The fixes instead of the fixers


In my favorite TV show, Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope breaks into hysterical laughter upon learning that practically everyone around her is a murderer, including her own mother and father. “What’s the point?” she exclaimed on ABC’s Scandal.

In San Francisco’s real life version, yesterdays Chronicle asked how a former bank teller became president of the school board, and then a high priced consultant for some of the city’s richest companies. He and a state senator were recently arrested with dozens in an indictment that gives Shonda Rimes a run for her money.

With the wide array of competing interests and high stakes, San Francisco’s one party state makes Afghanistan look organized.

However the fixer scenario in both plots is common to black communities around the planet. Whereever one goes, there is someone whose sole function is to keep things quiet while such abuses as predatory lending and inadequate education proceed to the detriment of the black masses. On the same day, Charlotte’s mayor was arrested and forced to resign.

Folks who actually have solutions get ignored as long as these fixers are willing to take a few dollars. While legitimate efforts have had doors slammed in their faces, jaw dropping sums are spent on “consultants.”

That’s why for the past year, I have found the almost completely unknown United San Francisco Freedom Movement from 1963 to 1965 so compelling. Its leadership was raised to a high moral standard to serve the entire community interest without egos. They did research, determined the needs and fought for the solutions they identified.

As we have presented National Black Business Month for the past 10 years, I’ve always found that asking someone to read our State of Black Business report is a great screening tool. If they’re not interested in the research, they’re just interested in themselves.

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Cadillac sit-ins, the penultimate event of the Auto Row campaign which shut down Van Ness Ave.   My documentary The African American Freedom Trail and the companion exhibition premiere at 4 p.m. at the Black Coalition on AIDS, 601 Cesar Chavez.

Since last August, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the principals of the movement, who still retain their same values, are fighting for the same causes and are still shy around the limelight. They went to jail proudly in 1964 because they knew their cause was just .

But when outmigration and unemployment shackle communities although resources are available, we must insist like 50 years ago that the powerful do more than grease a few palms.

The 375 employer agreements achieved by the United San Francisco Freedom Movement are an eloquent testimony to what can happen when the focus is on the fix rather than the fixer.

Auto Row 50 anniversary premieres documentary April 11


The premiere of the ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage documentary The African-American Freedom Trail marks the 50th anniversary of the Auto Row demonstrations which changed American industry for a generation by opening up the Big Three automakers to fair employment and dealership practices.

it screens on Friday, April 11 at 4 p.m. in the Black Coalition on AIDS, 601 Cesar Chavez. Admission is $15 for the screening;$35 for the screening and the companion book Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco.

On April 11, 1964, Dr. Nathaniel Burbridge,  a University of California San Francisco pharmacology professor serving as president of the San Francisco NAACP, led a demonstration which resulted in 227 arrests in the Cadillac Agency at 1000 Van Ness Ave. Two days later, similar demonstrations were planned at dealerships in 35 cities.  An agreement was announced at the front of 1000 Van Ness.



California’s first school

Learning Through Leidesdorff. Marking anniversary of California's first public school from the statue of Capt. William A. Leidesdorff. Lance Burton photos.

Learning Through Leidesdorff. Marking anniversary of California’s first public school from the statue of Capt. William A. Leidesdorff. Lance Burton photos.

A Man Without Boundaries is depicted in this plaque further down Leidesdorff Street. Lance Burton photo

A Man Without Boundaries is depicted in this plaque further down Leidesdorff Street. Lance Burton photo

The first school, dedicated by Leidesdorfff on April 3, 1848 as chair of the school committee.

The first school, dedicated by Leidesdorfff on April 3, 1848 as chair of the school committee. Ethel Konopka and Nancy Kraus of Sojourn to the Past take in the insights.

Trail gives new sense of belonging

Langston Hughes spent time in San Francisco with patron Noel Sullivan in the mid-1930s, engaging with major entertainers and the labor movement.

Langston Hughes spent time in San Francisco with patron Noel Sullivan in the mid-1930s, engaging with major entertainers and the labor movement.

In an initiative to demonstrate the civic, economic and personal benefits of restoring a sense of belonging for African-Americans — 100,000 strong in San Francisco from the 1950s through the 1980s, ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage has reached a three year agreement to present the African-American Freedom Trail to the 16 million visitors to San Francisco through the San Francisco Travel website.

An exhibition on the trail is currently at the Black Coalition on AIDS, 601 Cesar Chavez.  A companion documentary premieres Friday, April 11 at 4 p.m. in the BCOA headquarters. In a talk at San Francisco Travel Wednesday, historian John William Templeton explained the psycho-social impact of the many unique and counter-stereotypical aspects of local heritage.

On Thursday, he flabbergasted participants on a tour of the anniversary of the state’s first public school by describing the multi-faceted impact of Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff, whose new life size statue is in the midst of the Financial District

In May, San Francisco Travel President Joe d’Alessandro will join a group of radio listeners from Philadelphia’s WURD who are taking a tour of the African-American Freedom Trail.
A brochure on the trail was distributed in November at the Coalition of Black Meeting Planners conferenceo rave reviews.

Three generations of champions

Contractor Ian Booker views 1930s clippings of his national boxing champion father Earle Booker, a member of the USF Athletic Hall of Fame.

Contractor Ian Booker views 1930s clippings of his national boxing champion father Earle Booker, a member of the USF Athletic Hall of Fame.

I didn’t know that Earle Booker won the intercollegiate boxing title nationally as a student at the University of San Francisco and was headed to the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936 except for an untimely eye injury–until I met his son Ian Booker.

It was just another example of the overlooked history we show in the ReUNION: Education- Arts-Heritage documentary The African-American Freedom Trail, premiering Friday, April 11 at 4 p.m. at the Black Coalition on AIDS, 601 Cesar Chavez.

When I visited Booker’s office, at his construction company, Eastmont Builders, I was able to see where he got the winning attitude to succeed in business for more than a decade as a Class A and B contractor.

Earle Booker was inducted into the University of San Francisco Athletic Hall of Fame in 1959 along with K.C. Jones and Bill Russell of basketball fame and football pioneers Ollie Matson and Burl Toler.  In the same year, the two highest paid players in their sports, Willie Mays and Wilt Chamberlain, both played for San Francisco teams.

Another famous family boxer was Earle’s brother, Hilton “Eddie” Booker, a light heavyweight professional considered one of the Murderers Row boxers in the 1940s and now installed in the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Ian Booker would become a champion wrestler at Castlemont High School, and his brother Kim Booker a national champion in boxing, followed by his state champion wrestler son Ian in the 1990s. That sense of belonging at the top is a characteristic of what historian Dr.  Douglas Daniels calls the “pioneer urbanites” throughout local history.  Booker continued to coach wrestling at Oakland Tech and for freestyle teams, producing an Olympian wrestler Steven Abas.

Having spent much of his life developing young people, Booker is troubled by the lack of direction he is seeing among many young men. He believes a knowledge of the accomplisments and attitudes of prior generations is essential.

Taking the revitalization of Oakland into his own hands, he’s purchased abandoned properties through tax lien auctions to to clean up neighborhoods and train young people in construction, literally by example. “When they see me working on a house, they are coming to me filled with questions about how they can get work,” said Booker.  “Every abandoned house is like a tooth that has been pulled. It’s an open sore.”
With California reviewing Prop. 209 again, the multiple bottom line benefits of community-minded black businesses like Eastmont Builders become an important consideration..
“As a Class A and B contractor, I can build anything,” said Booker, who holds a degree in mathematics from San Francisco State. “It’s satisfying to go by a finished product and think I did that.”
He is equally proud of his grandparent’s legendary exploits during World War II. From their house at Baker and California Sts., “they operated an Underground Railroad for Japanese Americans who did not want to go to internment camps. We had lots of rooms and they could hide until they made arrangements to go somewhere else.”
These are among the important milestones along the African American Freedom Trail.

Brew and Que

Brew and Que

Since 1973, Everett and Jones has been a Bay Area institution for its barbecue, but it also has.been a pioneer in craft brewing with its Saucy Sista Ale. Check it out on the last weekend of Black Food Month along with hundreds of other venues in Say Grace and Wipe Yo Hands: BlackRestaurant.Net’s Guide to America’s Black Restaurants.

Food connects America and Africa


Craves restaurant in Charleston is a good place to begin recognizing the centrality of African-American food to American culture.  The Low Country cuisine is a direct retention of African culture.

Author John William Templeton starts there in Say Grace and Wipe Yo’ Hands: The BlackRestaurant.NET Guide to America’s Black Restaurants.    To underscore his theme, he launched Black Food Month in March to follow up on the impact of National Black Business Month, which he co-founded in 2004.

“More than one million African-Americans work in food service, we generate $6 billion from food-related businesses and $75 billion we spend on food each year is our second largest expenditure,” says the veteran historian and business journalist.

In Say Grace, he answers the age-old question for black travelers: “Where can I get some of our food?”  More than 500 ot the top locations in states across the nation are cited in the book, which grew out of a National Black Business Month exhibition in 2005 where he located all 60 black restaurants in San Francisco

The South Carolina connection continues as the most famous name in black food, the late Sylvia Woods, migrated from there to Harlem where she launched Sylvia’s in 1962.  Now, her foods are in grocery stores across the planet.  It is a path that many more African-American entrepreneurs are following as they lift their sights beyond having just one restaurant, to creating chains, writing cookbooks, producing television shows and filling supermarket aisles.

Templeton sees the current generation of black chefs restoring the prominence of blacks in American cooking in the earliest days of the republic, when the first caterers were black businessmen in Philadelphia.

During March, when eating out is a national pastime for spring break, college basketball playoffs, and Easter, Templeton encourages all foodies to consciously seek out at least one African-American food business–a restaurant, caterer, manufacturer–each day of March. It is the same 31 Ways 31 Days approach used during National Black Business Month in August.

Say Grace is designed to facilitate that patronage with locatons of the largest African-American chains, a breakdown of African-American franchisees, African,Caribbean, vegetarian, seafood, barbecue and chicken eateries, a list of black food manufacturers and notable celebrity eateries. It also lists the Top 50 Names in Black Food and gives a list of suggested activities for each day of March.

Templeton brings a rich background to the field.  His father was a submarine cook in the Navy during World War II and managed a restaurant for several decades in North Carolina. He’s been a journalist for 41 years, editing the first black newspaper to have a centennial edition and serving as the first black editor of a business newspaper at the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

In his hometown of San Francisco, he recently completed the African-American Freedom Trail, an exhibit and brochure in conjunction with San Francisco Travel to highlight African-American attractions in the city leading to upcoming legislation to create the first such trail in the Western states.

In Jet on the 4th of July

In Jet on the 4th of July

Greg and Karen Johnson unearthed this 1983 article and photo on the centennial of the country’s oldest black newspaper when I was editor of the Richmond AFRO-AMERICAN and the Richmond Planet. Looking at the whole issue, I found myself fascinated by what else was happening: Michael Jackson releasing Billie Jean, Stevie Wonder at a new record label, The Associated Press settlement and the reunification of the Presbyterian church.

Collard greens pesto and andouille sausage

Michelle Wilson, founder of Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles, is inspired by her grandmother, but taking black food in exciting new directions with such dishes as her collard greens pesto. Here, she welcomes National Black Business Month co-founders Fred Jordan and John William Templeton.

Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles owner and chef Michelle Wilson offered her latest creation–collard greens pesto–during the Love and Basketball festival at Ella Hill Hutch Center Saturday.

A long-time supporter of National Black Business Month, she’s forged in daring new directions with African-American cuisine.  Like jazz, its attributes blend with many other traditions.

London native David Lawrence, chef and co-owner of 1300, also shared a sports-watching favorite, andouille sausage with his personally-made creole mustard, for the audience.   Lawrence also described the experience of representing the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl Weekend in New York as chefs from each league city raised money to support foodbanks nationally.

Both are located at the only intersection in San Francisco with black-owned food businesses on all four corners, Eddy and Fillmore, one of the details one can discover in Say Grace and Wipe Yo’ Hands: the BlackRestaurant.NET Guide to America’s Black Restaurants.

On Soul Food Saturday, March 15, visit them and 800 other restaurants/manufacturers listed in the book.  Eat and tweet your picture to blkbizmonth as we document the flavors and economic impact of this $6 billion sector and encourage more of the $75 billion in African-American food expenditures to flow through these innovators.

Buy great books during April

AutoRow50April is a month to celebrate innovation in music and industry with ASPIRE SAN FRANCISCO books. Cakewalk: an historical novel about the unsung creators of jazz music is a great selection for Jazz Appreciation Month.

Silicon Ceiling 13: Equal Opportunity & High Technology continues the series that has been the bible for African-Americans in technology since 1998, cited in Congressional hearings,floor speeches and by Presidential candidates. This year, we continue our thrust on innovators with the capacity to create jobs as we observe Black Innovation Month with the Red, Black and Green investor showcase on April 23 in San Francisco at 9′a.m. For an invitation, call 415-272-7209.

New book has more than 800 venues with location data and history

New book has more than 800 venues with location data and history

For Black Food Month 2014 in March, purchase Say Grace and Wipe Yo’ Hands: the BlackRestaurant.NET Guide to America’s Black Restaurants.
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Holding the first edition of Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, 1500-1900, the book that freed Queen Calafia

Holding the first edition of Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, 1500-1900, the book that freed Queen Calafia


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

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I answer a question from the audience.  Photo ©2010 Walter Atkins

I answer a question from the audience. Photo ©2010 Walter Atkins

To learn about the real story of how jazz was created during Jazz Appreciation Month, get your copy of Cakewalk: an historical novel about the unsung creators of jazz.
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For entrepreneurs wishing to use our CATAPULTECHR advisory services during Black Innovation Month in April and Black Food Month in March, 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
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For tours of San Francisco along the African-American Freedom Trail, book your trip here.
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Tyson goes in front door of health care behemoth

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.

Do black restaurants only serve soul food?


He’s watching as his family led by co-founder Mrs. Virginia Ali expands the Ben’s Chili Bowl brand.

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.

Teenager’s courage a century apart defined San Francisco’s civil rights impact


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.

Black American Day honors first American to die for the country

Langston Hughes spent time in San Francisco with patron Noel Sullivan in the mid-1930s, engaging with major entertainers and the labor movement.

Langston Hughes spent time in San Francisco with patron Noel Sullivan in the mid-1930s, engaging with major entertainers and the labor movement.

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.

Black Food Month–a $75 billion slice of pie

Street banner acknowledging local food enthusiast in Salt Lake City.

Street banner acknowledging local food enthusiast in Salt Lake City.

About the last sight I anticipated in front of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City was a series of street banners of an African-American “foodie.”
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.
SAYGRACE14COVEROur 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.

Talking jazz in Utah

Talking jazz in Utah

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.

More than three dozen hidden landmarks to see in downtown S.F.


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.

Leidesdorff statue stopping passersby

Ebony Boat Club treasurer and past commodore Otis Brock and James Mack learn about the new Leidesdorff statue along with Sarah O'Neal Rush, great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington and her husband Anthony Rush as historian John William Templeton describes the inscription for the sculpture.

Ebony Boat Club treasurer and past commodore Otis Brock and James Mack learn about the new Leidesdorff statue along with Sarah O’Neal Rush, great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington and her husband Anthony Rush as historian John William Templeton describes the inscription for the sculpture.

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.

Black Maritime Heritage Festival TODAY at 10 a.m. at Pier One

Black Maritime Heritage Festival TODAY at 10 a.m. at Pier One

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.

Find your feast

Find your feast

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.

$150 billion in lending over five years to create two million new jobs

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.

Our major finding is that the standards do not use econometric measurements to evaluate performance on business lending.   The late Dr. Leon Sullivan pointedly followed Opportunities with Industrialization in the 1960s.  Industrialization has been the predominate need for African-American communities in the 50 years since, but the financial community has not met the credit demand.
Year of Jubilee: State of Black Business, 10th edition, found that SBA lending to African-American businesses fell more than three-quarters in every region of the country from 2008 to 2011, leading to a special panel to investigate.
Based on the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Small Business Lending, the aggregate demand for credit among the two million African-American businesses is $30 billion per year.  Not only is that not being met, but the alternative of residential equity borrowing has dried up.
That demand can be broken down to the state and local level by applying the Fed’s average small business credit demand to the number of such enterprises in a given jurisdiction.
How institutions meet that demand should be one of the primary ways that regulators evaluate their performance.  Such a standard would dramatically improve job creation and business formation, currently half the rate for whites in most of the country.
For those who might protest this initiative, the suggested national target amounts to $3,333.33 per day for each of the 30,000 regulated institutions, less than $1 million in business lending for each over the course of a year.  A competent finance CEO should be able to make $5 million in loans to black businesses over a five year period or invest in someone who will.
We believe that the goal will be best achieved by incentivizing most institutions to partner with or invest in the institutions with the best track record for lending and investing in these communities.  Member organizations of the National Association of Investment Companies, banks among the National Bankers Association and community development financial institutions have not received capital equivalent to the scope of the demand.
Regulators, 40 years after the Community Reinvestment Act, must move beyond ritualized “outreach” through award dinners and photo opportunities– just before regulatory filings– to making lending to black businesses a monetary target with daily monitoring.  The goal represents $100 million in lending per day.
With much business lending moving into the realm of merchant banking, regulators must also assess how institutions manage capital.  The impact of private equity and venture capital investments on domestic job creation in areas of labor surplus should be measured.
In some urban areas, disparate capital flows to trendy industries create dislocation pressures on communities which have been starved for investment in industrial jobs.   Certain groups have unlimited access to capital.  On any given day, the business press reports at least one non-diverse company which receives more than $100 million in venture investments, often several.
Silicon Ceiling 13: Equal Opportunity and High Technology notes that African-American innovators, among the 31,000 black technology companies, find those flows are not accessible to them, despite patents and trademarks and multiple degrees among key leadership.
In the same way that federal procurement is measured to second tier suppliers, financial institutions should report the extent to which managers which they invest in achieve fair business lending and investment.
As sizable financial enterprises, regulated institutions can make a huge difference with their procurement practices.  Here again, econometric techniques have given way to mere window dressing.   With African-American businesses seven percent of all such entities and blacks more than eleven percent of the population, marketing expenditures and philanthropic budgets should be measured within two standard deviations of those targets.
Using these objectives, more than two million jobs can be created in the communities which need them the most over the next five years.
John William Templeton, San Francisco
Timothy Bates, Ph.D. Asheville, N.C.
Anthony Robinson, Esq. Washington, D.C.
William Robinson, Detroit
Matthew Thomas, San Francisco

Clay took a different path than Perkins


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.”

Port of San Francisco hosts African-American Freedom Trail exhibit

The exhibition The African-American Freedom Trail opens at the Port of San Francisco headquarters at Pier One on Monday, Feb. 3.  Sponsored by San Francisco Travel, Holiday Inn-Civic Center, Fairmont Hotels, ParkSFO, HCA & Associates, Café Golo and Sheba Lounge, the four panels will hang in the front entrance during February to support the seven-week community learning series Come to the Water: Teaching San Francisco Black History.
A companion brochure is available at the Visitor Information Center of San Francisco Travel.  The display has previously shown in the San Francisco and San Jose Fairmont Hotels.
On Friday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. in the Bayside Room on the first floor of Pier One, the Black Maritime Heritage Festival will present the maritime history of African-Americans in the Bay Area with representatives from various agencies describing potential water-related careers for school children.   The festival will end with a march to the new statue of Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff erected by Clinton Reilly Holdings at Leidesdorff and Pine Streets.
Curated by Oxford University Press historian John William Templeton, the panels show the global impact of local pioneers towards freedom and justice as well as interesting personalities in the fields of religion, literature, politics and business.  Templeton presents the Come to the Water course on Saturdays Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22, March 1, 5 at the Visitor Center of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park at Hyde and Jefferson Streets.
March 5 is the California state holiday Black American Day to honor sailor Crispus Attucks, the first American to die for the country.


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.

510Nano begins first of 25MW rollouts

project signGARYSBURG, 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.

New features at King Monument on Mall, NMAAHC progress

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on the Mall has added new amenities for visitors this holiday season.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on the Mall has added new amenities for visitors this holiday season.

The exterior wall includes timeless quotes from Dr. Kingi

The exterior wall includes timeless quotes from Dr. Kingi

In one quote, he called for a society with a conscience

In one quote, he called for a society with a conscience

A holiday wreath from the U.S. Dept. of Interior honors Dr. King

A holiday wreath from the U.S. Dept. of Interior honors Dr. King

At the new bookstore, one can buy authentic posters from the 1963 March on Washington at the nearby Lincoln Memorial At the new bookstore, one can buy authentic posters from the 1963 March on Washington at the nearby Lincoln Memorial[/caption]
The visitor center also has restrooms.  It is across West Canal Street from the main monument.

The visitor center also has restrooms. It is across West Canal Street from the main monument.

The monument is south of the Lincoln Memorial just below the World War II Monument at Independence Ave. S.W. and West Canal.

The monument is south of the Lincoln Memorial just below the World War II Monument at Independence Ave. S.W. and West Canal.

Construction is proceeding on the National Museum of African-American History and Culture between 13th and 14th Streets on Constitution Ave.

Construction is proceeding on the National Museum of African-American History and Culture between 13th and 14th Streets on Constitution Ave.

The new museum will be adjacent to the Washington Monument, now also undergoing renovation.

The new museum will be adjacent to the Washington Monument, now also undergoing renovation.

A welcome center at 13th Street allows guests to learn about the museum

A welcome center at 13th Street allows guests to learn about the museum

This rendering shows how the completed museum will look.

This rendering shows how the completed museum will look.

Personal Authenticity and Perceived Chance of Success

In the wildly popular Harry Potter series, the pre-teen protagonists become expert in magic and metaphysics, successfully joust with supernatural beings and outsmart all the adults they encounter.
The saga demonstrates the workings of a set of pedagological phenomena described by Sylvia Wynter, the Stanford language professor, in an analysis of the Houghton-Mifflin kindergarten-eighth grade textbook series for California in the late 1980s.
It goes without saying that all of the protagonists in the Harry Potter series are white. Colors are attached to various levels of evil among the dangers of the series.
The concept of implied you describes how readers would assume that the young people were white even if there were no physical descriptions.
Empathic identification enables readers to like the characters and root for their success.
Genericity means that readers will assume that it is normal that all the characters are white.
Repressing the idea of justice ignores the question of whether the young people have the right to intrude into these arenas.
Changing the timeline of history allows the contemporary students to glide effortlessly across time in order to make the story work.
Although the Potter series is fiction, Wynter sees similar phenomena at work in the social science material made available to American students, and by extension, students around the world.
The Eritrean linguist/sociologist Asmarom Legesse posited that such shaping of literature and mythology had the effect of systematically demotivating marginalized groups of people. Carter G. Woodson, founder of Negro History Week, came to the same conclusion about African-Americans and their lack of knowledge of history.
However, on the reverse side, the use of these cognitive attributes has reliably replicated hierarchies of personal and group achievement since the time of Bartolome de las Casas.
Participants in this panel have explored how to not only reverse that demotivational impact, but also to use the same phenomena proactively to give students the same quest for success of  “Hushpuppy” in Beasts of the Southern Wild, a movie starring a young African-American girl, jousting with real day-to-day struggles for survival in the Louisiana delta that are not dissimilar to conditions faced by many of her peers.
Interestingly enough, Beasts of the Southern Wild, while winning critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination for its nine-year-old star, was not popular among African-American audiences, particularly young people.   So, just providing positive images, or role models, alone is insufficient to overcome a lifetme of negative conditioning.
Cohen,, notes that “belonging uncertainty, doubt as to whether one will be accepted or rejected by key figures in the social environment, can prove acute if rejection is based on one’s negatively stereotyped social identity..”  In structured experiments with college students, his research indicates that well-developed psycho-social interventions can lessen the threat risk for African-American students, described by Steele as stereotype anxiety.
These reactions can be engendered by stimuli which do not outwardly appear to be racially-motivated.   The Harry Potter series is an example of popular culture which would appear to have no apparent link.  Like most other written material, including textbooks, the book would serve to heighten resistance to reading because of the factors described by Wynter.   For a black youth, there is a clear message “this is not about you.”
Carter G. Woodson found that the same description applied to the entire sweep of American and world history as presented in literature, the impetus for the creation of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History and Negro History Week, which became Black History Month 50 years later.   Dates and Barlow implicate mass media as a forum for impeding the development of African-American culture.  The authors suggest a “racial tug-of-war which makes young African Americans feel as if they do not have a stake in society.”
Walker describes the elaborate intervention that black families developed before and after the Civil War to protect their youth from the impact of overt discrimination. She uses the anagram REACH WISELY to lay out the strategies.   Emerson shows how that supportive environment was provided through a segregated black high school in Wilmington, N.C.
Without the closed environment of segregated schools and communities in today’s multi-lingual, multi-ethnic classrooms, how do educators and parents create similar cultural scaffolding for African-American students who continue to have unique needs in the midst of competing demands for cultural recognition and the overarching public policy demand for school accountability.
Today’s panelists participated in the 1990s in a well-structured intervention provided through a consent decree entered with the San Francisco Unified School District.   IRISE was developed by Michael “Chappie” Grice, a developer of the Portland baseline standards, one of the first efforts to provide a curriculum wide set of standards for African-American heritage.  With administrators and teachers at more than 20 schools, IRISE was an important testbed for a variety of curriculum strategies. Despite positive gains in student outcomes, the end of the consent agreement meant the end of the IRISE program.
Woodson sought to use a combination of civic and educational structures to address what he termed the “miseducation of the Negro” in the development of ASALH and more than twenty books he wrote on African-American history.    An historic gathering in Chicago in the fall of 2012 sets the stage for a similar effort designed specifically around educational improvement.  A Black Educational Network seeks to connect 1,000 schools in an alliance to share best practices and content.
The 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation is an important watershed.  Ironically, the most important document in African-American history has been relatively obscured among African-Americans.   Celebrations at the 50 year and 100 year benchmarks were muted.   During 2013, ASALH, the National Archives and the new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture along with the Schomberg Center for the Study of Black Life and Culture took initiatives to foster a nationwide discussion of the impact of emancipation.
In a San Francisco high school, just days before the 150th anniversary in September, a group of African-American high school seniors were asked what they knew about black slavery.  Only one offered a brief description, voice trailing off with each word.  When they were then asked what they knew about slavery in the Bible, all raised their hands high and exclaimed that Moses parted the REd Sea and freed the Hebrews.  
One of today’s panelists was moderating the discussion, so he took advantage of the opportunity to apply a psycho-social intervention.  The students were then asked if they noticed the difference in their responses.  There was silence and stunned looks.  It was pointed out that the answer on black slavery did not mention emancipation, while the answers on the Bible began with the liberating moment.   Asked what that meant to their current frame of mind, they clearly suggested “it means we still act like we’re in slavery,” a moment of clarity which surprised even the questioner.
If, instead of being ashamed of being descendants of slaves, they saw themselves as part of a group which had overcome slavery, how would they perceive themselves. “Like we could do anything.”
The actual topic of the discussion was mathematics and the students aversion to it.    In San Francisco Unified School District, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection, only 15 black students took calculus.  Nationally, only 0.6 percent of black high school students took the advanced subject.  For New York City, that meant fewer than 2,000 of 200,000 black high school students were taking calculus.  Only one in eight took algebra.
At the beginning of the discussion, students saw a segment of the documentary A Great Day in Gaming: From Queens to Silicon Valley: The Gerald A. Lawson Story by ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage television network, an educational channel geared to provide psycho-social intervention for African-American students.   The film is structured to address learning barriers which impede African-American student performance in mathematics and science.
The encounter with the students shows the depth of those learning barriers extending in a cross-disciplinary fashion across history, literature, language and advanced subjects.   In the documentary, Gerald Anderson Lawson, a Queens public housing resident in the 1950s motivated by a clipping of George Washington Carver provided by an elementary school teacher, takes a succession of defense electronics jobs leading to a position as director of video engineering for Fairchild Semiconductor in the late 1960s in the early stages of what became known as Silicon Valley.   Lawson, who designed radar systems from beer cans while in high school, had interests beyond his job so he joined the Home Brew Computer Club along with such figures as Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Nolan Bushnell.  At the time, Lawson was in a higher level of employment as a manager than any of the afore-mentioned.
In order to disprove a bet that computers were not powerful enough to play games, Lawson developed the Channel F, the first video game console with a removable memory cartridge and an eight-way controller.  Yet, Lawson’s contribution to the global consumer economy — now a $26 billion industry — four times larger than motion pictures–was completely overlooked for more than 35 years.  A Great Day in Gaming chronicles Lawson’s visit to his first Game Developers Conference in 2011, the 25th year of the event.   In a meeting with the Blacks in Gaming group, many of the younger participants are openly emotional to find out that the industry pioneer was black like them.  One proclaimed, “We belong!” 
Another 25-year gaming veteran described meeting Lawson at the age of eight, visiting his Sunnyvale home with a DEC mainframe in the garage.  It had inspired him to go into the industry.
ReUNION’s pedagogy, known as “the Learning Garage” was shaped in a Stanford School Redesign Network course in 2002 and further field tested during a biotechnology summer magnet school in 2010 called Potrero Progress.     It involves using African-American history, specifically, or any cultural referent which relates to students, to prescriptively eliminate learning barriers.
Each of today’s panelists played a role in the implementation of Potrero Progress, which had a group of ten students from San Francisco’s poorest public housing development study salt for six weeks.  From Salt to San Francisco General played on their proximity to the city’s main trauma center and a burgeoning biotechnology sector in nearby Mission Bay. It also addressed the implications of a book on medical experimentation on African-American subjects.  By the end of the project, the students were working in concert directly with the president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.  Their first class meeting had been a global scientific meeting on stem cells, where they were the only African-Americans in the audience.
Earlier lessons from IRISE were inculcated.  The watershed of the Learning Garage was to move from analyzing the demotivational impact of mainstream curriculum and mass media to asking the question of how African-Americans succeed, a process fueled by the stories of the 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology since 1999.   For six weeks, the Potrero Progress students spent all day looking at pictures of the 50 Most, were in sessions with local members on  a daily basis and had to write profiles.
The formative evaluation after the session had students describe the experience as “a dream come true.” In addition to the science immersion, they took daily tours of African-American historic sites in downtown San Francisco.  As one young lady blurted out while standing at a little-known tribute to Maya Angelou, “This is interesting. I would actually go to school for this.”
Because the findings indicated that the creation of that sense of belonging is the predicate to achieving a sense of normality for African-American youth, ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage was created to provide this content by online video, in a channel developed by an African-American female “rocket scientist” Mary Spio, developer of digital satellite motion pictures at the age of 26.
Personal authenticity describes the utilization of the techniques described by Wynter to create a sense of belonging for African-American students.   In the 1300s, the dominant genre of literature were epics about black women warriors, as Hendricks points out.  Las Serges de Esplandian by Garcia Ordonez Montalvo was one of those epics, written in 1510.  It is the first print reference to the word California, which is describes as an island on the Pacific coast of North America populated solely by black women mariners and described as the “most powerful on earth.”   Although the epic is allegorical, it prompts Cortez to seek it out, with more than 300 black conquistadors in the 1530s.
When one of today’s panelists published an anthology on California’s African-American history featuring the passage in 1991, educators found that it produced a two-grade point average increase for African-American students.  The IRISE program was one of the schools which saw those results.
Like today’s Harry Potter, Queen Califia gave a sense of authenticity to those who saw themselves in her account of female empowerment.   Restoring that legacy through literature and television is just as important as reconnecting with Tierra de Esteban Gomes, the term Spanish maps of the 1500s gave to what is now New England.   Esteban Gomes was a Portuguese sailor of African ancestry who was the first to reach what is now the United States Atlantic coast.
In the 16th century, both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts were christened for black historic figures.
These formative images are part of reinterpreting the meaning of Emancipation, not just as the liberation from slavery, but as the rediscovery of a sense of normal development which is rooted in the history which preceeded the Middle Passage.   As the experience in the San Francisco classroom indicates, this grounding is important to the success of efforts to instil seemingly unrelated mathematics and science subjects.
As we note in the example of Beasts of the Southern Wild, merely presenting cultural referents is not enough.
Because of the paucity of reinforcement in the broader society, Potrero Progress explored another dimension — perceived chance of success.   Walker postulated that black youth were only interested in arenas where they feel they can excel.  Society has focused on athletics and entertainment as such arenas, leading to a great majority of black youth who expect to play professional sports or become rap millionaires.   Although the odds of either event are more than 5,000 to 1, the constant media exposure feeds that desire.
In contrast, 600,000 African-Americans work in high technology jobs like that of Lawson, a 100,000 to 1 ratio over the number of professional athletes.  Yet they are almost never seen in media.   In  fact, 24 percent of all federal technology workers are African-American, including more than a dozen agency CIOS and deputy CIOS, some who are graduates of historically-black colleges and universities.
Like the history of Las Serges de Esplandian, there is an asymetry between the portrait presented to African-American youth and the actual scientific evidence.
Using those current day figures as the medium to teach subjects is the phenomenon that gives motive force to the sense of belonging.   Such programs as ARTSI and the Spelbots, a robotics team created by former Spelman College professor Dr. Andrew Williams, demonstrate how quickly students take to the clearly relevant applications of advanced subjects.  As Presidential honoree Dr. Juan Williams notes, the ability to intervene in the problems they face individually and in communities, gives students the same sense of personal authenticity conveyed in the novels of Rowling.
John William Templeton is founder of ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage and editor of Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4 and Do Not Call Us Negros: How Multicultural Textbooks Perpetuate Racism by Sylvia Wynter.

She always fought with the facts– a virtuous woman

Domain Chandon

Mary E. Templeton, left, with sons John and Maxie at Domaine Chandon winery in California in 2008


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.

Cafe Golo founder opening second restaurant in mid-Market


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  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.

Taking Queen Calafia off the wall to San Francisco’s front door


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 will send a Wizard of Califia certificate to the young person who takes that journey.

Freedom Trail in Visitor Information Center

Freedom Trail in Visitor Information Center

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 for the book Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco.

Why felony charges are warranted in San Jose State case


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

Doc McStuffins featured on Toys’R’Us Thanksgiving promotion

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.

Ghana surging into energy production

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).

Healing the wounds of Jonestown

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

Finding saints in San Francisco

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 Solar rewriting the script

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.





A life that spoke for itself

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.


















He put California on the U.S. map


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.