the 800 block of Steiner Street.
Dr. Taylor, chair of poltical science at the University of San Francisco, and Naomi Jelks, newly named African-American librarian at the San Francisco Main Library, had joined me in the basement of a Western Addition house to go through a collection of 20,000 photos and artifacts.
It was an example of why we’ve presented the Preserving California Black Heritage conference for the past seven years, to show families and property owners the value of the legacy that they hold on to. Every year, we’ve reached out to the community to turn up old photographs and other materials which oftentimes they didn’t not realize the value of. We held a Community History Day at Sam Jordan’s Bar in 2010 and at George Washington Carver School in 2011. We also presented a documentary The King Behind King, Bridges, Chavez and Mandela about the impact of LeRoy King and other members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
These materials can truly be priceless. The John Pittman Collection at New York University; the Stewart-Flippin Collection at the Moorland-Spingarn Collection at Howard University, the Abajian Collection at the Bancroft Library at UC-Berkeley, the Leidesdorff personal papers at the Huntington Library and the Dr. Daniel Collins papers at the John Hope Franklin Collection at Duke University are all collections from black San Franciscans which enrich scholarship.
Jeremiah B. Sanderson’s papers, at the Bancroft, were narrowly saved when they were moved to the library just months before the house they had rested in for decades burned down.
As we complete the African-American Freedom Trail, we are seeking out such hidden collections which show a side of history which has been excluded and misinterpreted.
For example, the houses on the cover of the bank calendar have become known as the “Painted Ladies.” Dr. Taylor and I rode by and as I predicted, hundreds of people were standing in Alamo Square Park, looking at those five houses. None was aware that the entire neighborhood had been owned by black property owners well into the 1970s.
The houses became a tourist draw because of the show Full House in 1984, but this calendar was well before that.
We’ll talk about the importance of black owned banks in San Francisco since 1857 when we open Preserving California Black History Friday at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. and we’ll show the film “Decision on the Streets” about the United San Francisco Freedom Movement. Afterwards, we’ll go to the street on Nob Hill named for Mary Ellen Pleasant and take a look at the murals depicting the story which gave California its name. Registration is at blackmoney.com
Don’t miss the treasures of heritage.
In 1963, Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett praised two young leaders of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement at his annual civic awards with “You are the one’s we’ve been waiting for. You’ve achieved more in the last two weeks than our methods have in 15 years.”
One of them, Dr. Oba T’Shaka, professor emeritus of black studies at San Francisco State, is an honored guest for the opening of the 7th annual Preserving California Black Heritage conference Friday at 3:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. There will be a screening of “Decision in the Streets”, a film by Harvey Richards about the most extensive and most successful civil rights movement outside the South.
The other object of Goodlett’s praise, Tamam Tracy Moncur, is also featured in the exhibition Students and Scholars Marching for Civil Rights: the 50th anniversary of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement, which will be on display in the hotel. Register for the conference at blackmoney.com.
The most important influence in a black child’s life can often be the grandparents.
That’s true, even with both parents around. In my remarks to Church Women United Saturday at Third Baptist Church, I discuss the special role that grandparents play as the transmitters of culture and values.
Unfortunately, we live in a society, and particularly in a city, that does not value the black family. Every message directed to our youth suggests “Don’t listen to them, take the quick and easy road.” As we know, that’s a road that leads to disaster.
I’ve been blessed with two great parents, my late father, and my mother, who is actually hospitalized in Iredell County, N.C. today. Yet my fondest memories are of my grandparents, Grampa Jack on my father’s side and John William Tatum, on my mother’s side. I was actually named for him. Although he died when I was eight years old, I have almost total recall on every conversation we ever had. I remember us sitting on a swinging aluminum couch on the porch of his farm when I was five years old, telling him about my plans to become President. It was only later that I realized what it must have been like for him in 1960 to support those dreams. In 1960, no black person had even voted in North Carolina for 55 years.
I wrote my first novel, Grampa Jack’s Secret, about my other grandfather. It told our family history through nine generations all the way back to Mali in the 1400s. The literary device I used was the relationship between father, son and grandson in each chapter. That’s how important I know that relationship is.
For my own mom, I watch how my nieces and nephews and grandnieces and nephews are pretty blase about their parents, but their whole bodies light up when they see “Nanny.” When my son had a surprise 30th birthday party, we got the biggest response when his grandmother stepped out. (see picture above)
Black children today are in a crisis, here and every other major metropolis in the country. That’s why I started ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage, an instructional television network. We’ve designed it based on what we have learned and studied about the relationship between children and their grandparents.
In 25 years of textbook publishing and teacher training, I’ve tested over and over again an almost perfect way to have a great classroom environment. Know every child’s grandparents. Use their lives as the canvas upon which you paint lessons.
About 10 years ago, I was in a special ed classroom at Denman Middle School. I suggested to the teacher that she ask each student to find out what their oldest living relative was doing when they were 12–who was President; what they wore and what kind of music they listened to. About a week later, she called to say that she had never seen more parent engagement and it was the most successful assignment she had ever given.
Several years ago, we tested the pedagogy with a group of teenagers at Potrero Hill Apartments. Before we met any of them, I sought out and had a drink at Sam Jordan’s with the community grandmother. I told her that we wanted to show the children how to get jobs in biotechnology and health care. She was excited and said we wouldn’t have any problems at all. During the six weeks we worked with children who had not seen success anywhere else in their schooling, the only discipline we ever had to do was to drop the names of their grandparents. Their final assignment was to do an oral and multimedia presentation of their work to their family.
A lot of kids may not know their grandparents for various reasons. Some of them know them very well, because the grandparent is also filling the role of parent. Through ReUNION, we’ve designed video lessons which convey that same sense of belonging that grandparents uniquely convey.
We are working with the Dr. George P. Davis Multipurpose Senior Citizens Center to create a cookbook and community history in time for the next Black Cuisine Festival. We’re involving students from schools in the area with the project. This is the kind of exercise we’re building around the country.
The answer to what ails black children is not closing schools, locking them up in prison or sending them off to war. People who don’t understand the communities they live in are only making the problems worse. We believe that grandfathers like Oscar James, who organized HP Uniti, which is a group of Hunter Point men who act as community grandfathers, and grandmothers like Espanola Jackson, have the respect and the wisdom to lead young people in the right direction.
If you have recipes, we encourage you to participate. You can also help by encouraging the leadership of the school district to support ReUNION in our schools. We’ve asked the Superintendent’s Zone to provide it for all their classrooms and we’re reaching out to every principal in the district.
When schools are not reaching out to you, we encourage you to work with us so we can help you be visible.
I try to meditate and pray at the Martin Luther King Jr. Waterfall in Yerba Buena Gardens as often as possible. This week, I have a goal to do it every day. Like the Memorial on the Mall in Washington, it is infused with eight of his quotes, including several which are rarely cited.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
There is a reason that African-Americans in the throes of slavery sang, “I ain’t gonna study war no more.”
To be truly seen in the legacy of his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners Dr. Ralph Bunche, who brought peace to the Middle East; Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama must adapt their tactics.
From the roof of the Masonic Auditorium, site of many civil rights fundraising events with the likes of Dick Gregory and Harry Belafonte during the 1950s and 1960s, I was able to point to African-American Freedom Trail sites around Nob Hill on a sky-blue day in San Francisco.
A massive funeral was going on across the street at Grace Cathedral, built to replace the Crocker mansion. Edward Crocker was the lawyer that Mary Ellen Pleasant and George Washington Dennis hired to defend Archy Lee from the application of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1857.
On the other side of Grace Cathedral is Pleasant Street, the street named for Mrs. Pleasant, the Underground Railroad operative from New Bedford who passed for white for a decade while accumulating a fortune during the Gold Rush that she used to fund John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. The placement of the street also gives an indication of her stature in the community. Similarly, Leidesdorff Street down the hill shows how favorably he was viewed.
Nob Hill is known for the “Big Four”, the quartet which parlayed about $400,000 into ownership of the transcontinental railroad with millions in federal subsidies. Each had a mansion on the highest point in San Francisco’s downtown. In 1869, the city was far and away the largest on the West Coast and the hub of commerce for the Pacific Coast.
Long before then, they had taken a bet on whether America would stretch across the continent or split up into fractious sections. James deTarr Abajian, compiler of Blacks and Their Contributions to the American West: A Bibliography and Union List of Library Holdings, a compendium of every print reference on African-Americans from the 1500s to 1970, noted that they were subscribers to Frederick Douglass’ Paper in the 1850s.
It was risky because Southern sympathizers led by Peter Burnett dominated California’s state government from 1851 until the election of 1862. I hold that the battle for California and its gold was the most important battle of the Civil War. Newly-elected President Abraham Lincoln certainly felt that way, sending law partner Edward Baker, also a counsel for Archy Lee, to the Golden State as soon as he was elected to keep California in the Union.
The roof of the Masonic Auditorium is a good vantage point to see the physical imprint the Big Four continue to leave on Nob Hill. Next door is the Huntington Hotel, on the site of Collis P. Huntington’s mansion. The Huntington Library in San Marino contains many of the historic artifacts of the period, including the personal papers of Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff.
In the next block is the Mark Hopkins Hotel, which took a starring role in my book Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vol. 1, 1500-1900 as the home of the Queen Califia murals in the Room of the Dons.
As California Street begins to slope downward, the Stanford Court Hotel acknowledges the site of Leland Stanford’s manse. Stanford was the first pro-Union governor elected in California in 1862 and in 1863 he signed the legislation ending the “right of testimony” law which prevented Asians, Native Americans and African-Americans from testifying in court.
During the “Big Four and the Underground Railroad” the seventh annual Preserving California Black Heritage conference Sept. 20-22, we’ll explore how this history impact the entire American narrative.
Find many more details in Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco.
“Thomas Starr King and the California Abolition Movement” is my topic on Nov. 8 during the Grand Lodge of California’s two-day symposium on the legacy of the man credited with keeping California in the Union during the Civil War.
The venue is Starr King’s church, First Unitarian Universalist, on Cathedral Hill where his crypt is in the front yard on Franklin Street. A founder of a pro-Union lodge, Oriental, in San Francisco, Starr King became the Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge.
Among his early speeches were appearances at Hannibal Lodge No. 1, the first Prince Hall lodge in the West; Third Baptist, Union Bethel A.M.E. and First A.M.E. Zion. First A.M.E. Zion was colloquially known as “Starr King A.M.E. Zion Church” into the 20th century because the close ties.
Gold Rush Abolitionists: the California Movement to Emancipation, my exhibition on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, will be displayed during the events.
SAN FRANCISCO — The expert on San Francisco African-American history will show how misguided, and often malicious city policies are contributing to the most severe outmigration of any large metropolitan city in the country.
John William Templeton, author of Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco, describes on Monday, Sept. 9 how the city’s black population, 12 percent of the total in 1960, can rebound and flourish to the Black American Congress of San Francisco at 2 Sadowa St at 7 p.m.
“Through deliberate bureaucratic manuevers, a lack of transparency and sometimes policy fraud, our citizens do not receive the services they are entitled to,” says the author of Year of Jubilee: State of Black Business, 10th edition. “However, there is a history of community-based leadership which has been at the heart of the progress of black San Franciscans.”
Calvary Presbyterian Church, 2515 Fillmore St. celebrates the history of African-American entertainment during a special Calvary Jazz Worship Service on Oct. 6, World Communion Sunday.
John Turk and the Change Band, plus vocalist Cheryl Turk, from Glide Memorial United Methodist Church join the Dave Scott Quartet in a program of jazz and spiritual music at 6 p.m.
At 5 p.m., a pre-worship education opportunity features John William Templeton, author of Cakewalk: an historical novel about the unsung creators of jazz. Templeton also will present his exhibition JazzGenesis: San Francisco and the Birth of Jazz, which displayed for three years in the Visitor Center of San Francisco Travel and the choreopoem More Mo’ Than You Know, an interpretive history of the Fillmore District commissioned by the San Francisco Housing Development Corp.
Templeton also appears at the 9 a.m. adult education hour in a discussion on “How Langston Hughes and Dr. Howard Thurman Found Divinity in Pacific Heights” and for questions and answers during the 10 a.m. worship hour.
They were only pre-schoolers, but the youngsters in Mo’Magic took ownership of Ella Hill Hutch. ”She’s ours,” they exclaimed.
Fifty years before, another set of young people took the leadership of Ms. Hutch and turned it into the United San Francisco Freedom Movement.
The elementary students, followed soon after by high school aged, learned that it had been young people not much older than themselves who led the movement while viewing Students and Scholars Marching for Civil Rights: the 50th anniversary of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement at the Holiday Inn-Civic Center.
A busy schedule of events will let the public know about the proposed African-American Freedom Trail in San Francisco and the nationwide instructional network ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage.
Students and Scholars Marching for Civil Rights: the 50th anniversary of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement, sponsored by ParkSFO, H.C.A. & Associates, CPA, Sheba Lounge, Holiday Inn-Civic Center, and Cafe Golo, is the focus of several events.
Participants from Mo’Magic, a youth initiative housed at the Ella Hill Hutch Center on McAllister St., will view the display at the Holiday Inn-Civic Center Friday, Aug. 30 at 4:30 p.m. Ms. Hutch is described as the “mother of the Bay Area civil rights movement” in the exhibition, scheduled to run for eight months in hotels across the city. One of the objectives is to interest young people in hospitality careers.
The exhibit moves to the Fairmont Hotel on Sept. 15. A film by Harvey Richards, “Decision in the Streets” will be shown at the Fairmont on Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. as part of the seventh annual Preserving California Black Heritage conference.
On Sept. 9, curator John William Templeton discusses “Reversing the Outmigration of Blacks from San Francisco” to the Black American Congress of San Francisco at Holy Missionary Community Baptist Church, 2 Sadowa St. at 6 p.m. He will describe how the African-American Freedom Trail will bring economic development and neighborhood stability to communities under pressure from gentrification and displacement.
He also continues those themes on KPOO-FM 89.5 on Thursday, Sept. 12 on the Connecting the Dots program.
For Church Women United at Third Baptist Church on Saturday, Sept. 14, Templeton explains how Parents and Grandparents Can Tackle the Achievement Gap by describing how ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage creates intergenerational learning exercises that value community strengths.
At First Unitarian Universalist Church on Sept. 22, he continues the theme of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement by describing San Francisco’s response to the Birmingham bombing which killed four little girls in 1963.
Templeton, a Presbyterian ruling elder serving as commissioner in the Synod of the Pacific, also talks about the nexus of race and religion on World Communion Sunday on Oct. 6 at Calvary Presbyterian Church in the adult education, main service and jazz worshop at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO — More than 300 African-Americans shipped off to sea on the Alaskan canning runs in 1920, aboard ships like the Balcutha, a National Historic Landmark in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
Ranger David Belfrey said they and other minorities were trapped in a contract labor system that gave them $175 for a six month voyage, but charged them $75 for clothes before they left the port of San Francisco. Plus they had to bribe the contract agent just to be considered. If they spoke out, they were barred from working again.
Belfrey related the history to a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about “a just law administered unjustly” in 1963 during a bell ringing ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The bell aboard the Balcutha was rung at noon, like bells across the country during the Let Freedom Ring observance.
I noted that unsung workers like those sailors are part of the undiscovered African-American maritime heritage in the San Francisco Bay during following remarks. I referred to the prospect of military action in Syria and asked how likely it would be that billionaires like Larry Ellison or Bill Gates would offer to pay for the military campaign. After everyone shook their heads, I pointed out that Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff actually went into $50,000 debt to finance provisions for the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps during the Mexican War.
Leidesdorff began sailing from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) to San Francisco in 1837, building the first shipping warehouse on the waterfront and sailing the first steamship into the harbor.
But far into the 20th century, black maritime workers in the port were fighting for equal treatment. A. Philip Randolph, initiator of the 1963 March on Washington, gave one of his first major speeches at the Hotel Whitcomb in San Francisco in 1935, advocating integration of labor unions and gaining the recognition of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. It would take almost 40 years for his ideas to reach the Lincoln Memorial.
Ranger Denise McEvoy also discussed the role of Capt. Michael Healy,commander of the Revenue Cutter Bear, which sailed out of Oakland home port and was the law in Alaska. She noted that Healy forced covenants made with Alaskan natives to be enforced equally, one of the reasons that Alaskan natives did not face the extermination of other Native Americans.
As many speakers on the National Mall observed, the struggle for freedom is ongoing and can face reverses. But a knowledge of the battles already won can empower future generations to continue moving forward.
If you are a California social science teacher seeking cultural competency leading up to the anniversary of the first public school in California, by the African-American ship captain, merchant and diplomat — William Alexander Leidesdorff — on April 3, 1848 –or just have your curiosity piqued by the African-American Freedom Trail exhibition at the Black Coalition on AIDS, get the Queen Calafia classroom kit
- Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4
- Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in California
- Black Heritage as Gap Closer
For entrepreneurs wishing to use our CATAPULTECHR advisory services, including the fabulous resources of Year of Jubilee: State of Black Business, 10th edition and Silicon Ceiling 13: Equal Opportunity and High Technology, plus entrepreneurship coaching leading up to National Black Business Month in August