Black History Month in SF kicks off with dancing, future visions

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By the time I made it to the 2010 Black History Month kickoff ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, on Friday, Feb. 5, California Public Utilities Commissioner Tim Simon was talking about how the African American community can make sure it doesn’t get left on the sidelines in future.

Simon advised folks to know their resources, community and strategy to ensure that people of color are included in the burgeoning Green economy—a topic in keeping with the history-of-black-economic-empowerment theme.

“And I want to encourage all of us to celebrate the month of Black History and teach it to our children, because we could lose this generation,” Smith said, noting that just three blocks away from City Hall in the Western Addition/Filmore, “young men talk about and celebrate it when they reach 25 years old.”

California Public Utilities Commissioner Tim Simon advised folks how not to get left behind in the Green economy.

The community was encouraged to attend the Human Rights Commission’s Feb. 18 meeting in the Bayview and to get involved in the 2010 Census, which will provide temporary, part-time jobs with flexible hours.

Destined to Dance enlivens the corridors of power at San Francisco's City Hall.

And then dancers with Destined to Dance wowed the audience by infusing the typically staid marble corridors of power with a "Swing low, sweet chariot" inspired blend of energy, grace and light-footed gaiety.

After the main program concluded, a who’s who of San Francisco’s black community lingered for a moment to chat.

Sup. Sophie Maxwell told me that she saw the failed attempt to recall her as “democracy at work.” She also repeated earlier statements that she is not yet ready to endorse any of the candidates vying to replace her when she is termed out in January 2011.

“It’s not just about Bayview Hunters Point,” Maxwell observed. “The common thread is the entire District 10 community.”


D. 10 candidates Eric Smith and Tony Kelly smile for the camera.

Kelly told me that to his mind the common thread is that residents of the district, which is home to the worst toxic hot spots in the city, can’t rely on corporations to solve their problems.

“District 10 can think for itself,” Kelly said. “They don’t have to look outside. But to my mind, up until now, the approach in city hall has been that there is no mess in D. 10 that can’t be fixed by a friendly corporation.”

Kelly observed that folks in the eastern neighborhoods came up with a better revitalization plan than what the city proposed, and that community activists managed to close the power plant, after the city said it was impossible.

“We have the worst schools, transportation and pollution,” Kelly said. “Candidates in the D. 10 race tend to fall into one of two groups: those that are responsive to Lennar and PG&E’s plans, and those who oppose them.”

D. 10 candidate Kristine Enea, who attended the Navy’s Feb. 2 "community involvement plan" meeting at the Bayview YMCA told me that at least the Navy showed some willingness to let the community speak at that meeting,

Chris Jackson San Francisco Community College Board Trustee chats with D. 10 candidates Tony Kelly and Kristine Enea.

“But they need to stop being so defensive,” Enea said, as she questioned why the Navy refuses to speak in public about why it dissolved the Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board.

D 10 candidate Lynette Sweet told me that she thought California PUC commissioner Tim Simon “hit it on the head with his comments," at the Black History Month kickoff event.

D. 10 candidate Lynette Sweet poses for the camera.

“We’re not the sum of our parts, we’re not murderers and poverty pimps, there is some real leadership and quality people within our community,” Sweet observed.