Taking teachers to school

SAN FRANCISCO — The 37 percent dropout rate for African-American students in California means educators need to go to school, according to publisher/historian John William Templeton.
In conjunction with the San Francisco Public Library, the 50-year-old Marcus Books, the country’s oldest black bookstore; the San Francisco African-American Historical and Cultural Society, the National Park Service, City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University, Templeton will lead a six-week course on teaching the history of African-Americans in San Francisco beginning Jan. 18, 2011.
Supporting the course are two new books Templeton unveiled during events at the S.F. Public Library, Marcus Books and Mechanics Library in November — Cakewalk, a murder mystery about the unsung creators of jazz music set between 1892 and 1921 on the San Francisco waterfront; and Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco, a comprehensive textbook on the city’s heritage from 1770 to the present.
Templeton, executive editor of the ASPIRE SAN FRANCISCO imprint for eAccess Corp., conducted a survey of California social science teachers in 2008 for his keynote to the California Council for the Social Studies, finding that only ten percent knew how to provide culturally responsive instruction.
His experience through 20 years since the publication of Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vol. 1 has been a dramatic improvement in student performance. This summer, he demonstrated the findings practically by leading a biotechnology-focused magnet school for public housing students in south east San Francisco, that led to two being tapped as interns for the cutting edge California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Because the national theme of Black History Month is African-Americans in the Civil War, Templeton will show participants how to infuse the role of California abolitionists as catalysts for the launch of the War Between the State, an aspect not commonly known.

He has researched five black organizations in San Francisco — three churches and two lodges — all founded in 1852, which began as Underground Railroad affiliates and continue the same quest for human rights to this day.

The classes break down San Francisco black history chronologically:

Class 1 covers the period from 1770 to 1848 and will be in the Latino/Hispanic Reading Room of the San Francisco Main Library at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 100 Larkin St.

Class 2 focuses on the Gold Rush Abolitionists whose institutions are still alive today, covering the period from 1849 to 1869. I’ll be joined at the National Maritime Museum in Aquatic Park by Guy Washington, western regional coordinator of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 11 a.m. and by representatives of the five 159-year-old local black organizations founded in 1852.

Class 3 deals with the period from 1869 to 1921 when black institutions helped forge the entertainment and business infrastructure of a growing San Francisco at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 5 at Marcus Books, 1712 Fillmore St.

Class 4 covers the period from 1921 to 1951 at the San Francisco African-American Historical and Cultural Society, 762 Fulton St., Second Floor on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m.

Class 5 deals with the period of rapid growth in black population from 1940 to 1959, the signing of the California Civil Rights Act and the settlement patterns which spread to Bayview/Hunters Point and Ocean/Merced/Ingleside on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 11 a.m.

Class 6 views the demographic trends which led to the high point in black population in 1970 and the developments which ensued from the successful civil rights campaigns of the 1960s; as well as the trauma of events such as Jonestown, school boycotts, the closing of Transbay Federal Savings to today’s landscape for a declining black population. It will take place at San Francisco State. Date and place to be determined.