Today the Fillmore went dark!

Open letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors

by Fred Jordan, San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce          

One year ago, the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce threatened to establish a national tourism boycott of San Francisco for activities that represented an insidious exclusion of African Americans from the economy of this city. One obvious result of this gentrification, discrimination in jobs and contracts and a general lack of resources allotted to the Black community has been the decrease of the Black population from 18 percent to less than 6 percent.

The Addition, formerly Yoshi’s SF, at 1330 Fillmore St., is an elegant – and expensive – venue. When the Fillmore district was known as Harlem of the West, San Francisco was largely segregated, but though many occupations were off limits, most Blacks were able to earn a living and support the many Black clubs and other businesses. Today, very few Blacks can afford many evenings at a venue like this.
The Addition, formerly Yoshi’s SF, at 1330 Fillmore St., is an elegant – and expensive – venue. When the Fillmore district was known as Harlem of the West, San Francisco was largely segregated, but though many occupations were off limits, most Blacks were able to earn a living and support the many Black clubs and other businesses. Today, very few Blacks can afford many evenings at a venue like this.

This forced out-migration lasted from the early ‘70s when the City Redevelopment Agency mowed down and destroyed the Fillmore District, to today. Over 150 thriving Black businesses were annihilated and 50,000 African Americans were pushed out of the Fillmore, then known worldwide as the Harlem of the West.

During 2014, over 60 leaders of city government, private industry and the community came together to meet the 13 demands of the San Francisco African American Chamber to call off the boycott. The only issue that has not been responded to has been the funding request of 1.5 percent of the Hotel Tax to implement actions and activities to reverse this out-migration of African Americans from San Francisco.

The City of San Francisco has not denied this decimation of the Black Fillmore community.

TODAY THE FILLMORE WENT DARK! The Addition, formerly Yoshi’s, closed its doors, 77 people lost their jobs and many will wind up on unemployment.

The 16 investors, mostly Black, who put up over $1.5 million and who tried to save the venue after Yoshi’s San Francisco went into Chapter 13 bankruptcy, will lose their investments. The entire Fillmore community is saddened.

Gussie’s, the Black soul food restaurant diagonally across the street, left a couple of months ago. Rassellas Jazz Club up the street on Fillmore is gone. Now, what will happen to the 1300 Restaurant next door to The Addition? What will happen to Sheba’s Ethiopian Restaurant and Jazz Club across the street?

Though not mentioned in this open letter, the best known and most egregious closing of a Black business in the Fillmore was last year’s eviction of Marcus Books from its landmarked location at 1712 Fillmore St. in a building that housed Bop City, one of the best known clubs in the old Fillmore. Marcus Books not only served generations of San Franciscans; tourists as well flocked to the store, the oldest Black book store in the nation. A precedent exists for the City to negotiate and restore the building to Marcus Books.
Though not mentioned in this open letter, the best known and most egregious closing of a Black business in the Fillmore was last year’s eviction of Marcus Books from its landmarked location at 1712 Fillmore St. in a building that housed Bop City, one of the best known clubs in the old Fillmore. Marcus Books not only served generations of San Franciscans; tourists as well flocked to the store, the oldest Black book store in the nation. A precedent exists for the City to negotiate and restore the building to Marcus Books.

Will the Fillmore, once rivaled only by Harlem with its 31 restaurants and jazz clubs, die? The City did this! The question is: Did the City do enough to rectify its mistakes?

Now, what about the predatory gentrification of Bayview Hunters Point. What ever happened to the Black conclave of OMI? Other than three or four Supervisors, who cares? The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has aggressively dealt with all types of issues and resolutions but has devoted little attention to save and support the Black community.

Last July, Supervisors Cohen, Chiu, Tang and Breed were courageous enough to hold a hearing on concrete and immediate solutions to advance economic inclusion and equity for African American businesses in San Francisco, particularly in hospitality. We expect and are waiting for our demand for specific resources to be set aside to support, sustain and advance small businesses that resemble our most under-served communities. We must act now.

The Chamber is asking that you take action immediately to provide the meager funding of 1.5 percent of the bountiful Hotel Tax to begin assistance and programs for the survival of the Black community in San Francisco. The Black community in this City is losing ground every day. Again, time is of the essence.

Sincerely yours,

Frederick Jordan, President and Chairman, San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce

Contact Fred Jordan at fred@sfaac.org or admin@sfaacc.org and visit the Chamber at http://www.sfaacc.org.