Come to the Water at the National Maritime Museum

Since the black experience in San Francisco begins from a maritime experience, there is no better place to convene the second session of Come to the Water: Teaching San Francisco Black History than the National Maritime Museum.
Just adjacent to the building is a marker denoting the first ship to sail into San Francisco Bay.
The session begins Saturday, Jan. 29 at 1 p.m. in the spacious second floor of the building, which can be reached by public transportation on the Muni 19 line, which terminates in front of the building or the 47 and 49 lines which stop one block away.
Supervisory Park Ranger John Cunnane took myself and Ranger Guy Washington, western regional coordinator of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, on a tour of the recently-renovated building and the new visitor center for the San Francisco Maritime National Park today.
Relating directly to the theme of Black History Month and our subject on Saturday, the museum has several artifacts from the ship Niantic, one of the critical sites in California black heritage. Once beached and turned into a store and hotel, it housed the boot shop of Mifflin W. Gibbs and Peter Lester.
We stop at the site of the Niantic, which is now Transamerica 2 Building on Clay Street, during our historic walking tours of the black experience in the 1850s in San Francisco.
Cunnane also pointed out that there is a far more extensive footprint of the art of Sargent Johnson in the National Maritime Museum than the fabled fresco on the front wall of the building.
There is also an additional mosaic on the rear wall of the building, originally known as the Aquatic Park Bathhouse, when built in 1937.
Embedded in that front fresco is a political statement by Johnson regarding the Strike of 1934. At the midpoint of the program on Saturday, a ranger will give a tour of the Sargent Johnson art in the building.
Cunnane also pointed out the new visitors center in the Hotel Argonaut building. We got a sneak preview of a large exhibition under construction about six maritime neighborhoods, including Hunters Point.
The main objective of the program is to roll out a series of 35 lesson plans designed to teach the national theme of Black History Month, African-Americans and the Civil War, from Feb. 1 through March 5, Black American Day in California schools in honor of the death of Crispus Attucks during the Boston Massacre in 1770.
We’re presenting those plans through daily editions of our newsletter CaliforniaBlackHIstory and through podcasts from
Based on our track record since 1991, when we first published Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California 20 years ago, parents and teachers who use the plans can expect a two-grade point average gain among African-Americans students.
On Saturday, we will continue a chronological survey of African-American history in San Francisco, which also dates to 1770. Our focus is the period from 1849 to 1860 and we will highlight five local organizations which were founded in 1852 and still exist to this day.
The next class will be the following Saturday, Feb. 5 at Marcus Books, 1712 Fillmore St. at 1 p.m. which is accessible on the Muni 22, 2, 3,4, 38 lines.