“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
-Dr. Carter G. Woodson
What does it mean to produce history, rather than consume it? And how can the production of history serve present-day communities? Nearly a century ago, the Harvard-trained historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson proposed an answer to these questions. Devoting his life’s work to researching and writing the histories of Black workers, leaders and communities, Woodson made an impassioned case for the significance of history. That case rested on his fundamental belief that telling the particular history of African Africans, through their brightest and their darkest moments, would inspire his contemporaries to continue the struggle for justice and equality in the early twentieth century. This project stems from the same belief—that documenting and telling the dynamic history and rich legacy of community organizing in The Fillmore through the voices of its residents, leaders and activists, can serve to inspire and strengthen our shared resolve to build healthier urban Black communities by improving access to mental and physical health services, affordable housing, jobs and education.
The Fillmore Activist Project documents the hard work done over time by activist groups in the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco and the surrounding community of the Western Addition. Working in small groups, an African American Studies class and the Media Studies Senior Seminar classes at the University of San Francisco visited local archives, collected data, conducted interviews, and observed and recorded the work of local community partners. We created media from these rich materials and compiled all of our work onto this website. Along the way, we learned a great deal from our community partners. Their extraordinary examples of activism and commitment to serving and strengthening the Fillmore have strengthened our own resolve to become community leaders and activists throughout our lifetimes.
This website, created by students at the University of San Francisco, in both the Media Studies class and the African American Studies, Community Engagement: Fillmore, highlights the historical emergence of activist organizations within the Western Addition. Specifically, the work of The Hamilton Recreation Center, The Western Addition Senior Center, Brothers For Change Inc., and Westside Community Services have fought to combat the systematic disparities currently plaguing the Fillmore. Become an activist! Get involved by introducing yourself to the voices and stories of the Fillmore through oral history interviews, archival photos, and background on current service organizations.