The newly completed statue of Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff is capturing the attention of many, reports the company which installed the artwork in San Francisco’s Financial District. Megha Rajput, executive assistant at Clinton Reilly Holdings, said many people stop to ask questions about the engraved inscription which lists the many accomplishments of the sailor-merchant-diplomat-legislator who packed many lifetimes into a mere 38 years.
At the conclusion of the Black Maritime Heritage Festival, she mentioned that the First Lady, Michelle Obama, had seen the sculpture and legend while speaking at the One Leidesdorff Place meeting space operated by Clinton Reilly Holdings.
The same appeal was reported for the African-American Freedom Trail exhibit at Pier One by Port of San Francisco executive director Michelle Moyer in her report to the Port Commission Thursday. Deputy executive director Byron Rhett was among the dignitaries attending the festival Friday morning.
Supervisor Malia Cohen applauded Reilly for commissioning the statue. “This is really big,” she said. Cohen also took note of the participation of the Ebony Boat Club, California’s only African-American boaters group, based in Antioch, for its offer to share the experience of boating for local young people.
Past Commodore James Mack and Treasurer Otis Brock said their club is one of the more active in the state, winning awards during the annual Opening of the Bay events for their decorations.
The supervisor said such experiences should be available to constituents in her district which includes the longest shoreline in the city, but does not have docking facilities.
Sarah O’Neal Rush, great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, and Teresa Baker, founder of African-American National Parks Day, also underscored the importance of providing water experiences for young people. “It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood the importance of Booker T. Washington and it literally changed my life,” said Rush. “That’s why I formed a foundation to give the same experience to youth.” She takes groups of youth on a tour that mirrors the important sites of Washington’s life.
Baker created the special event last year and is planning the second edition June 7-8, with a local focus on the Buffalo Soldier trail. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, has introduced a bill to have the National Park Service study the creation of a trail between the Presidio and the national parks patrolled by the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Regiments.
Cohen reiterated her support for the creation of an African-American Freedom Trail. She was presented with copies of the African-American Heritage Trail book for the District of Columbia and a National Gallery of Art booklet on the Shaw monument depicting the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.
Reilly also received the same tokens of appreciation for his patronage of the Leidesdorff sculpture.