The City of San Francisco, known for its social and
political innovativeness, produced during the early 1970s, a radical
grass roots Black American political organization that, at its height,
boasted a membership of five hundred and focused on the areas of
housing, employment, education, police brutality, voting rights,
and labor issues that directly impacted San Francisco's Black population.
This organization was the San Francisco Black Caucus. It was formed
in September, 1970, in San Francisco, California.
The San Francisco Black Caucus utilized democratic
centralism as its guiding political philosophy, and had numerous
active standing committees, with one organizational central committee
as its governing body. The San Francisco Black Caucus was probably
best known for its strong opposition to the Viet Nam war and to
many of then Mayor [Joseph] Alioto's employment/labor and housing
policies as they impacted Black people in San Francisco. It was
also known for its stance in support of the Black Panther Party
and its subsequent open endorsement of Bobby Seale for Mayor of
In 1971, the San Francisco Black Caucus marched on
the Atlantic Richfield Company [ARCO] offices in San Francisco,
for its racist treatment of Black customers in the Bay Area and
its exploitative policies in apartheid South Africa. The San Francisco
Black Caucus was a strong supporter of the right to unionize, labor
unions, and of the United Farm Workers Union [UFW] and immigrant
worker's rights. It's leadership and membership repeatedly supported
the right of working people of all colors to organize at San Francisco
General Hospital, KRON TV, Foremost Dairy, and elsewhere in the
San Francisco Bay Area.
Another major objective of the San Francisco Black
Caucus in 1971-1972, was to struggle for Black people to be hired
by the mostly white owned businesses in San Francisco's North Beach
area, who objected to Black people being employed. This was a very
tense battle, in which the SF Black Caucus found it necessary to
repeatedly utilize public protests to highlight employment discrimination.
The San Francisco Black Caucus was unique and known
for being organized, radical, and very outspoken, unlike some other
organizations that utilized the name Black Caucus. Regarding this,
THE BLACK PANTHER (newspaper) Intercommunal News Service wrote of
the San Francisco Black Caucus, "Many organizations have formed
with name Black Caucus, but it is unfortunate that few are implementing
concrete plans of action in the Black community. The San Francisco
Black Caucus is moving very progressively; and this is why repression
is becoming more intense." (See Black Panther Intercommunal
News Service, Saturday, October 21, 1972).
Representatives of the San Francisco Black Caucus
were also in attendance and actively involved at the first National
Black Political Convention of March 10, 11, and 12, 1972, in Gary,
Indiana. Until its demise, prior to 1980, the San Francisco Black
Caucus was successful in raising political consciousness and activities
around crucial issues of that period, many of which are still extremely
relevant in the 21st century.
Further information on the San Francisco
Black Caucus can be found in the THE BLACK PANTHER (newspaper) Intercommunal
News Service of October 21, 1972, on pages 6, and 12; in the article
entitled, 'A CAUCUS FOR THE COMMUNITY: The San Francisco Black Caucus
Serves The People.' For a certainty, the San Francisco Black Caucus
remains an important part of the ongoing history of struggle and
change in San Francisco.