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Remember the many years Marie Harrison owned the back page of the Bay View? She defined what “speaking truth to power” means. With headlines like “We’ve always survived your whip and your noose,” and observations like “Voter education isn’t just somebody educating the voters. It’s the voters educating the people they elect,” as we carry on without her, we must infuse every fight with her courage.
“Three African-American construction workers said this week that they were targeted by racial slurs and death threats, including black dolls hanging from nooses in the bathroom, while working on the site of a San Francisco high-rise,” reported the New York Times after renowned civil rights attorney John Burris, who’s representing the workers, held a June 21 press conference. That the issue is important enough for a major story in the New York Times will, we hope, catch the attention of the powers that be in San Francisco.
The most elegant event we’ve ever attended was the San Francisco Housing Development Corp.’s 30th Anniversary Gala at the wondrous California Academy of Sciences – yes, guests could see the exhibits! – on Friday, May 11. We, Dr. Willlie and Mary Ratcliff, were invited to accept the Power of Words award, and we were thrilled to be presented it by SFHDC Board Member Dorris Vincent, an old friend and a pillar of the Bayview Hunters Point community. These are her remarks:
Nobody did London Breed any favors at Tuesday’s board meeting. Not the supervisors who swept her out of the mayor’s office that had been given to her by the city charter and not Ron Conway and the big money boys whose overly aggressive support was the screen the supervisors hid their racism behind. So London heads into the June election owing nothing to anybody, only the people of San Francisco, including the most needy. We can win it and we will! Join us soon at the London Breed for Mayor campaign headquarters. Endorse London on her website, www.londonformayor.com, and contact her campaign by email at email@example.com and phone at 415-LONDON1.
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
It’s 2016, 40 years since Muhammad al-Kareem founded the New Bayview, now renamed the San Francisco Bay View, in 1976. Inspired by Malcolm X, he wanted to bring a newspaper like Muhammad Speaks to Bayview Hunters Point. He’ll tell the story of those early years, and I’ll pick it up now at the point when my wife Mary and I took over in 1992. Watching our first paper roll through the huge two-story tall lumbering old press at Tom Berkley’s Post Newspaper Building on Feb. 3, 1992, was a feel-like-flying thrill we’ll never forget.
If President Trump’s $1 trillion plan materializes in some shape, form or fashion, highly capable Black contractors will be virtually shut out of public sector contracting as they were during George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s administrations. Qualified Black-owned businesses received a disproportionate sliver of federal stimulus contracts, creating a rising chorus of demands for President Barack Obama’s administration to be more inclusive and more closely track who receives government-financed work, which they did not.
Anthony Ratcliff died on July 23, 2016, after a valiant fight against throat and lung cancer. He was born in Oakland, California, on May 18, 1956, to mother Geneva Cleopatra Draper Ratcliff, a homemaker (now deceased), and father Dr. Willie Ratcliff, a contractor and publisher of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. Anthony was greatly beloved and will be sorely missed. His homegoing service is Friday, July 29, 1 p.m., at Common Ground Covenant Church, Sacramento.
Community activist, retired civil service employee and U.S. Navy veteran, we have lost a great man. Michael went on to live with the Lord. His memory and legacy of helping others and claiming their self-worth is immeasurable. For those of us fortunate enough to know Mike, failure was not an option. He never gave up on life, people or family! Michael will forever be missed by those of us he leaves behind.
Daryle Washington is the victim of a racist employer who has jeopardized his ability to provide for himself and his five children. According to Mr. Washington, he is not the only one mistreated by this employer, Recology Corp. of San Francisco. There has been a pattern of poor training, physical stress, injuries and emotional distress of racial jokes and remarks, as well as nooses placed in full view of Black employees.
Last week, rather than allow Marcus Books family members to relocate after evicting them, the Sweis family stole all of the books and used sledge hammers to smash the book shelves and furniture. To the Black community, this is a repeat of history, where invaders come in time and time again to smash the symbols and evidence of a people’s greatness. This will NOT be tolerated. Will you stand with us and DEMAND the Sweises respect our history? We need to pressure the Sweises to do the decent thing.
Black people have largely been locked out of construction work in San Francisco since 1998. That’s a shame, because construction work is a solution to many of the ills in the Black community. Construction wages are high, and when Black contractors have work, they are generally eager to train Black workers regardless of their school, police or prison records.
The long journey to an equitable pathway for community workers and contractors at San Francisco Unified has seen great progress over the past year; and the same policy makers, community members, labor leaders and community contractors that brought us this far appear poised to carry a torch now held by many across the line between longstanding hope and a truly historic reality.
RUMEC has been at the forefront of the new labor movement. We would like to unify our people through construction, religion, art, music and education. We seek the liberation from outside forces that foment ignorance, oppression and poverty. We aspire to escalate into an established position of recognition and respect as an independent, all inclusive institution that represents our striving people.
It has been five short months since dozens of unemployed Black workers and contractors protested exclusion of Blacks from demolition and demanded inclusion of Blacks in the rebuilding of Bayview’s Willie Brown Middle School. Now SFUSD plans to ask the School Board at their meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12, 6 p.m., at 555 Franklin, First Floor, to AWARD THE $44.6 MILLION CONTRACT FOR WILLIE BROWN SCHOOL TO A MAJOR WHITE CONTRACTOR without competitive bidding. Pack the meeting! Protest economic racism!
On the corner of Third and Revere, where the Bayview Library used to be, nothing is left but bare ground. One of the few places in the neighborhood where youngsters felt safe and enriched and everyone was welcome is gone. If the City had allowed the low bidder to build the new library, it would have been at least halfway to completion by now. The youngsters who love the library would be watching their parents and older brothers and sisters build a beautiful new library for them to return to in a matter of months. Liberty Builders, my general contracting company, was that low bidder.
Minutes after the outrageous police killing of 19-year-old Kenneth Harding a stone’s throw from my home and office, I joined the crowd and for two hours listened to the witnesses, shared the anger and echoed the calls for unity. Let us demand the right to “own and operate and control the economy of our community,” as Brother Malcolm advised. Now – right now – is the time for us to prove that it’s not the police, it’s not the prison guards or the big developers who have the power to impoverish and enslave us and drive us off our land. The ultimate power belongs to the people, and we will use it.
While Assemblymember Jerry Hill and his controversial anti-local hiring bill AB 356 were busy drawing statewide opposition, the counties of San Francisco and San Mateo were calmly settling their differences for the betterment of workers in both jurisdictions. “There has been one positive thing resulting from the AB 356 debate: It has united leaders and communities all over the state to say that local hire is crucial to economic recovery,” said Greenlining Institute general counsel Samuel Kang. “Jerry Hill awoke a sleeping giant. By trying to kill local hire, he’s only made it stronger.”
A sea of overwhelming opposition in cities from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles has risen against San Mateo Assemblymember Jerry Hill and his anti-local hiring measure, Assembly Bill 356, which threatens state funding for any California city with a local hiring policy.
After many months of discussions with the City regarding the rescission of an award to rebuild the Bayview Library, Liberty Builders has retained San Francisco civil rights attorney DeWitt Lacy to pursue legal remedies for discriminatory breach of contract.
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