San Francisco Chronicle
Parade celebrates Black history
The sound of drums and trumpets rang across Third Street on a bright and sunny Saturday as hundreds gathered for the fourth annual — and largest to date — Black History Month Parade in the Bayview neighborhood.
“This is really an opportunity to remind the people of San Francisco of the resilience and the strength of the Black community,” said Mayor London Breed, before hopping into the back of a dark red Oldsmobile convertible to join the parade. District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton and Assessor-Recorder Joaquin Torres rode in similar convertibles behind the mayor’s.
The marchers, led by percussionists with the Precision Drill Ministries, included several more antique convertibles, a float of people dressed in traditional garb, the Philip Burton High School and Hoover Middle School marching bands, the Feline Finesse Dance Club, and children walking on stilts with the Prescott Clowns. As they walked, danced, drove, and played along Third Street, onlookers — both who planned to watch the parade and who didn’t — beamed, and the joy was palpable.
“The reason why we do parades is because parades bring out the kid in us,” said the Rev. Ishmael Burch, a community organizer who coordinates events such as Saturday’s gathering and the Juneteenth parade. “When we see a parade, when we see people happy, a lot of the stress that we live with and all that stuff is moved out of the way. You can celebrate.”
Tiffany Carter, the cofounder of economic advocacy group SF Black Wallstreet, said she was overjoyed to see the varied aspects of Black culture on display and being admired.
“This parade is so important and integral in preserving the Black culture here, not just in the Bayview but in all of San Francisco,” she said. “Black San Francisco isn’t going anywhere.”
Walton agreed, saying that the day was an example of the great things that happen when people in the Black community come together.
“This event is the culmination of everybody’s excitement about the contributions of Black folks here in San Francisco,” he said. “Yes, this is Black History Month, and yes, we’re coming together to celebrate that, but I think it’s important that people understand that every day is Black history.”
The parade, which ended at the recently opened Southeast Community Center, was followed by a full afternoon and evening of activities, performances and free food. Zaira Walker, 9, who came to the event from the Mission with her mom, Porsha, said she couldn’t wait to do and see everything.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” she said after watching the Feline Finesse Dance Club dancers perform. “The dancers were really good, and I really liked the speeches from London Breed and everyone else.”
Next up for the Walkers — getting that free food.
The event was also a moment of celebration for the historically Black Bayview neighborhood, which has long faced challenges due to disinvestment, pollution and economic inequality. Reviving the area has been a focus for the city for years, said Torres, who previously worked as director of the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Saturday’s event marked how far it has come.
“I think people know more that Bayview is on the map,” he said. “This is a chance to come back after COVID, celebrate the community, celebrate the amazing new Southeast Community Center, and to see so many diverse communities come together to celebrate the neighborhood.”
Breed pointed to the Dream Keeper Initiative, which invests in the Black community and has awarded nearly $14 million to organizations in the Bayview over the past two years, as a part of the neighborhood’s success.
“Really, things are looking up,” she said. “It’s not where it needs to be. But I’m really proud of the work that we’ve been doing to get it to a better place.”