Dissin’ Fillmore Jazz

I went out of my way several times over the weekend to avoid the Fillmore Jazz Festival, which has become progressively bigoted and segregated over its 26 years of existence.
It is a metaphor for the failed urban policy which I describe in Chapter 7 of Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vol. 3, 1950-2000 “San Francisco’s Fillmore District: The Cutting Edge of Black Urban Removal.”
Authenticity is usually a hallmark of historic and cultural preservation, not systematic erasure of history.
The simple way to express what happened is that the Fillmore Jazz Festival stretches a dozen blocks from Jackson down to Eddy Street for two days; while San Francisco Juneteenth, which is 60 years old and actually a tradition rooted in the jazz heritage of Fillmore, had to move from Fillmore several years ago.
While researching the Invisible Pioneers context statement on the history of African-Americans in San Francisco, I discovered the 1929 membership list of the San Francisco NAACP at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, along with the minutes and correspondence of the chapter at the Library of Congress.
More than half of the 400 members lived between Post and Sacramento Streets between Van Ness Avenue and Baker Street, an area most San Franciscans would describe as Pacific Heights.
The actual black business district, beginning from the 1920s with Butler Funeral Home and later with clubs like Bop City, was concentrated along Post Street and extended as far as Haight Street and Divisadero Street. Check out the Bunny Simon interview on KPOO at Marcus Books You Tube channel.
By 1960, when African-Americans were 12 percent of San Francisco’s population, the 120-block area of predominately black neighborhoods extended as far as Masonic Street.
One would not have any inkling of that by visiting the “Fillmore Jazz Festival” which no longer even gives lip service to the community’s heritage or, more importantly, the vestiges of the black community, by hiring local talent or workers.
In future years, the City and County of San Francisco should not even award a permit to an activity which disrespects its surrounding community so thoroughly.

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