|“WE WANT TO STAY”: THE WESTERN ADDITION REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT & MARCUS BOOKS
Back in the 1950s and 60s, thousands upon thousands of historic buildings in Western Addition neighborhoods were slated for demolition by the SF Redevelopment Agency (SFRA)- resulting in the demolition of over 2,500 Victorian homes and displacement of 4,729 households and 883 businesses. Western Addition neighbor, community organizer, and housing activist Mary Rogers (1905-2006), described protest actions against redevelopment bulldozers in the late 1960s: “We’d chain hands and say, ‘Run over us! Kill us! We don’t care. We got one life to give, you ain’t comin’ in here!'”
With that same bravery and determination, Rogers and other members of the Western Addition Community Organization (WACO) organized a community effort to prevent the demolition of 1686 Post Street, a Victorian building that had been the storefront of one of the City’s most well-known and artistically ambitious jazz clubs, Jimbo’s Bop City (circa 1950-1965). The building at 1686 Post Street was spared from the bulldozer’s path through neighborhood activism, and WACO member Essie Collins petitioned the SFRA to move the building from its location on Post Street to a new spot, several blocks away on Fillmore Street. The SFRA physically moved the building to its new location at 1712 Fillmore in 1978, and sold the property to the Richardson family, founders/proprietors of Marcus Books – the nation’s oldest continuously operating Black-owned and Black-themed bookstore.
Now in 2013, neighborly love and community organizing is in action again to protect Marcus Books from being evicted from its historic location. Come out to ALL SOULS’ NIGHT on November 2nd to take action in support of Marcus Books and/or find out more about current efforts here!