Black History Celebration at Bayview Access Point

by Lee Hubbard

Bayview Access Point staff celebrate a year helping families avoid homelessness.

San Francisco is a city full of Black history, which can be seen in the day to day lives of ordinary people, according to world renowned actor Danny Glover, who was the keynote speaker for the one year anniversary ceremony for the Bayview Access Point.

Located at the corner of Third and LaSalle streets, the Bayview Access Point, which is part of Catholic Charities, helps families stay in their homes and finds housing for homeless families, ranging from market rate housing, to Section 8, to low income housing.

Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church, has been fighting passionately for economic and social justice his whole life. – Photo: Harrison Chastang

On hand for the Black History ceremony along with Glover was Jilma Meneses, the CEO of Catholic Charities, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Dr. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church.

“I can remember working on Third Street in the early 1970s with the Model Cities Program and seeing the drive people had to make things better in this community,” remarked Glover.

Born and raised in San Francisco, long before he was an actor, Glover was a student at San Francisco State and then an activist and a worker in San Francisco, helping to change people’s lives. The Bayview Access Point is also trying to help change and improve people’s lives, according to Meneses of Catholic Charities.

“Our ceremony has brought people together and it helped to recognize the history of the Bayview and African Americans in the community,” said Meneses. “We have a lot of more work to do for the future. Catholic Charities is here to serve the community and to make a difference with the services we provide.”

Speaking at Bayview Access Point’s celebration of its first anniversary and Black History Month, Mayor London Breed lifted everyone’s spirits. Under her leadership, the long history of hostility by San Francisco’s City Hall toward Blacks is changing quickly. – Photo: Harrison Chastang

In the remarks she made at the Black History Celebration, Mayor London Breed talked about growing up in San Francisco in a Black community. She mentioned that the community has changed due to gentrification and the decline by almost 10 percent of the Black population, which stood at 6 percent in the last census.

“The Bayview community is important to me, as the folks in this community played a key role in my success,” said Mayor Breed. “Even though I am the first African American woman mayor, we need to make sure I am not the last one.”

Mayor Breed mentioned the mentorship she received from Gloria Davis, who helped her fill out college applications and give her professional advice when she was growing up.

“When I grew up in public housing, I never knew what was possible,” continued Mayor Breed. “I was given an opportunity by Miss Davis, who was a mentor to me.”

She said that type of mentorship is important within the Black community and that “we need to get back to basics” and help people who need help.

Glover also reminisced on the old San Francisco and how his parents went from public housing to buying a home in the Western Addition. He said that’s not possible in today’s times, due to the high cost of housing. He said that San Francisco needs more affordable housing.

Danny Glover, a favorite son who learned to act at the Bayview Opera House, takes his activism even more seriously than his acting career and gives strong support to a variety of worthy causes. – Photo: Harrison Chastang

“I want to applaud our new mayor and her emphasis on building more affordable housing,” said Glover. “But we have to demand that Mayor Breed do more and if she does more, that means we have to do more.”

While Black history was talked about, the role of the Bayview Access Point in a changing and expensive community was also stressed. The center helps families with housing issues. Sometimes they can stop evictions by helping to pay back rent, providing security deposits for families or dealing with property managers to set up payment arrangements. At this Access Point, 50 percent of the people served have been African Americans.

Mayor Breed said that housing is something that needs to be fought for in San Francisco. She mentioned a $300 million bond that she is fighting to go on the ballot in the next election.

Actor Danny Glover and journalist Lee Hubbard pose for a picture.

“We fought for neighborhood preference legislation. We have to build more housing in San Francisco,” continued Breed. “Yes, there is much to celebrate during Black History Month. But we still have much work to do. Families and people are struggling and they are counting on us.”

Lee Hubbard is a Bay Area journalist who earned his masters’ degree in journalism at Northeastern University. Well known to longtime Bay View readers, he can be reached at superle@sbcglobal.net.