From Queen Calafia to Cakewalk

The Western Addition Family Resource Center will hold an event “Honoring Moms and Dads” on Tuesday, June 1 at 6 p.m. at Sheba Lounge, 1419 Fillmore St.
I’ve been asked to share the broader history of our foremothers and forefathers in the city.
Although I’ll be brief, partially because Sheba Lounge is one of my favorite places to eat, I think parents should know the continuum of history represented in my four-volume work, Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4.
A literal Sword of Damocles is hanging over the heads of black students in San Francisco as dangling federal dollars are the excuse to subtract more educational resources from them.
In 2008, my research study Black Heritage as Gap Closer showed that the infusion of California’s African-American heritage would be the impetus for sustained improved outcomes for black students.
Last month, I debuted an historical novel, Cakewalk, intended as a new classic for both social studies and literature. It builds on a chapter about the first jazz clubs in history in Volume 2 of Our Roots Run Deep, 1900-1950 and incorporates new data from the application I’m submitting to designate eight downtown buildings from the first decade of the 20th century to the National Register of Historic Sites.
Those cultural contexts spur curiosity, improve motivation and lead to scholarship.
However, as parents, we are remiss if we do not point students to the growth fields for their careers.
During the era of Cakewalk, from 1906 to 1921, musicians were the most numerous occupation for blacks in San Francisco, because the community invested from the 1850s on in a vigorous system of music training in and out of its churches.
Arthur C. Taylor, the preeminent music teacher of the 19th century, actually gave what is considered the first jazz performance in 1869 during a tribute and fundraiser.
Today, biotechnology is the driving force for the city’s future economy. Our documentary Freedom Riders of the Cutting Edge demonstrates the centrality of black innovators in the development of Silicon Valley in the 1950s–a role our young people must be prepared to play in the 2010s.
The Black Students Internet Guide gives a robust repertoire of culturally responsive materials which students can use to hone their career choices.
With schools closing, teachers in flux and budgets crumbling, the role of parents in defining the content and direction of education is more important than ever.
The U.S. Department of Education recently doubled the percentage of Title 1 funding that must be devoted to parent outreach. That’s just part of the landscape that black parents need to navigate to bring their children through their adolescence on a path to a fruitful life.

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