The fixes instead of the fixers


In my favorite TV show, Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope breaks into hysterical laughter upon learning that practically everyone around her is a murderer, including her own mother and father. “What’s the point?” she exclaimed on ABC’s Scandal.

In San Francisco’s real life version, yesterdays Chronicle asked how a former bank teller became president of the school board, and then a high priced consultant for some of the city’s richest companies. He and a state senator were recently arrested with dozens in an indictment that gives Shonda Rimes a run for her money.

With the wide array of competing interests and high stakes, San Francisco’s one party state makes Afghanistan look organized.

However the fixer scenario in both plots is common to black communities around the planet. Whereever one goes, there is someone whose sole function is to keep things quiet while such abuses as predatory lending and inadequate education proceed to the detriment of the black masses. On the same day, Charlotte’s mayor was arrested and forced to resign.

Folks who actually have solutions get ignored as long as these fixers are willing to take a few dollars. While legitimate efforts have had doors slammed in their faces, jaw dropping sums are spent on “consultants.”

That’s why for the past year, I have found the almost completely unknown United San Francisco Freedom Movement from 1963 to 1965 so compelling. Its leadership was raised to a high moral standard to serve the entire community interest without egos. They did research, determined the needs and fought for the solutions they identified.

As we have presented National Black Business Month for the past 10 years, I’ve always found that asking someone to read our State of Black Business report is a great screening tool. If they’re not interested in the research, they’re just interested in themselves.

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Cadillac sit-ins, the penultimate event of the Auto Row campaign which shut down Van Ness Ave.   My documentary The African American Freedom Trail and the companion exhibition premiere at 4 p.m. at the Black Coalition on AIDS, 601 Cesar Chavez.

Since last August, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the principals of the movement, who still retain their same values, are fighting for the same causes and are still shy around the limelight. They went to jail proudly in 1964 because they knew their cause was just .

But when outmigration and unemployment shackle communities although resources are available, we must insist like 50 years ago that the powerful do more than grease a few palms.

The 375 employer agreements achieved by the United San Francisco Freedom Movement are an eloquent testimony to what can happen when the focus is on the fix rather than the fixer.


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