Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1

Africana Studies


In the summer of 2008, I moved to San Francisco, California. I lived in the city for three months. As a researcher, my objective was to learn more about Mayor Gavin Newsome’s African-American Out-Migration Task Force. The Task Force convened in 2007 and met eight times from August to December. In 2009, the Mayor's office released a final report on the Redevelopment Agency's website that summarized the history of blacks in the city and outlined several recommendations for reversing their flight. The final report found that the political, economic, and social conditions of African-Americans are disproportionately more dire than any other group in San Francisco. During our conversations, some task force members suggested that this dire condition could be due to the lack of a black middle-class, which could act as a “connective tissue” between San Francisco’s poor black community and the city’s decision makers. The Task Force reported that although blacks had been in San Francisco for decades, many African-Americans, especially poor blacks, often felt disconnected from much of the city life. That finding resonated with what I heard during my interviews with the middle- to upper-middle class African-American members of the Task Force and with my observations of how residents and visitors shared public space in the Fillmore neighborhood, one of the city’s historically black neighborhoods. [excerpt]

Required Publisher's Statement

Original version is available from the publisher at: