by Etta M. Jones and Lin Robertson
“A people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, the City by the Bay, San Francisco, California, dedicated and celebrated Black History Month. Each year, City officials take a moment to reflect on the contributions made by warriors and trailblazers – African-Americans who made significant contributions not only to the City and County of San Francisco, but to the world. This event, which was sponsored by the San Francisco African-American Historical Society and the Golden Gate Warriors, was well attended by community members, dignitaries and elders present.
The most significant and inspirational part of the program was the audience participation in the singing of our Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was led by students from John O’Connell High School who later performed with song and dance. Also to be commended are the inspirational greetings by President of the Board London Breed as well as District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen. They challenged the community to remain vigilant and continue to advocate for the disenfranchised and marginalized throughout the City. Both leaders received standing ovations following their remarks.
London Breed took the opportunity to proclaim her independence as a candidate for mayor in the June 5 special election. Referring to her fellow supervisors who used tech investor Ron Conway’s support of her as an excuse to oust her from the Mayor’s Office that the city charter assigned to her as president of the Board of Supervisors when Mayor Ed Lee died in office in December, she said at the end of her speech:
“And no, I am nobody’s slave – no white man millionaire slave. So let’s set the record straight: Slavery is over. It’s time for a new day in the City and County of San Francisco. Do not fear Black leadership. We are not about dividing people. We are about bringing people together, and, as mayor, I will continue to do all I can to make sure that my door is open for rich people, for poor people, for Black people, for white people – that’s what a real leader is.”
The keynote speaker, San Francisco State University Professor of Africana Studies Dr. Dawn-Elissa Fischer, also delivered an inspirational message highlighting the achievements of our ancestors and the challenges that we as a people are still confronted with today.
Let us not forget our history, our mission as a people, and our calling to lead and make a difference. Joseph Stalin said, “Take away a people’s knowledge of their history and they are easily persuaded.” Let’s prove to all who are counting on us to forget that we not only remember, but that we will to continue to “lift every voice” and win elections, rebuild our communities and lead by example.
Etta M. Jones is a counselor in the Bay Area. Lin Robertson is founder and managing director of The Labor Compliance Managers and senior producer for International Media TV. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bay View staff contributed to this story.
Following the kick-off of San Francisco’s 2018 celebration of Black History Month in City Hall, International Media TV Senior Producer Lin Robertson speaks with Board of Supervisors President London Breed about her run for Mayor of San Francisco and with District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen about her concerns and plans regarding public housing. – Video: Johnnie Burrell, www.internationalmediatv.com