San Francisco’s two-term mayor now heads the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service. Image courtesy of the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute.

Mayor Willie L. Brown was a born fighter. The first African American mayor of San Francisco grew up in Mineola, Texas, approximately two thousand miles away from the Bay Area. At the time of Brown’s birth in 1934, Texas was a deeply segregated state. In Mineola, a single railroad track divided black communities from white communities. Continue reading “MAYOR WILLIE BROWN”


Altheda Kennedy Carrie is a widely respected educator. Image courtesy of Altheda Kennedy Carrie.

Altheda Kennedy Carrie dedicated her life to fighting for racial equality in San Francisco public schools. She was born to Blyden Kennedy and Nellie Gray in Charleston, West Virginia. Her father was a teacher and coal miner and her mother was a seamstress. An excellent student, Carrie was elected class president and graduated from Garnet High School third in her class. Continue reading “ALTHEDA KENNEDY CARRIE”


Revels Cayton in the 1960s. Image courtesy of David S. Johnson.

Revels Hiram Cayton was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1907, to a family of activists. His parents Susie Cayton and Horace Cayton, Sr., were influential middle-class African American leaders in Seattle. Horace, Sr., was born a slave in Mississippi. His life experiences drove him to create the Seattle Republican, a weekly newspaper he hoped would encourage activism within the black community. Continue reading “REVELS CAYTON”


Bill Chester was an influential labor leader. Image courtesy of David S. Johnson.

On the day of his funeral, William ‘Bill’ Chester laid still in a small church brimming with the people he had inspired during his lifetime. Jim Herman, the President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), spoke fondly of Chester: “Thousands of members of the ILWU have enjoyed a better life because of Bill’s work over the years. He was a pioneer in the fight for racial equality, within the unions and in the community at large. His many civic and community activities were a credit to all of his labor. He will be very sorely missed.” Continue reading “BILL CHESTER”


Advocate for underrepresented black-owned businesses. Image courtesy of LA Jones Media.

Dr. Caesar Alfred Churchwell is a longtime advocate for minority businesses in San Francisco. When he’s not managing his dental practice in the outer Mission District, he is serving on the board of San Francisco’s African American Chamber of Commerce (SFAACC). Continue reading “DR. CAESAR CHURCHWELL”


Dr. William Lennox Cobb in the 1950s. Image courtesy of History Center, SF Public Library.

Education is a right that should be given to all, not a privilege only for a select few. This was the ideal that Dr. William L. Cobb upheld throughout his career in education. Cobb was one of the first African American teachers in San Francisco, and the first African American principal and assistant superintendent of human relations. Continue reading “DR. WILLIAM COBB”


Educator Josephine Cole in 1948. Image courtesy of UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library.

Education plays a vital role in society, and that is exactly what Josephine Cole believed while working for the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). According to a 1948 San Francisco Chronicle article, she was the first African American elementary school teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District and the first to be employed in a San Francisco high school (“Another First”). Continue reading “JOSEPHINE COLE”


Linda Davis serving as SFUSD deputy superintendent. Image courtesy of SF Progress.

Linda Davis is known throughout the San Francisco Unified School District as the woman who led the “district through this time of change” after several months of uncertainty in 1978 (Phillips and Wynns). Davis was a natural leader and influenced others to break down racial stereotypes. Continue reading “LINDA DAVIS”

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