Cakewalking across San Francisco

African-Americans played a key role in S.F. musical theatre in the 19th century as shown by this marker for the California Theatre on Bush St. Photo ©2010 Walter Atkins

The geography of San Francisco is a vital part of telling the history of Cakewalk, the historical novel which debuted at Marcus Books on Fillmore Saturday. We began the day with a tour of the buildings in which the novel’s plot is set. To understand how blacks played such a central role after the 1906 earthquake, one must see how important a space they occupied for decades before. These shots by Walter Atkins show some of the sights on the tour.
I tell elementary students that William Leidesdorff started the first school in the state. Photo © 2010 Walter Atkins

At the site of Purcell’s So Diff’rent, I erected street banners back in 1997 to mark the location of the buildings where the story takes place.
Street banner marking site of Purcell's So Diff'rent. Photo 2010 © Walter Atkins

After a stop for lunch at Farmer Brown’s restaurant, we proceeded to Marcus Books. This is one of the three tour circuits we regularly provide through San Francisco Black Heritage Tours.
Tracing the genealogy of the members of the So Diff'rent band took more than 10 years. Photo © 2010 Walter Atkins

We had a lively discussion with several groups of shoppers for the next six hours.
I answer a question from the audience. Photo ©2010 Walter Atkins

Cakewalk was described by one reader as having the feel of a rich gumbo, with new flavors and textures in each byte.
Author John William Templeton with Cakewalk. Photo ©2010 Walter Atkins