Nathaniel Mason, Jr., used his many interests in different fields to positively affect his local community in the Western Addition of San Francisco. Although he lived much of his life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he made a home for himself in San Francisco. Mason served in many positions in San Francisco. He held positions spanning from San Francisco Unified School District to the San Francisco Police Department to the NAACP, a civil rights organization known worldwide.
Mason was raised, the oldest of his siblings, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by his parents, Nathaniel Mason, Sr. and Ida Spooner Mason. His father was a laborer who worked for the Standard Oil Company. During his undergraduate education, Mason pledged to Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, showing involvement in his local community even as a college student. He said in an interview that while he learned so much from his parents growing up in Louisiana, the biggest thing that stuck with him that he learned growing up was to “have respect for your elders and get your education because that’s the only way you will get ahead in life” (SF Bayview). Mason certainly followed through on this advice from his parents. He would later influence his community by serving as a school teacher, a Head Start director for the City of San Francisco, and later a vice chair for the San Francisco Unified School District Affirmative Action Committee.
Mason had a clear influence on the community through his work in local departments. During his career he was also served, at various points, as a postman, a sheriff , and then a police officer for the City and County of San Francisco. He also participated in several organizations that promote the advancement of specifically the African American communities of San Francisco. Mason was also at one point chairman of the board of the Martin Luther King, Jr., and Marcus Garvey Square Cooperative, Inc., a housing program aiding members of the community who were low-income, usually African American, who purchased and rented apartments. He was also a member of the California Affirmative Action Council, in charge of promoting diversity within the state of California.
Nathaniel Mason served in many capacities, including Head Start director, director of the Economic Opportunity Council, on the Voter Education Committee, and on the Political Action Committee of the San Francisco Black Leadership Forum.
Later on he served as the chair of the Labor and Industry Committee of the NAACP, while also serving as a member of the NAACP’s Publicity Committee. The many accomplishments and positions he held in organizations designed to improve the lives of African Americans all over California showed that he was very involved—he was indeed a perfect example of what community engagement truly means.
Mason also held many other positions that strived to benefit the Fillmore, San Francisco, and the State of California. He was also a member of the Client Council of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, a non-profit corporation that did what they could to help all members of the community in having proper access to legal services and justice. The organization was established by Congress in 1974. Mason was also a member of the Voter Education Committee and the Political Action Committee of the San Francisco Black Leadership Forum, influencing local politics and government as well.
Lastly, Mason also held the position as director of the Economic Opportunity Council of San Francisco. Mason accomplished many things while having held all of these positions in his community and was known for his dedication in influencing the community in any way that he could.
Nathaniel Mason passed away in Oakland on September 21, 2016, at the age of 87. His influence on the community through his many contributions to different organizations will surely live on. Mason was described as having a strong personality and having “lived his life to the fullest,” as reported by the San Francisco Bay View. Mason was known for doing things his way and striving to influence others no matter what role he played in his many lifetime accomplishments.
— Kristen Williams
Multifamilyexecutive.com. 2016. “Nathaniel Mason Jr., Pillar of the Community.” San Francisco Bay View. 26 Sep 2016.