Error message

  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in taxonomy_field_views_data() (line 444 of /home/reimagi8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy.views.inc).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in taxonomy_field_views_data() (line 444 of /home/reimagi8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy.views.inc).

Art, Cultural Resistance & Transformation

This Little Black Girl

By Kristine Mays

A little Black girl in San Francisco, that’s who I was. I was also a kid with a wild imagination, surrounded by a diverse community of people of all colors and cultures. I soaked it all in like a sponge and to this day, some of the experiences still nourish my soul.

I take great pride in saying I was born and raised here even though the city feels nothing like it did when I was a child. Yet, I find myself happy when I say I am here and from here, born in the middle of such a multifaceted place. The smell of incense, weed, patchouli… smells associated with hippies filled my nostrils before I was old enough to comprehend it all. You see, I was born in 1969 and lived with my family only one block over from Haight and Ashbury. My Mom tells stories of hippy neighbors and concerts in Golden Gate Park. Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were a big part of my soundtrack when I was a child, along with Sly and the Family Stone.

A little Black girl in San Francisco, that’s who I was. Wearing a pressed cotton dress, white ankle socks edged with lace, and patent leather Mary Jane shoes to church with family friends. Being told to sit up straight, be still and behave. Sitting in a Baptist church near Hayes and Octavia on wooden pews, I watched stone-faced older women in black-and-white uniforms (like nurses) giving out paper fans. These stern-looking women wore white gloves and walked with their hands behind their backs. They covered women with squares of burgundy fabric when they “fell out in the spirit”. They carried smelling salts to revive those who passed out.

Geneva Towers

By Mark Johnson

The Geneva Towers Complex was a two-building, 22-story high-rise that sat at the center of the Sunnydale Projects, approximately four blocks from the Cow Palace.

I lived on the sixteenth floor of B Building in a two-bedroom apartment from about 1979 to 1988. At that time, my apartment offered me a beautiful view of the rolling green hills nestled in the backdrop of the Cow Palace and the Geneva Drive-in Theatre. I would crank up my stereo, put on some Rick James music, grab myself a joint, and step out on the balcony to enjoy an often breezy, but sunshiny day.

Related Stories: 

Playland

By Charles Curtis Blackwell

About 1954, I was real small and I went with a parent to Playland. We paid and went in. I walked in a hallway. I got on a moving floor with moving walls. I got scared.  It was like something you’d use in a Hollywood movie. I started crying.

Related Stories: 

Kaleidoscope Energy

By Julianne Malveaux

Growing up in San Francisco was an exciting, amazing experience. I’m grateful that my mom (who did not drive) made sure that my siblings and I spent time at the Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum, Chinatown, and parts of the Mission. We explored the Avenues and spent time with people whose cultural diversity surprised us. Sometimes we asked questions. Mostly, we just listened and learned. And we took any opportunity to eat at restaurants near the beach.

There was a Fun House [at Playland, a seaside amusement park in the Richmond district which closed in 1972] and “Laughing Sal” a big old clown, ushered you in. Sometimes we had enough money to enter. Other times, we would just look and laugh at the clown from a distance. We laughed because we could not get into Playland and at least one of us, usually my brother, tried to sneak in.

Related Stories: 

Glimpse of the Point

By Johanna B.

Back when I was growing up in Bayview-Hunter’s Point in the 1960s and ’70s we could go out and play morning and night. Bayview-Hunter’s Point had fewer people and was less crowded. More space; more room to roam. There was a sense of connection and belonging.  You were called by your family’s last names—so you were a Brown or a Bridges or Sears.  Families had credit at the grocery stores and clothing stores that were lined up on Third Street. Kids were able to shop for their families and use their families’ credit.

Related Stories: 

Remembering the Booker T. Washington Hotel

By Jaqueline Chauhan

The Booker T. Washington Hotel in San Francisco was a world unto itself for Black celebrities in the days of segregation, when Blacks were not allowed to stay at the city’s downtown hotels. It hosted some of the biggest names you could find, and I was right there with them, because my mother worked there. I still remember when James Brown and Hank Ballard sang Happy Birthday to me.

When Duke Ellington came to San Francisco, his band members stayed at the hotel. Dinah Washington, Earl Grant, Nat “King” Cole and his trio, and others in that generation of musicians would rehearse at the hotel during the day. I’d just watch and listen, especially when I was too young to go see them at the Fillmore Auditorium. Most were very friendly to me because I was “Ms. Sadie daughter.” They’d hang around the front desk or in the lobby just to talk.

Related Stories: 

Muhammad University No. 26

In Memory of El Hajjah Sabree Sharkir (1949-2015)
By Wanda Sabir

They were impressive, like the sisters in Terri McMillian’s Waiting to Exhale. Sister Nabeehah (Corliss), Sister Munira (Linda), Sister Marva, Sister Rashidah (Joyce 5X), Sister Sharifah, Sister Bayinna, Sister Aeeshah Clottey (Patsy), Sister Muhasin (Leslie)… and Sister Izola in the kitchen.

Their presence was a cool breeze, a breath of fresh air. I thought them giants, Amazons in a San Francisco jungle—guided by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI).

There were Lieutenants and Junior Lieutenants, of whom I was one. We worked directly under the Vanguard Lieutenant and Sister Captain, who were under the Minister. I remember wearing a hot pink, two-piece uniform and showing off our drill steps. We were hot in more ways than one!

We’d have drill competitions in front of the entire community. Sometimes Vanguards from other mosques would compete with us. I don’t remember losing. On Saturdays, we’d have bake sales and oratory contests where we’d memorize chapters from the Messenger’s books and see who had memorized the most. We would also share original work. I remember reciting an essay about the illusion of time. Both girls and boys were encouraged to show off academically and were praised by the ministers and other adults.  We’d have sleepovers at friends’ houses where we’d dance the latest dances and stay up all night talking. The next day, we’d get up early, put on our white uniforms, and go to the mosque where we’d serve as greeters or in the women’s security check room.

 

Related Stories: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Art, Cultural Resistance & Transformation