In many newsrooms, “the homeless” is a well-worn catchphrase for the often-anonymous people on the street or in shelters. But many professionals who work with these populations on a daily basis find the term offensive and misleading.
“This is the San Francisco Americans pretend does not exist,” James Baldwin said on KQED more than half a century ago.
Baldwin, a world-renowned black writer and activist, was referring to the Fillmore district of San Francisco, where he and KQED documented the after-effects city bulldozing, literally, black neighborhoods in the name of “urban renewal,” and the unemployment and isolation of young blacks in Hunters Point.
“There is no moral distance between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham,” Baldwin said in the same year of the 16th street Baptist church bombing that killed four little girls in Birmingham, Ala.
Since then, the number of black residents of San Francisco has shrunk by nearly half. Black children are grossly over-represented in San Francisco’s foster care and juvenile justice systems, and unemployment among blacks in San Francisco still remains higher than in other groups.
Hank Drew, The Public Press — Jun 19 2009 - 1:52pm
The 59th annual San Francisco Juneteenth activities will begin this weekend with a community and media reception event Saturday at 12 p.m. Visit http://www.sfjuneteenth.org/service.htm. The San Francisco festival is the largest gathering of African-Americans in Northern California and began in the early '50s when Wesley Johnson Sr., once owner of the Texas Playhouse on Fillmore Street, invited all Bay Area African-Americans to celebrate June 19 in his lounge.