Liz Jackson-Simpson

Beatniks, hippies, the Summer of Love—all kinds of culture, all kinds of drugs, all kinds of sex, all kinds of love—we saw all kinds of stuff. It was a very formidable time in the history of San Francisco and in our culture because it was also the Civil Rights era. So in addition to having all the hippies and the Bohemians, we also had the Black Panthers and the Black Arts Movement. In such a very revolutionary period, everybody was vying for freedom and their place and space in society and culture.

I’ve traveled to a lot of places around the world and I can still say that San Francisco is my home. It’s because of the diversity and the culture that’s present. It’s a place where people can be heard and things happen differently, even though we do have our own set of politics as well.

Folks here are being pushed out of the city due to increases in the costs of living. I’m not sure that we’re doing everything we can to mitigate that outmigration. It is especially apparent within the African American community.

The African American community has made great contributions to San Francisco, however we are constantly reminded that it is not ours. For whatever reason, there’s no sense of permanency here. We constantly have to figure out how to navigate through society. Externally and internally, we have had to assimilate and integrate through various forms

and communities. It’s quite a skill knowing how to straddle these fences just to navigate. The best of us know how to do it really well. It’s more of a safety and survival mechanism. These are the skills and traits I try to pass on to my children and to the young people we serve in order to better navigate our city.

Having grown up in the Haight-Ashbury and now living in the Bayview, I was blessed with having a plethora of friends, experiences and flavors in my community. It helped me learn to navigate through diverse environments and I’m grateful for that. That’s the way the world should be because we’re not meant to live alone. We need to look to one another for support and resources. We must continue to support, nurture and educate one another.

Liz Jackson-Simpson
Executive Director of the Success Center San Francisco