S.F.: African American leaders say ownership of Fillmore Heritage Center should be part of reparations plan


Leaders with San Francisco’s African American community, along with actor and San Francisco native Danny Glover, on Nov. 12 called on the city to donate the building that houses the Fillmore Center to a local nonprofit as part of the city’s reparation plan.

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People San Francisco chapter, transferring ownership of the building, located at 1330 Fillmore St., would help correct wrongs done in the past by the city to the dwindling African American community back in the 50s and 60s through urban renewal programs.

?The Fillmore was the vibrant hub of San Francisco’s Black community before it was destroyed by inherently racist programs designed to remove Black families and culture,? NAACP San Francisco Chapter President Rev. Amos C. Brown said in a statement. ?Deeding the Fillmore Heritage Center back to the local Black community is an extremely important first step in righting that immense historic wrong.?

Brown serves on the city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee. The committee was formed back in May to guide polices to compensate Black people whose ancestors not only provided free labor through slavery in the U.S. from 1619 to 1865, but also suffered injustices during the Jim Crow era that followed.

The committee has been tasked with creating a comprehensive reparations plan over the next two years for the city’s African American residents, which have been reduced to just 5.6 percent of the city’s population, according to the latest census data.

?Reparations cannot be confined to big national or statewide actions,? Brown said. ?Structural racism has had a devastating effect on people’s neighborhoods, homes, businesses and daily lives, so reparations also must include significant actions on a local level. Returning the Fillmore Heritage Center to the community to which it rightfully belongs is exactly that kind of action.?

The item to transfer ownership was up for discussion at the most recent reparations advisory committee meeting earlier that week, with several committee members voicing support for the move, as well as residents during the meeting’s public comment portion.
Glover, who is also a human rights activist as well as a film actor, has also lent his support.

?My professional career in the performing arts began with mentoring by the kind of outstanding Black performers who made the Fillmore one of the most important cultural centers in the west,? he said. ?San Francisco city leaders have a moral obligation to right the racist wrongs that destroyed that culture and that community and allow the Fillmore Heritage Center to live up to the full meaning of its name.?

The Fillmore Heritage Center first opened back in 2007, housing former restaurant and jazz club Yoshi’s. But after the building’s prior owner declared bankruptcy, the building remained vacant for years, although in the last two years it has hosted some community and entertainment events.

The city is currently looking for a buyer for the building, which includes commercial space, a restaurant and entertainment venue, and a public parking garage. The residential portion of the building is not included in the sale.

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