New book unveils black presence in Western Addition long before commonly thought

SAN FRANCISCO — The history of African-Americans in the Western Addition goes back much further than most people think, according to the author of Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco.
During the third session of a seven week series, John William Templeton points out primary source evidence of lavish black-owned residences in the Western Addition as early as the 1890s including the home of the world’s most famous entertainer in 1900, Bert Williams, and the heralded Frazier-Toombs House on Baker St.
Templeton describes the period from 1870 to 1921 on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. at Marcus Books, 1712 Fillmore St. The series began Jan. 18 at the San Francisco Main Library and continued Jan. 29 at the National Maritime Museum.
Further sessions are scheduled Saturday, Feb. 12 at the San Francisco African-American Historical and Cultural Society at 1 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 19 in the southeast campus of City College of San Francisco.
Templeton published the first comprehensive history of blacks in San Francisco from 1770 to present as a textbook and reference to provide students and researchers with a complete inventory of primary sources. Each chapter has a questionnaire based on the California history/social science frameworks.
“When you ignore the fact that First A.M.E. Zion Church built a church at Geary and Webster which hosted the national denomination’s general convention in 1915 or that African-American lodges founded in the 1852 met in a hall at Steiner and Geary Streets in the early 1900s, you warp our understanding of the present,” says Templeton, also author of Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4 and contributor of African-Americans in the West for the Oxford Encyclopedia of African-American History.
He will also cover the black presence in the waterfront area which is the subject of Cakewalk: an historical novel about the unsung creators of jazz music.
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