Hope and resolve

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By Steven T. Jones
Sharen Hewitt -- the SF activist perhaps most associated with finding solutions to street violence -- was being honored with a rose when I walked into the Prop. A party at Powell's Place in the Fillmore. The barbecue smelled great, and when Sharen came toward the back of a room filled with multihued activists and community leaders, she encouraged me to dig in. It was delicious, and the program that followed was inspirational -- and marked by a poignant reminder of what this campaign was about. For less than an hour later, Hewitt left the table with her three grandchildren and the room filled with her kindred spirits to attend to business: Another 16-year-old kid had been shot on Sunnydale Avenue and was on his way to the hospital.

Despite the somber undertones of the issue, this was a great party that concluded a campaign of hope and fierce determination. As we ate tasty fried chicken, greens, mac and cheese, and cornbread at perhaps the best barbecue joint in the Fillmore, congressional candidate Krissy Keefer danced in the window to some live taiko drumming, elicting grins from the nearest table, which included Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, activists Julian Davis and Nicole Derse, and others. The mood was buoyant as the first results were read: With absentees only reporting, the measure had 47 percent support. It was almost an appropriate start for the emotional roller-coaster of a program that followed.

The gospel came first, with singer Worlanda Dorn-Mullins belting a call for "healing for your soul." Supporters and groups were thanked for their hard work, including the San Francisco People's Organization and the League of Pissed Off Voters. Then Mattie Scott took the mic, bringing the perspective of a mother whose son was gunned down right down the street. George Scott had been a progressive activist until the very day he died, she told the crowd, arguing on his last day of life against housing in the Fillmore being torn down. And she was proud to have this campaign be part of his legacy.

"Look at this room. This is exactly what Dr. King was talking about," Scott said. "We have to be pissed off and angry until every child gets their fair share."

"Everyone should feel great because tonight's going to be a great night," said Mirkarimi, up next. "One of the most exciting things that happened this year was this campaign."