Linda Brooks Burton, pride of Bayview Hunters Point, passes

by Mary Ratcliff

On Sept. 19, Bayview Hunters Point lost a favorite daughter. Linda Brooks Burton, born and raised right here in the neighborhood, served as managing librarian of the Bayview Library for nearly 15 years and, a 30-year veteran of the San Francisco Public Library, was recently put in charge of all six libraries in San Francisco’s southeast sector.

Linda’s love for the people and heritage of her community is tangible. Through her Bayview History Preservation Project, she has brought vividly to life the courage, creativity and never-say-die resilience of the people who made Bayview Hunters Point the Black heartland of San Francisco.

Linda-Brooks-Burton-web, Linda Brooks Burton, pride of Bayview Hunters Point, passes, Local News & Views I’ll never forget Linda’s excitement when she found some old newspapers from decades ago written by, about and for this neighborhood’s residents. She even let us borrow one of the precious papers to copy and reprint accounts of the 1966 Hunters Point rebellion, when, 47 years ago, young people rose up to protest police brutality – SFPD had just killed 16-year-old Matthew “Peanut” Johnson – and to demand jobs and decent housing. Linda helped us know our past to inspire us to build a better future.

Everyone in the community has a “Linda Brooks Burton story” because she touched each one of us personally. Her loss has left such a huge void that most of us were literally dumbfounded, unable to put into words our worry that without her as our anchor, the community may lose our struggle to stay here and drift away. We honor her best by carrying on her inspiring and empowering legacy.

Linda made the old Bayview Library feel like home. In Bayview Hunters Point, all the venues where people can meet, plan and strategize together are owned by the City. The library is too, but when meeting there, knowing Linda was there for us, we had no sense that Big Brother was watching.

Librarians tend to take the people’s constitutional right to free assembly and free expression very seriously. As the librarian, Linda welcomed everyone to the Bayview Library – to come in, to come together and to speak out.

Linda leaves behind her husband, John Burton, also a longtime friend to the Bay View, and three children, aged 21, 20 and 13. Her daughter Jamila Burton has created a way for all of us to keep their mother’s legacy alive and vibrant through an education fund to send Bayview Hunters Point students to college. Go to to make a contribution and leave your condolences and a tribute.

Jamila writes: “My mother, a well known community figure, passed away suddenly and it was a shock to all who were close to her. We, as her family, are asking that in lieu of flowers, to please make a donation.”

Jamila writes: “My mother, a well known community figure, passed away suddenly and it was a shock to all who were close to her. We, as her family, are asking that in lieu of flowers, to please make a donation.”

“We all remember Linda Brooks Burton,” writes community advocate Francisco Da Costa, “her presence, always polite, always lending a helping hand. … A strong Black woman, Linda has gone to the other side at the age of 49 years. … Well respected, she worked hard, she served better.

“Linda was brave, took a stand and did what was right. She did right all the time. … Both Linda Brooks Burton and John Burton – stellar, strong, well educated and proud to be Black and represent. I can say without blinking an eye that Linda was a saint! …

“So many young children from so many walks of life went into that library by Revere Street and once in, if they saw Linda Brooks Burton, felt at ease. The children had known her since they were very young. They knew they could go to her for anything – she was such a saint. …

“Our Bayview leaders should and must shine light and follow the extraordinary example of Linda Brooks Burton. May your soul rest in peace.”

Memorial service

A public service for Linda Brooks Burton will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2:15 to 4:30 p.m., with a repast immediately following, at the City College of San Francisco’s Southeast Campus in the Alex Pitcher Community Room, located at 1800 Oakdale Ave., San Francisco.

Linda’s family asks that anyone who would like to pay tribute to Linda at the public service please contact Linda’s daughter Jamila as soon as possible at If anyone would like to say a few words in memory of Linda at the service, there will be a portion during the program for such reflections.

Linda’s family also asks that, in lieu of flowers and sympathy cards, people donate to the memorial fund established in Linda’s memory at

Bay View editor Mary Ratcliff can be reached at or (415) 671-0789.