Dr. Zuretti Goosby. Image courtesy of African American Historical and Cultural Society.

Awarded the title of Man of the Year by The Sun-Reporter in 1970, Dr. Zuretti Lee Goosby dedicated his life to being a community activist in the Bay Area. Goosby was born October 19, 1922, in Oakland. He received his B.A. at the University of California, Berkeley, and D.D.S. at University of California, San Francisco. He worked as a dentist for about 30 years through his private practice. He also served as Army Lieutenant in World War II and a military dentist during the Vietnam War. He later found a passion for the public school system and joined the San Francisco Board of Education. Dr. Goosby dedicated much of his time and effort on the board maintaining an avenue for communication between the residents of the city and the board. Goosby’s mission was to create a better, more inclusive environment for the people of San Francisco.

Getting into a position to facilitate change was a battle on its own for Goosby. In 1967, the mayor at that time, John Shelley, replaced James E. Stratten with Dr. Zuretti L. Goosby on the San Francisco School Board which created backlash. According to writer Alan Cline, Dr. Goosby stated that his goal was to address “the [community’s] need for spending more money on education and to find money from sources other than property tax.” Dr. Goosby entered the political scene in San Francisco during a key moment in history. He was the first black member of San Francisco’s Board of Education.

Dr. Zuretti Goosby served on the Board of Education for 12 years while supporting other groups like the San Francisco Airport Commission, the Airport Museum Board, the Human Rights Commission, the Exploratorium board, and the War Memorial Board, where he “served with great distinction,” according to Mayor Willie Brown.

Dr. Zuretti Goosby saw an unfair system where people of color were not taken seriously as candidates when applying for jobs that they were qualified for. San Francisco Examiner writer Dick Alexander mentioned that during Dr. Goosby’s first year on the Board of Education, he proved himself to be a strong advocate for the promotion of qualified black people in their relative fields. For example, when Dr. Wilson Riles applied to be the San Francisco school superintendent, Dr. Goosby made a brave statement in front of the entire board advocating for him. Endorsing Riles was controversial and even put Goosby’s own job position in danger, but Goosby believed that “[Riles] certainly would be one of the top candidates and would bring a lot of experience to the job.”

Dr. Zurretti Goosby, dentist and activist, is remembered for his work in civil rights and San Francisco’s education system.

Goosby was later promoted to serve as the Board’s President. He played a key role in San Francisco’s difficult transition out of segregation in the 70s. As one of the strongest advocates for desegregation, he strived to ensure that it was achieved as seamlessly and as logically as possible.

In addition to his plans for integration, Goosby also wanted to implement an intensive education plan in the community to supplement it. The plan was an imitation of a program that already existed in the Richmond district. He believed that this program would be vital for the success of desegregation. The plan “suggested that the schools [the following] year follow a policy of open enrollment, allowing any transfer which would improve racial balance.” The other board members supported Goosby’s aspiration for city-wide and school-wide integration. Dr. Goosby was highly successful given the context of the conservative social climate of the times.

Dr. Goosby not only cared about future generations, but also the people who were suffering in the present. In the early 80s, he headed the Gay Subcommittee of the Intergroup Clearinghouse. Another one of Goosby’s major objectives was to provide education regarding tenant rights and to address the need for low-income housing. This was focused on the LGBTQ+ community who had been displaced from their homes and neighborhood businesses. Goosby also highlighted the importance of the need for faster police response to reports of violence against members of this community.

Dr. Zuretti Goosby passed away on January 30, 2000, at the age of 77. His legacy remains ingrained into the fabric of the Bay Area. Goosby is remembered as a husband to Jackeline, a brother to Lula Reed, a father to his three sons, and as a grandfather to his four grandchildren. He is painted upon the wall of the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center in order to honor his legacy.

DeJanelle Bovell and Zoe Foster

Works Cited

Alexander, Dick. “For Head of S.F. Schools.” SF Examiner. 20 May 1970.

Asimov, Nanette. “Longtime Education Leader.” SFGate. 3 Feb 2000.

Cline, Alan. “Shelly Names Goosby to S.F. School Board.” SF Examiner. 8 May 1967.

Wood, Jim. “City Faces Integrate Deadline: School Board Weighs Plan.” SF Examiner. 7 Aug 1970.

Sixty-two Heroes and Pioneers of the Western Addition. SF Cultural and Historical Society. 2000.

Wegart, Don. “Survey to Revive Poly High.” SF Chronicle. 8 May 1970.

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