In its own way, the parade and City Hall welcome for Garland Anderson was reminiscent of the celebration for the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series.
The former hotel bus boy had just returned in 1929 from becoming the first black playwright to produce a play on Broadway.
Earlier in 1903, Bert Williams from San Francisco had become the first black actor to perform on Broadway. Williams also the first black to have his music recorded.
At the same time, his niece Tabytha Anderson was the first black woman to pass the bar in California after winning a law degree at Howard University.
They are just some of the fascinating personalities from the period 1921 to 1951 covered during the fourth session of Come to the Water: Teaching California Black History on Saturday, Feb. 12 in the San Francisco African-American Historical and Cultural Society, 762 Fulton St. second floor at 1 p.m.
The seven week series has been sponsored by the society, African-American Center of the San Francisco Public Library, National Maritime Museum and Hannibal Lodge No. 1 to provide a broad understanding of the impact of African-Americans in the city and state.
There is a $5 recommended donation for admittance to the society, which is hosting The Kinsey Collection, a special presentation of the heralded exhibit attracting millions of visitors to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
The African-American Historical and Cultural Society is an outgrowth of that period, dating back to the visitors committee organized by long-time W.E.B. DuBois associate Ethel Ray Nance to host African delegates to the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945.
The series is based on the new textbook and reference Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco by historian John William Templeton, also author of Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4.
Additionally, a 35-day set of lesson plans found at californiablackhistory.com localizes the national theme of Black History Month, African-Americans and the Civil War, through the exhibition Gold Rush Abolitionists.
To conduct research for the books, Templeton drew on such sources as the minutes of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP in the 1940s from the Library of Congress; the branch’s 1929 membership list, found at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University; and the Daniel Collins Papers at the John Hope Franklin Research Center at Duke University.
Come to the Water continues on Saturday, Feb. 19 in room 413 of the southeast campus of City College of San Francisco, 1800 Oakdale, addressing the period from 1951 to 1971.
Educators, parents and anyone interested in researching their personal history are encouraged to participate in the series and to use the books as valuable resources.