Bay View turns 40!

Part 1

Editorial by Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff

It’s 2016, 40 years since Muhammad al-Kareem founded the New Bayview, now renamed the San Francisco Bay View, in 1976. Inspired by Malcolm X, he wanted to bring a newspaper like Muhammad Speaks to Bayview Hunters Point. He’ll tell the story of those early years, and I’ll pick it up now at the point when my wife Mary and I took over in 1992.

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The New Bayview was 15 years old when we took it on. This is our first paper. From that paper, dated Feb. 3, 1992, to now, January 2016, we’ve published 785 papers.

Watching our first paper roll through the huge two-story tall lumbering old press at Tom Berkley’s Post Newspaper Building on Feb. 3, 1992, was a feel-like-flying thrill we’ll never forget. Tom Berkley and Carlton Goodlett of the Sun Reporter are the giants of Bay Area Black newspaper publishing on whose shoulders I stand.

“The New Bayview newspaper, published since 1966 by Mr. Muhammad al-Kareem, has changed ownership,” announces a story in our first issue. “Mr. al-Kareem founded the New Bayview 15 years ago to serve ‘as a positive force in the struggle for freedom.’ … The New Bayview’s new owners, Willie and Mary Ratcliff, pledge to continue the tradition of courageous journalism.”

Courage was on the front page of that Feb. 3, 1992, paper. We’d called a meeting of volunteers to staff the paper, and two of them, well known tenant organizer Louise Vaughn and Hava Gurevich, a tiny young red-headed Russian photojournalist, had teamed up for a photo story on Geneva Towers. The twin 22-story towers, built as luxury housing for the 1 percent, were occupied by then by the 99 percent, their rent HUD subsidized.

Typical of low-income housing, the Towers were patrolled by a security crew mostly comprised of moonlighting cops – sleep deprived, mean and brutal. “I began to feel like in a prison camp,” Ms. Gurevich reported. “Who are they protecting? They tried to stop me every time I raised my camera.”

That was after Louise Vaughn had rescued her from a jail cell in the basement. She’d been jailed for bringing a camera to the Towers. “How long must we watch housing management capitalize off the poor?” asked Louise, referring, in the case of Geneva Towers, to the notorious John Stewart Co. A company grown fat over the decades, its founder once sidled up to Mary at a Geneva Towers meeting to brag, “I control 35,000 Black people in this city.”

“The New Bayview newspaper, published since 1966 by Mr. Muhammad al-Kareem, has changed ownership,” announces a story in our first issue.

Also in that first paper 24 years ago were stories on Rev. Jesse Jackson kicking off California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown’s re-election campaign, “Muni Metro on Track to Bayview,” the inauguration of San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan picketed by homeless artists, testimony of Kevin Williams to the U.S. Commission on Minority Business Development on white contractors’ refusal to observe and cities to enforce affirmative action in construction, David Alston’s entertainment column, reporting on Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte’s fundraiser to restore the Bayview Opera House, where Danny learned acting, “Sharing the Challenge: HIV and AIDS in Our Community” and an essay by a college student about losing her shame of living in public housing.

Printing that first paper was paid for by 30 ads for local businesses, nearly all of them Black, plus nine churches and one mosque. We’d jump for joy to have that kind of Black business support today. More Black businesses might have survived if they’d kept advertising.

New-Bayview-front-page-100292-web-300x229, Bay View turns 40!, Local News & Views “Over 13,000 New Voters Registered in Hunters Point, Vis Valley, OMI, Fillmore” to defeat Prop 165 to cut welfare 25 percent was the banner headline Oct. 2, 1992 – 450 of those new registrants housed at the San Francisco County Jail. We proudly endorsed Dr. Ahimsa Sumchai, one of the registration campaign leaders, who was running for College Board.

“Jobs, Not Jails” hollered the front page of the next issue, on Oct. 16, 1992 – we were publishing twice a month in those early years – over a story urging a No vote on a $158 million bond to build a new jail. “San Francisco Jail Blacks at Twice National Rate, Ten Times Rate in So. Africa” headlined another front page story reporting on a new study by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

“Clinton Promises Jobs” reports presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s promises to “concentrate on economic growth – jobs, businesses and affordable housing – in the inner cities,” to create 100 community development banks and end redlining. Are the Clintons credible?

And notice the echo of those headlines today – a campaign for jobs not jails and a Clinton running for president counting on Black votes. The issues persist, but this year we soundly defeated a new San Francisco jail.

Another theme that still echoes was struck in that issue by Jacquie Taliaferro in “Film Festivals: Who’s Invited?” He introduced readers to FESPACO, the festival held in Burkino-Faso, and told how Spike Lee got his start. David Alston was promoting En Vogue and RBL Posse.

New-Bayview-front-page-070293-web-300x229, Bay View turns 40!, Local News & Views By July 2, 1993, Hunters Point legend Charlie Walker was writing a column on the back page called “Why Has Nothing Worked?” “There is but one way to come up from under the madness. We must own and operate the businesses in our community,” he preached.

Sam Jordan, “Mayor of Butchertown” and BVHP’s best known restaurateur, touted the economic potential of the ghetto. Though we were once forced to live here, “the ghetto has proven to be a plus for those of us who are strong. … Let’s work hard to turn our money over in our community at least 12 times. Wake up, giants!”

A front page editorial in that issue, “Ed Lee Calling Kevin Williams ‘Ignorant’ and ‘Sleazy’ Is OK, Human Rights Commission Rules,” slams Ed Lee, San Francisco’s current mayor, then director of the Human Rights Commission, who insulted the only HRC staffer who fought for the Black businesses the agency had been created to serve. Another front page headline that echoes today is “Jailing Blacks Puts California in Poorhouse.”

From the beginning, we distributed the paper to the people we wanted most to read it and write it. From 1992 to 2008, we distributed the paper door to door throughout Bayview Hunters Point and several public housing developments nearby. A lively flock of children threw the paper for many years – young adults still greet us with “You gave me my first job!” and sometimes it’s the only job they ever had. When the shooting got too heavy, adults took over.

Then as now we also dropped the paper at literally hundreds of stores, churches, libraries, community centers – and at the San Francisco County Jail, where the paper was read and carried on into state prisons. By the Nov. 19, 1993, issue, several prisoners were among the writers. Rodney A. Wrice, aka Kango, wrote: “I have spent time in most Level 4 high security prisons – yes, even Pelican Bay, which is being charged with the very racism that we as Blacks or African Americans face each day …

“With blood in my eye, I now, once a street kid, speak consciously with the mind of a guerrilla. It is time that we as intelligent adults, gangsters, heroes and leaders give back to our youth their youth and teach them the identity of responsibility … that Black-on-Black violence breeds only Black hate from within.

“Society’s jails and prisons are full of Black inmates. Our streets are full of Black blood … We must teach liberating concepts.” The unruly younger prisoners that the Pelican Bay SHU veterans, now released to the mainline, are encountering come from that reality.

From the beginning, we distributed the paper to the people we wanted most to read it and write it.

Death row prisoner Steve Crittenden wrote the lead editorial, “Lift Every Voice: End the Death Penalty,” arguing, “We are the only free country which says that if a person is not the right color and has no money, the chances are that he will never encounter justice.” That Nov. 19, 1993, issue also has a series of “Personals” from prisoners like today’s “Pen Pals Wanted.”

We-Shall-Not-Be-Moved-New-Bayview-front-page-030494-web-300x229, Bay View turns 40!, Local News & Views “We Shall Not Be Moved” blasts the big banner headline on March 4, 1994, over a story by Louise Vaughn, “Agnos and Jordan conspire to drive Blacks out of Southeast San Francisco: Two bitter competitors come together to practice genocide on Blacks,” referring to then HUD Regional Director – and former mayor – Art Agnos and then current mayor, Frank Jordan. That issue and other Bay View papers are featured in an exhibit currently at the San Francisco Main Library called “I Am San Francisco” about the days when the city was home to 100,000 Black people, most of them gone now, unable to heed that banner headline.

New-Bayview-front-page-041594-web-300x229, Bay View turns 40!, Local News & Views On April 15, 1994, my front page editorial, “Stop! Before we Slide Back into Slavery,” read: “Voter registration workers, hurrying to register African American voters before the May 7 deadline, are meeting many who are simply afraid to register. They are afraid of being found, of being noticed, of speaking out – even by casting a secret ballot. Why?

“1) If they have a job, they’re afraid of losing it. San Francisco, lacking a Black business base, leaves Blacks little choice but to work for whites, who rarely tolerate outspoken ‘uppity’ Black folks.

“2) If they have a home, they’re afraid of losing it. In San Francisco, at least 70 percent of African Americans live in HUD-assisted public or low-income housing where speaking out gets you an eviction notice.

“3) If they have children they’re afraid of losing them. State officials say San Francisco’s DSS is the worst in the state for its habit of snatching Black babies away from their parents and placing them in distant white suburbs where many have died.

“4) If they are out of jail, they’re afraid of losing their freedom. San Francisco jails Black men at a rate 10 times higher than South Africa. This city, studies say, has the highest Black incarceration rate in California, which has the highest rate in the U.S., which has the highest rate in the ‘civilized’ world.

“So their fears are well founded. It’s hard to be Black in San Francisco.”

“1966 riot recalled” shouted a front page headline in the Sept. 16, 1994, issue. Bayview Hunters Point was deeply traumatized by what’s known as the ’66 Hunters Point Uprising, when, on Sept. 26, 1966, police shot Matthew “Peanuts” Johnson in the back, murdering him, and the community exploded.

Instead of setting fire to the Third Street corridor, where most businesses were still Black-owned, Hunters Point youth fought to drive out and keep police off their hill. The mayor’s response was terrifying.

“National Guard tanks were rolling down Third Street and police in full riot gear were lined up with rifles trained on the Opera House, which was loaded with young people and children. Many of our youth were wounded, though no one was killed,” was our summary of the story Harold Brooks told in a play at the Bayview Opera House that was shut down after one performance.

Harold, a beloved community organizer, had briefly broken the silence that had gripped the neighborhood ever since. Oldtimers are only now replacing shame with pride when they recall how, as teenagers, they scared the powers that be enough to put “Hunters Point Riot” in headlines around the world. Nineteen days later, on Oct. 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland. Panthers have Hunters Point in their DNA.

On Jan. 20, 1995, “300 Blacks form ring around City Hall” topped the front page describing Black construction contractors and workers protesting the Black share of only 3/10 of 1 percent of a contract to rehabilitate San Francisco City Hall. And my editorial on March 17, 1995, “Run Willie run,” was the first to urge Willie Brown to run for mayor.

Oldtimers are only now replacing shame with pride when they recall how, as teenagers, they scared the powers that be enough to put “Hunters Point Riot” in headlines around the world. Nineteen days later, on Oct. 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland. Panthers have Hunters Point in their DNA.

The photo I took of a sea of Black people at the Million Man March that graces the front page on Oct. 20, 1995, is the best picture of the march she’s ever seen, according to my wife. And inside that issue is a sports section captained by that legend of Black sports writers Huel Washington, who stayed with the Bay View for several years.

On Feb. 16, 1996, Huel penned “Community fed up with police brutality,” reporting newly appointed Black Police Chief Earl Sanders saying, “When I take off this uniform, I know I’m a candidate to be just another nigger beat up by the police.” On the same front page, Ross Mirkarimi penned “Black men jailed at eight times the rate of whites.”

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Hard Bricks comic strip (later J-Cat and Bootzilla) was written and drawn by Ronnie Goodman, then a prisoner himself in San Quentin and now the most famous homeless artist in San Francisco, who’s been featured on the front page of the Chronicle and whose work is a popular feature of many exhibits. The Bay View is proud of all the people who’ve written or been written about in our paper over the years and have gone on to higher heights.

“Protesters condemn prison ‘slavery’” was the top headline on April 5, 1996, a story by legendary journalist Kevin Weston on a rally outside California Department of Corrections headquarters in Sacramento that was organized by Martin Reed of Hunters Point from inside San Quentin Prison and drew a crowd of 150 in the driving rain. By then, the New Bayview had been renamed San Francisco Bay View with a rising sun masthead designed by artist Keith Lewis.

With a new push by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency to take control of Bayview Hunters Point, Marie Harrison, by then a fixture on the back page, wrote on June 7, 1996, “Remember the Fillmore. Remember South Park. Bayview Hunters Point is our final frontier in San Francisco. Here is where we make our stand. So hold the line. Refuse to be removed, replaced and dealt a slow death. Say No to the power plant and Yes to toxic cleanup. Save yourself and your neighborhood.”

That week the Board of Supervisors unanimously defeated a proposal for a new power plant we’d fought for a year – the fight revealing that we in Bayview Hunters Point were drowning in toxic soup, some of the worst environmentally racist conditions in the country that we’ve been fighting ever since.

“Prison officials stage ‘gladiator fights,’” reported on the Nov. 1, 1996, front page, updated a story we broke that September and the Chronicle finally picked up on Oct. 28. Our reporter was prisoner and Black Panther veteran Warren Wells, who wrote: “When you hear about Black and Mexican prisoners fighting in here, know that it is the state playing games, pitting us against each other so they can ask the public for more funds to build more prisons.”

SF-Bay-View-front-page-071897-web-1-300x230, Bay View turns 40!, Local News & Views “S.F. Bay View named national ‘Black Newspaper of the Year’” blared the banner headline in the July 18, 1997, paper. The honor was presented to us by the National Black Chamber of Commerce at their 1997 convention in Denver. Among the Bay View’s many other awards are the Society of Professional Journalists’ Excellence in Journalism Award in 1996 and their Freedom of Information Award in 2004, and we were named Best of the Bay by the great Bay Guardian in 1997 and 2009.

The front page of that paper also reports on the start of the landmark Shumate v. Wilson trial filed by prison health care hero Charisse Shumate, alleging gross medical neglect and abuse, a constant Bay View theme for decades.

Inside that paper in the Culture Currents section is a review by Wanda Sabir, soon to become our arts editor and still the only journalist covering the incredibly vibrant Bay Area Black arts scene. Her column took the name Wanda’s Picks on July 14, 1999. She’s also a strong advocate for prisoners and a board member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners.

The back page is graced with the J-Cat and Bootzilla comic strip that ran for years, artist Ronnie Goodman mailing a new strip from inside San Quentin twice a month.

J-Cat-and-Bootzilla-art-by-Ronnie-Goodman-in-SFBV-071897-web-300x138, Bay View turns 40!, Local News & Views
Inside the July 18, 1997, Bay View, Ronnie Goodman had renamed his comic strip J-Cat and Bootzilla, a pair of prisoners on an island that looked a lot like Alcatraz who were incessantly trying to escape. Here, they’ve made it out for a while, but they’ll be back.

On Feb. 4, 1998, we took a deep breath and dared to begin publishing the Bay View every week instead of the twice a month schedule of our first six years. From the beginning, we’ve never had the funds to hire a real staff, though countless great writers have generously shared their work with our readers. Today, we’d love to resume printing the paper weekly, which we had to suspend in 2008, when we lost everything in a foreclosure.

But even more critical is to make plans for the Bay View to live on beyond Mary and me. I’m 83 and she’s 76, and the pace of publishing stories daily on our website and monthly in print is getting harder and harder to maintain. We’d love to hear from anyone with ideas for making the Bay View sustainable.

On Sept. 5, 1997, the Bay View graduated from a tabloid to a big broadsheet newspaper with the banner headline, “10,000 cross Golden Gate Bridge” to overturn anti-affirmative action Proposition 209. Black economic power was – and still is – under massive attack.

I’ve always preached that winning Black economic power is the solution to most of the other plagues on the Black community, and as a lifelong contractor, licensed since 1967, I’ve fought for Blacks – we who built this country – to perform a major share of pubic construction work. When provided by Black contractors, construction jobs give a better-than-living-wage income to our people regardless of their academic and criminal records.

“Hunters Point power plant will shut down” was the banner headline on July 15, 1998, over a story written by Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. announcing, “In recognition of the City’s commitment to the long-term revitalization of the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood, the City and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. have reached an unprecedented agreement whereby the 69-year-old Hunters Point will be permanently closed.”

Oh, how we had fought that nasty plant, the oldest in the state, which blanketed the north side of Hunters Point Hill with toxins that had children up all night with nosebleeds and rashes. My editorial that week was headlined “Confirmation of our power.”

But even more critical is to make plans for the Bay View to live on beyond Mary and me. I’m 83 and she’s 76, and the pace of publishing stories daily on our website and monthly in print is getting harder and harder to maintain. We’d love to hear from anyone with ideas for making the Bay View sustainable.

It was about this time that Kevin Weston, revolutionary journalist and pied piper to a generation of radical mediamakers, whose beautiful life was taken by leukemia last year, began filling one or two of the Bay View’s cultural pages each week with wild commentary, poems and graphics he called Anti-Verses. I’m proud of all the Bay View’s cultural coverage and promotion of brilliant Black talent and trends.

The banner headline “Terror at the Airport” on Sept. 2, 1998, topped a picture of the hangman’s noose found in the jobsite trailer of my company, Liberty Builders, that signaled the lockout of Blacks from construction in San Francisco – a lockout that continues to this day. As head of the African American Contractors of San Francisco, I’d worked with the Willie Brown administration to ensure the participation of Blacks and other contractors of color on the multi-billion dollar airport expansion, and most of our members had won multi-million-dollar contracts, the largest of their careers.

However, as they would arrive with their crews to begin work, they were greeted with death threats, leaving Liberty Builders the only Black contactor at SFO and the target of some of the craziest harassment I’d ever seen. But my all-Black crew braved personal life-threatening attacks and topped the five-story building off early, though work had been several months behind schedule when we started.

The noose was our reward, sparking a firestorm of Black protest, led by then San Francisco NAACP President Alex Pitcher, who had fought lynching as a young civil rights attorney in Louisiana. In succeeding weeks, ace reporter Lee Hubbard chronicled Pitcher’s success in persuading the FBI to investigate and the Board of Supervisors to hold hearings. “Discrimination is alive, kicking and doing well, even in the so-called City of St. Francis,” said then Supervisor Amos Brown, now head of the SF NAACP. Media Alliance gave us an award for the series.

“The noose and the newspaper,” my editorial on Oct. 14, 1998, began: “The tactics being used by the San Francisco International Airport, the Human Rights Commission and large general contractors – the good ol’ boys club – to keep the construction industry segregated are also threatening to put the San Francisco Bay View newspaper out of business. They see the Bay View’s role in informing, uniting and championing the rights of African Americans to public contracts and jobs as an attack on their supremacy, and they want the paper silenced.

“From the time we bought the paper in 1992 my construction company, Liberty Builders, substantially subsidized the Bay View because the paper didn’t make enough money from advertising to cover the costs of printing and distribution. But Hensel Phelps Construction Co., the folks who brought us the noose, put a stop to that. For the past 18 months that Liberty Builders worked as their concrete subcontractor at the airport, Hensel Phelps never paid us a single progress payment.”

But ultimately, as reported by Brother Jahahara on Nov. 25, 1998, the prime contractor, Hensel Phelps, which had hung the noose in Liberty Builders’ trailer, was cleared of discrimination charges by the city’s Human Rights Commission, and SFPD wouldn’t even call it a hate crime. Showing Blacks under attack on the justice front as well as the economic front, another front page headline that week read, “Protests increase as death warrant looms: ‘All out to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.’”

Happier news was in the March 3, 1999, banner headline: “Read your Bay View on the world wide web:” That website was created and the story written by our daughter, Kenya Ratcliff. The Bay View was one of the first newspapers on the internet. We were already there when Google came along, and when you search for a topic we’ve covered, you’ll often find the Bay View’s story ranked up there with stories from the New York Times and the Washington Post.

We were already there when Google came along, and when you search for a topic we’ve covered, you’ll often find the Bay View’s story ranked up there with stories from the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The March 10, 1999, front page asked “Who needs a Master?” decrying San Francisco’s decision to give the Hunters Point Shipyard, which had been undergoing toxic cleanup all that decade, to a “master developer.” Sure enough, Lennar, the “master” they chose, has been a curse on this community.

Another headline that week, “North Beach housing residents fight removal” was part of our constant coverage during that decade of public and subsidized housing residents’ struggle to keep – and to own – their own homes and community, while government at every level was moving to privatize and destroy them. A federal law allowing residents to organize, gradually take over management and eventually own their development as a co-op was carried further toward victory in San Francisco than in most other parts of the country, and the brutal way it was put down intensified the turf wars that have plagued the Black community ever since.

On March 17, 1999, the banner headline, “98% of City contracts go to out-of-town white male-owned firms,” condemned San Francisco’s economic racism that, along with police occupation and gentrification, has pushed the Black population down to near 3 percent today. “Communities hit by crack cocaine epidemic sue CIA” on the same March 17, 1999, front page was part of our coverage of the U.S. government’s campaign to rid itself of Black power.

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Warren Wells, a leading member of the Black Panther Party who came from Hunters Point, was a political prisoner when he wrote many astute reports for the Bay View on the horrors of California prisons, including the Corcoran gladiator fights. From our first issue, we dropped papers for people locked up in San Francisco County Jail, and they introduced the paper to state prisons when they were convicted and sent there. It was courageous writers in California prisons who began to use the Bay View to reveal the terrible oppression. Today it remains the only paper in the country widely distributed both inside and outside prisons, facilitating dialog, planning and organizing nationwide to win real justice.

A photo of youths, fists raised, headlined “Up in arms over Mumia, Prop 21 and Amadou,” graced the March 1, 2000, front page – evidence of the rising power of young people, enraged at Prop 21 that enables California to condemn children to adult prisons. Bay View readers today know that many of those children were nurtured by older prisoners to become some of the keenest minds bent on abolishing prison in the long term and reforming it meanwhile.

“Toxic fire at HP Shipyard” bellowed the banner headline on Sept. 13, 2000. Federal law requires that the process of closing a military base, cleaning up the toxic mess left behind and developing the land must, first and foremost, benefit the people who live around the base. Since the people surrounding the Hunters Point Shipyard are poor and Black, the Navy and the City see the current residents not as beneficiaries but as obstacles to the upscale development they prefer.

So when multicolored flames and smoke billowed from the Shipyard’s largest landfill, one of the most toxic landfills in the U.S., full of radioactive and chemical toxins, the Navy and the City tried to hush the media, but the Bay View wouldn’t hush. When the fire flared again in July 2001, Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D., who would soon be named the Bay View’s health and environmental science editor, had begun to shake up the political establishment with her rare combination of medical, scientific and journalistic skills infused with courage.

“20,000 gone: Stop the exodus” reports “Black population in SF drops 23% since 1990” on the April 11, 2001, front page. “Prop P becomes official City policy” headlines my editorial on Aug. 15, 2001, reporting that 87 percent of San Francisco voters supported prohibiting development of the Shipyard until it is thoroughly clean. Lennar’s current development is moving residents onto a Shipyard that is nowhere close to clean.

“Idriss Stelley supporters demand end to cover-up,” also on that front page, updates the story we broke on June 20, 2001, that set the Bay Area on course to be a major national innovator in response to police terror. From the moment her son and only child, Idriss Stelley, was executed by SFPD, Mesha Irizarry has fought relentlessly for justice for all the victims and their families.

“No police in our schools!” marks the first front page story by JR Valrey, now known as the people’s minister of information, in the June 27, 2001, Bay View. He quotes Askari X in “Ward of the State”: “The police ain’t nothing but another organized oppressive army occupying our community.”

On Oct. 17, 2001, is a theme initially struck on our very first front page nearly a decade earlier, “3rd Street rail must be built for us by us.” Devastated by the mass murder of Black construction expertise during the SFO debacle in 1998, however, nearly all Black contractors were out of business, so Black workers were also locked out. While I had always seen the construction of Third Street light rail as an economic opportunity for Bayview Hunters Point – “Muni is our mitigation” headlined my editorial on Jan. 9, 2002 – City Hall used it as a means to speed BVHP’s gentrification.

The banner headline on Jan. 16,  2002, “Muni’s Third St. work privatized,” has a series of check marks next to “No resident hire, no affirmative action, no prevailing wage, no union, no competitive bidding, no community notification whatsoever – nothing but parking tickets, lost business, dust, noise – no jobs but flagging for a non-union contractor.”

Devastated by the mass murder of Black construction expertise during the SFO debacle in 1998, however, nearly all Black contractors were out of business, so Black workers were also locked out.

We later learned that Muni, San Francisco’s public transit system, had chosen not to do for Third Street’s then mostly Black businesses what it had done in every other commercial corridor torn up by major construction and apply for available federal funds to keep those businesses alive when few customers could reach them. That decision killed many Black businesses, the bedrock of Black economic power.

One of our all-time most powerful front pages came out on Feb. 6, 2002, with the banner headline, “Police to parents whose children they were beating: ‘As long as you people are here, we will act like this.’” I called my editorial “Gentrification by terror” when, on Martin Luther King Day up on Kiska Road families were relaxing after a community barbeque and police attacked 12-14-year-old children peacefully sitting in a car listening to music.

I wrote: “What I believe (the cop quoted in the headline) meant was, ‘We are carrying out orders to beat you and your children under color of law whenever we please. We are telling you, take a Section 8 certificate and get yourself and your family the hell out of here, because the big greedy developers want your space, your view, your land on the sunny side of San Francisco, to make money for themselves – and they don’t care about you.’”

That issue, marking my 10th anniversary as publisher, featured the photos of 28 contributing writers, many still writing. I extend my deepest gratitude to all the writers who have blessed us with their work all these years. Another striking front page was our first in color, dated June 5, 2002. The featured story, about “Mrs. Sloan, who washed dishes for 30 years to buy four homes for her extended family, loses them to county conservator,” was written by Lisa Gray-Garcia, lovingly known as Tiny of the Poor News Network, a treasured companion in our efforts to liberate journalism.

On June 26, 2002, Terone Ward’s glorious new masthead made its debut – bright green and sun-splashed, the same one we still use. Terone’s arrival as webmaster and layout designer ushered in a new era that saw the Bay View increasingly written by and for our youth. Only 19 then, Terone was already the father of two adorable little boys, who often came to work with him.

JR, too, worked out of the Bay View “newsroom,” the living room of our little flat that was often crowded with young folks – among them Apollonia Jordan, only a teenager when she started writing and taking photos for the Bay View, who’s now back covering the SFPD execution of Mario Woods.

The Oct. 2, 2002, front page was topped with JR’s review of “Bay View Appreciation Night,” celebrating my 70th birthday at D’wayne Wiggins’ Jahva House in Oakland with music by D’wayne and Askari X. At the bottom of the front page, JR and Terone collaborated on a colorful panel with a monthly theme, a tradition we continue today.

This history of the Bay View will also be continued. I hope you’ve enjoyed walking down memory lane with me and that you’ll be inspired to join me and the Bay View in seeking the justice and enlightenment to build a better world.

Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff can be reached at or 415-671-0789.