Strategies to reverse the out-migration of African Americans from San Francisco

San Francisco District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce President Fred Jordan and Albert Johnson Jr. meet in Bayview Hunters Point to discuss how to economically strengthen the Black community. – Photo: Ken Johnson

Presented by the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce

by Fred Jordan, Chair 

Introduction

Since the onslaught of the urban removal of African Americans from the Fillmore District by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, the estimated 18 percent population of African Americans in the City has dropped to 3.5 percent. There are significant and shocking reasons why this has taken place. Below are strategies to correct some of the injustices and reverse this tragic out-migration.

See the article by Kevin Epps, “San Francisco Don’t Like Black People,” in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, February 2020.

Strategies

1. Establish a Commission on the Out-Migration of African Americans from San Francisco. The commission would be appointed by the mayor and have power. A paid executive director with staff should be established to intercede in any area that lacks inclusion of African Americans. 

2. Implement the recommendations of the reports on out-migration. The committee appointed by former Mayor Frank Jordan produced the 1993 report, “The Unfinished Agenda: The Economic Status of African Americans in San Francisco 1964-1990,” and the African American Out-Migration Task Force appointed by former Mayor Gavin Newsom produced the “Out-Migration Report” published in 2009, which still occupy their dusty space on the shelf. 

The “Comparative Review and Analysis of Equity and Diversity Reports,” completed in 2011 by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, also has had no follow up. There was no czar or commission to implement the recommendations of these reports. 

3. Publicize that African Americans have held the four most important positions of leadership simultaneously in San Francisco: Mayor London Breed, Board of Supervisors President Malia Cohen, City Administrator Naomi Kelly and Superior Court Supervising Justice Terry Jackson. In addition, we have department heads such as the Chief of Police and the General Manager of Public Utilities. With the affirmative support of these key positions, San Francisco has the power and unique opportunity to reverse the out-migration of African Americans. This also should reassure African American residents and incoming African Americans of an open door for job opportunities, contracting, acceptance as well as a great place for African Americans to live.

4. Review and implement the 13 negotiated settlement demands of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce from the threatened boycott of the San Francisco travel industry in 2013. Sixty political leaders, agency heads, travel and hospitality industry executives and community leaders came together to address the demands of the boycott. A key demand was for one and one-half percent of the hotel tax be allotted to the Black community, but to date there has been little response – mostly a trail of broken promises.

5. Call a Summit to Reverse the Out-Migration of African Americans in the city of San Francisco. Many of the same leaders who met on the boycott would be assembled or appointed with a signed commitment to bring to bear every effort to effect change. District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton has agreed to assist in calling a summit. 

The Planning Commission makes all kinds of deals with developers in Manhattanizing the City of San Francisco by way of gentrification of minority neighborhoods, which has provided few or no benefits to the African American community.

6. Recall the organizations that were established to serve the African American community, such as the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, to their original purpose. If this organization were active in protecting the Black community today as it was in its founding days, the African American community would be much further ahead.

7. Confront the Black appointed San Francisco commissioners who, with only a few exceptions, show no commitment or accountability to the African American community on jobs and contracts at their City agencies.

8. Confront the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission makes all kinds of deals with developers in Manhattanizing the City of San Francisco by way of gentrification of minority neighborhoods, which has provided few or no benefits to the African American community. The commission has provided no commitment of jobs or contracts on billions of construction projects, knowing well the status of the African American communities.

9. Confront the tech and bio-medical companies that have moved into San Francisco with great benefits to the City coffers and nothing but gentrification to the Black community as they import their own employees. They offer few jobs or contracts to the Black community in taking over the Black and minority communities of color. It is reminiscent of the early 1970s onslaught of the Black community in the Fillmore District by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, completely demolishing blocks of housing and businesses, resulting in the displacement of over 50,000 African Americans from their homes and destroying over 180 businesses, including 29 jazz, blues and supper clubs in what was known as the “Harlem of the West.”

10. Insure that the City reestablish Black ownership and development of the Fillmore Heritage Center, the last symbol of culture from a district that was once 95 percent Black. A viable entertainment center is required to bring foot traffic back to the lower Fillmore, where many of the businesses have been negatively impacted with the closure of Yoshi’s Jazz Club. SF Travel should keep its commitment to provide a travel destination for tourist buses to Fillmore and Eddy. Hotel and bed-and-breakfast facilities should be supported by the City along with the West Bay Convention Center. Development plans for the historic old power station should be included. 

11. Address the injustices of the judiciary system, where as high as 60 percent of the jail population has been Black. Black profiling and inequitable, harsher sentences have been applied to Blacks.

12. Provide availability of affordable housing for African Americans and address the gentrification and worthless coupons for promised housing. 

13. Enforce workforce development: For example, The Engineering and Architectural On-The-Job Training Program is a CITY ORDINANCE yet, unbelievably, it is totally unenforced. For every $1 million in City professional fees paid to an architectural or engineering company, the firm is to hire an on-the-job trainee in CADD, construction inspection, testing or other paraprofessional positions. The program management firms for the MTA and PUC should be providing a minimum of 80 new career positions each as a model for hundreds of engineering and architectural firms with smaller contracts.

14. Stop locking out African Americans from construction contracts and jobs. City officials constantly decry inflated costs of construction due to a shortage of construction subcontractors and workers. Yet San Franciscans observe daily the absence of Blacks working on construction projects, a workforce that was highly competitive in prior years. The few who are hired are targeted with nooses and written death threats. City officials must stop ignoring the problem and resolve it.

15. Implement workforce development commitments: As a resolution of the African American Chamber Boycott, the 82-member Hotel Council of San Francisco promised to give priority for African Americans for its over 50 new job openings every week. If the Chamber received the promised one and one-half percent of the hotel tax, it could easily place these jobs in the Black community. 

16. The Hunters Point Shipyard Redevelopment Project was supposed to replace the 90 percent original Black population of Hunters Point. But it didn’t happen and the project is now plagued with the falsification of reports on contamination and radiation by the federal hazardous waste clean-up consultant. With resulting sickness, reparations should be facilitated by the City for the 30 percent resettled residents.

17. Commit to include the African Market Place in the Candlestick development project. The president of Five Points, developers of the Hunters Point Redevelopment Project, has indicated that it would not be a part of Hunters Point Shipyard Development Project but would be placed in the Candlestick development. This should become a reality.

Presented by the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce.

The San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce and its president, Fred Jordan, can be reached at SFAACC, 1485 Bayshore Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94124, 415-749-6400 or fredjordan@fejordan.com