by Lin Robertson, MPA
Mayor Ed Lee signed a proclamation that Feb. 9 will remain Dr. Espanola Jackson Day in San Francisco long after she passed away in 2016. Her birthday would serve as a reminder that Black woman power would continue to ring loud in policies that are still on the books today at City Hall.
Her voice was always consistent, fighting for local jobs and small business opportunities in the Bayview and similar San Francisco neighborhoods. Developers know that if they want to build anything in San Francisco today, they have to comply with a local hire mandate unheard of until Dr. Jackson insisted that “good faith effort” lip service was simply not good enough.
Dr. Jackson showed up at every opportunity to fight for permanent access to the Southeast Community Center at 1800 Oakdale in Bayview Hunters Point. The Contractors Assistance Center by the SFPUC also brought to life the Community Benefits Policy that demanded our ability to participate and be heard, not only by giving feedback during townhall meetings before projects were allowed to begin, but also with boots on the ground as union apprentices and journeymen for prevailing wages required by our state.
Because of her inspiration, job training opportunity programs continue to be implemented at CityBuild with training for minority women interested in construction management and other non-traditional roles for good pay in public works.
Her daughter, Gwendolyn Jackson Fagan, was there when Espanola sat up in her deathbed to make her final demands and ensure that we got what was promised by City commissioners and public executives in San Francisco. Her legacy solidified the true meaning of leadership and service as part of relevant Black history for our community. Mayor Lee’s 2016 City Proclamation was signed not long before he would join Dr. Espanola Jackson as one of the most important icons who sought to improve our lives until their very last breath.
Thank you, Espanola, for everything you’ve done to make this a better place, long before Black Lives Matter was recognized as not just a slogan, but a necessary emphasis for affirmative action we still need today to combat systemic racism, poverty and economic injustice. Thank you for being the example to follow, from Third Street to City Hall, on our journey towards The Promised Land. We are on our way.
Lin Robertson, MPA, is CEO of The Labor Compliance Managers, a member of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce and senior producer at internationalmediatv.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.