Mother Brown’s serves up respect on the day of gratitude

Jameel Patterson of the New Community Leadership Foundation greets Dr. Willie Ratcliff on Thanksgiving Day at Mother Brown’s, where Jameel is a peer advisor. – Photo: Nube Brown

by Nube Brown

I had the pleasure and honor of driving Dr. Willie Ratcliff, longtime publisher of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, to Mother Brown’s, two pillars in the community, to participate in the Thanksgiving food offering by the unsung-by-the-mainstream-media heroes to residents of the Bayview. 

COVID-19 denied us the opportunity to gather with one another, but we still found ways to acknowledge and laugh with each other. Jameel Patterson of New Community Leadership Foundation made it clear “everyone should know Dr. Willie Ratcliff!” and I handed out papers to the people asking for or wondering about it. 

Javian Caston, a young volunteer at Mother Brown’s, serves Dr. Willie Ratcliff his dinner on Thanksgiving Day. – Photo: Nube Brown

Ever diligent and respectful of the need for social distancing and masks, these folks held it down like they were mentored by the best – because they were. The love and care for the community by the volunteers and the pride in their service was apparent, even as the matriarch bosses – Gwendolyn Westbrook and Arieann Harrison – were away. 

Mother Brown’s embodies and instills – respect, care and seeing the best in everyone.

I was not surprised but still delighted to see a young adult at the front. Javian Caston, clad in his backpack, was handing out the boxed, homemade food to go and addressing Dr. Willie as “sir.” Javian informed Dr. Willie he could sign the veterans’ sign-in sheet. 

Volunteers at Mother Brown’s are heroes to the community. These volunteers are Willie Thomas and Ruben Burney. – Photo: Nube Brown

You see, this is what Mother Brown’s embodies and instills – respect, care and seeing the best in everyone who finds themselves at its door.

For a celebration of a day that is now fraught with controversy, it was refreshing to see a simple show of gratitude and care when the media wasn’t looking – except us.

Bay View Managing Editor Nube Brown is a New Abolitionist and activist who also works with California Prison Focus and is facilitator of Liberate the Caged Voices. She co-leads the Free Sitawa! Campaign to Promote the Prisoner Human Rights Movement and hosts Prison Focus Radio on KPOO 89.5 San Francisco and every Thursday 11:00 to noon. Connect with her at