You Belong in School

Because an African-American millionaire in 1848, Capt. William Alexander Leidesdorff, dedicated California's first public school as re-enactors Meja Tyeimba and Christina Clark demonstrate at State Registered Landmark 587 on April 3, which is also the birthday of Maya Angelou.


 Amiroo Songhoy Al Hajj  Dr. Hassimi Oumarou Maiga joins Ranger Noemesha Williams on the Healing Day weekend at the inauguration of the California African-American Freedom Trail sea cruise with Red and White Fleet, an important way to understand how the Pacific was an ocean of freedom from the 1500s for Africans.  See the details in our series Road to Ratification: How 27 States Faced the Most Challenging Issue in American History.  31 episodes trace the black experience in each state that ratified the 13th Amendment followed by Citizenship for All: 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment.


Our feature movie and instructional television series on the compelling story which gave California its name.  Make your reservation now for 2019

Join us at the 18th annual Teachers for Social Justice for the unveiling of our 2018-19 season with Citizenship for All: 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment. Call 415-240-3537 to subscribe to the 31-part series and Queen Calafia (TM) Movie in February.


The most famous park ranger in America is Ranger Betty                                 ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage joins Golden Gate National Recreational Area for our second annual Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. program featuring Rangers Kelli English, chief of interpretation for East Bay parks; Betty Soskin of Rosie the Riveter National Park, and NoeMesha Williams of San Francisco Maritime along with Fredrik Penn of the Presidio and Bennie Batom of Alcatraz.  Our Road to Ratification series points to 2,000 national park sites and historic landmarks which interpret the passage of the 13th Amendment.  There's a new movie about Ranger Betty, who told us about hosting sailors on the evening of the Port Chicago explosion.


Give 7.8 million African-American children the gift of their own heroes by connecting them with the 209,145 U.S. Colored Troops who won the greatest victory in history by using Road to Ratification to learn about the soldiers who made the 13th Amendment happen.


AFRICAN FREE SCHOOLS Summer Institute travelled to Washington, New York and Philadelphia to explore the early history of Africans in America with educators who want to infuse positive cultural referents throughout the classroom experience.   Sights include an early Philadelphia banker,, Rodert Adger, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, W.E.B. DuBois, one of the authors cited in Road to Ratification: How 27 States Faced the Most Challenging Issue in American History; a plaque for Ricahrd Allen, Philadelphia's segregated firehouse, the Washington, D.C. sculpture for Dr. Carter G. Woodson, anotehr Road to Ratification author and the 25th anniversary of the African Burial Ground where we celebrated wtih Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry and daughter Sharon in the National Monument with Lead Ranger Jimmy Cleckley and Chief of Interpretation Barbara Applebaum.

Road to Ratification series begins airing to schools nationwide October 1 with 31 episodes chronicling the passage of the 13th Amendment.  Get the book at californiablackhistory.com/road2ratification

St. John's Presbyterian Church in San Francisco was the site of the first of two reenactments of a Memorial Discourse by Rev. Henry Highland Garnet on the anniversary of the Feb. 12, 1865 speech which set the tone for the ratification of the 13th Amendment, the most important event in African-American history.  Ruling Elder John William Templeton read the speech as the church related the message to the recent passage of the Belhar Confession, declaring racial discrimination as sinful, in July 2016 by the Presbyterian Church USA.  Special guests included Carol Tatum, president of the S.F. Business and Professional Women and newly-named Police Chief William Scott, former commander of the South Los Angeles area for LAPD. The second reading took place at St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church, led by Archbishop Franzo King and Rev. Wannika Stephens.  Chief Scott and family tour Underground Railroad sites during summer vacations.  Templeton also presented the speech at Berkeley's Church by the Side of the Road.

15th Street Presbyterian Church, 1701 15th St. in Washington, D.C. celebrates its 175th anniversary on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 with LET YOUR MOTTO BE RESISTANCE: Rev. Henry Highland Garnet with John William Templeton, author of Road to Ratification: How 27 States Tackled the Most Challenging Issue in American History as the re-enactor.   Garnet was pastor of 15th Street when he was the first African-American to speak in the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 1865 on the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, who personally selected Garnet to give the sermon to mark the passage of the 13th Amendment.  The program begins at 7 p.m.

Descendant's Day at Allensworth

Eight members of the Joshua Singleton family travelled with ReUNION to Allensworth for the first time to see the general store he operated until 1928 and where the oldest member of the family actually attended kindergarten in the one-room school.  We also saw Charles Allensworth, grand nephew of Col. Allen Allensworth during the Black History Month observance as guests came from across the state to Allensworth State Historical Park Saturday, Feb. 11.  Hannibal Lodge No. 1, the oldest Prince Hall lodge in the West, sponsored the journey from San Francisco and Oakland under the leadership of Worshipful Master Louis Garrett Sr.   Other guests include the niece of Bill Pickett and former S.F. Supervisor Sophie Maxwell.






Dr. Kerby Alvy, founder and executive director of the Center for Improving Child Caring, brought many of his materials for effective parenting in different cultures to the Local District West Parent and Family Center Directors meeting at Johnnie Cochran Middle School as part of our presentation on preparing for Black History Month's theme of the Crisis in Black Education.


Register online for

reserved seating for

the motion picture

Gina's Journey at 11 a.m.



Landon Dickey, assistant to the superintendent for African-American leadership and improvement, Tom Graven, director of pupil services, and Helen Pettiford, director of teacher training are among SFUSD staff visiting ReUNION offices to preview our Cultural Mastery training beginning on Dec. 6, the anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment.


CULTURAL MASTERY:   50 SFUSD administrators begin tour of African-American Freedom Trail on the SFSoul Shuttle, one of the ReUNION Heritage Tours Oct. 21.


8th annual Preserving California Black Heritage conference features Ranger Noemesha Williams  who leads a facilitated dialogue on African-American history in California's national parks Sept. 10.   Last year, Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame member Roy Clay and USF professor James Taylor listen as former California State Parks director Maj. Gen. Tony Jackson speaks.


He could have been Michael Brown

Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame member Roy Clay describes being taken by police in Ferguson, MO in 1947 on a ride that ended with a racial slur.   A decade later, Clay would be programming the world's fastest computers in Silicon Valley.   His mother told that racism should never be an excuse for not achieving.

Clay was at the last Preserving California Black Heritage conference in the new historic site, Ingleside Presbyterian Church, home of the Great Cloud of Witnesses.   To attend the eighth annual conference on Sept. 10 at the S.F. Maritime National Historical Park, register at californiablackhistory.com



​HARRIET TUBMAN'S prowess as a  fundraiser attracted money to the Underground Railroad to help her lead 300 to freedom.   Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced her face will go on the redesigned $20 bill.  ReUNION was at Harriet Tubman Square and Frederick Douglass Blvd. for a BLACKFOODTOUR in Harlem the weekend of the announcement

Alison Saar's Swing Low at Harriet Tubman Square and Frederick Douglass Blvd. in Harlem
Eastern High School band and dancers in the D.C. Emancipation Day parade

Our Roots Run Deep: the black experience in California, Vols. 1-4 marks 25th anniversary with St. Ignatius, Immaculate Conception student leaders

The Road to Ratification gives them a new awareness of the 13th Amendment as the most important event in African American history and the role of California as a catalyst to bring it about through the work of six San Francisco and Oakland churches and lodges founded between 1852 and 1854 which are still active today.  NBC Bay Area is featuring some of those sites along the California African American Freedom Trail throughout February. See video below.  A citywide student focus takes place March 5 at George Washington High School.

In our speech at San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, to launch Black History Month in San Francisco, we noted W.E.B. DuBois' role in San Francisco and global history.  With Dr. Amos C. Brown, pastor of 164-year-old Third Baptist Church; Al Williams, president of the S.F. African-American Historical and Cultural Society and church leaders, we explored a house where DuBois stayed for his Feb. 14, 1958 speech at the church on the way to China to meet with Chairman Mao.  Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett was his host for the speech.


Songhoy Princess Club tours California African-American Freedom Trail from Bernal Intermediate School in south San Jose to the Financial District in San Francisco Sunday under the leadership of Debra Watkins, president of the California  Alliance of African-American  Educators, and Dr. Joyce King, Benjamin E. Mays Chair of Urban Teaching and Learning at Georgia State University and immediate past president of the American Educational Research Association.

Joe d'Alessandro, president of San Francisco Travel, and top tourism leaders, including Peter Wiley, Chair Emeritus of John Wiley & Sons, take the African-American Freedom Trail tour .

Eldoris Cameron holds her copy of the original issue of Our  Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vol. 1 from 1991 and Maurice Jenkins receives his new set of  four volumes at Civic Center Secondary School.

Road to Ratification-How each state came to ratify the 13th Amendment  Jan. 31-March 5

South Carolina -- Jan. 31  Forty percent of all African-Americans are descendants of someone who came through Sullivan's Island.  Learn how Africans shaped the Palmetto State and then won their own freedom.

Florida --  Feb. 1 In 1739, Florida issued its own Emancipation Proclamation, creating a draw for freedom across the South.  Examine the impact of America's maroons.

Georgia- Feb. 2.  Established as a free state, Georgia would cast the vote that ratified the 13th Amendment

Vermont-Feb. 3  The first state to end slavery following the American Revolution

Illinois-Feb. 4   See how Illinois sped to become the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment



African-American Art&Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St.

9 a.m.

King also spoke at the Platform Committee of the Republican National Committee at the Cow Palace in 1964 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped consecrate Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill in 1965, one of the many sites where he spoke in San Francisco and spoke at the Cow Palace in 1961, raising $16,000 to support the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (above)  In 1964, he spoke at the Civic Auditorium to an interfaith civil rights rally. (left)  His first speech in San Francisco was at the Civic Auditorium in 1956 to the NAACP National Conference.

But, his connection to San Francisco began at age 12 when he began spending his summers on Scott Street during the 1930s and 1940s as part of the burgeoning Western Addition neighborhood.

ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage presents Martin Luther King Jr.'s San Francisco on the national holiday in the African-American Art&Culture Complex. Our documentary The King Behind King, Bridges, Chavez and Mandela explores LeRoy King, who also arrived in San Francisco from Fresno in the late 1930s.  As a member of the Guardsmen, a group of black longshoremen dedicated to gaining influence in the ILWU, he was part of labor's support of the Montgomery bus boycott, a role that Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges in the video at Grace Cathedral.  King also stood behind ILWU founder Harry Bridges when he was targeted during the "red scare" pf the 1950s, helped support the creation of the United Farm Workers union in Delano and was Northern California vice president of ILWU when longshoremen refused to unload a ship from South Africa, which touched off the divestment movement which led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.  Sen. Diane Feinstein, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown all discuss the role that LeRoy  King played in their political careers.

These visitors from St. Louis read the eight quotations from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inside the MLK Memorial Waterfall created by sculptor Houston Conwill after a 20-year campaign by Geraldine Johnson, leader of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and founder of S.F. Housing Development Corp.  It is the third largest tribute to the Dreamer.


The most important event in  African-American history

Is almost completely unknown.   On Dec. 6, 1865, the Georgia legislature, not President Abraham Lincoln, ended slavery in the United States by becoming the 27th state to ratify the 13th Amendment.

Called the Second American Revolution by historians, the 13th Amendment was the first new amendment to the Constitution in 61 years.  With the 14th and 15th Amendments, it brought more than 3 million Africans out of bondage and made them Americans.

ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage presents a six week series describing the journey from Jan. 31, 1865, the date that Congress passed the 13th Amendment, to Dec. 6 as states took their own journey to this historical watershed.   Lincoln's home state, Illinois, was the first to ratify, the next day on Feb. 1, abolishing its Black Codes later in the week. Seventeen other states ratified in February, but the number was stuck at 23 from June to November.

Above, the Congressional Record for the 13th Amendment, a souvenir printed copy signed by all members of Congress, the certification by Secretary of State William Steward listing the 27 states which ratified the Amendment and below the telegram from Sen. Lyman Rostock cajoling Gov. Richard Oglesby to make Illinois the first state to ratify.

The New York Herald Tribune trumpets Georgia's ratification following South Carolina, Alabama and North Carolina in November 1865 to complete ratification.    California, Oregon and Florida would also ratify later in December 1865.

St. Ignatius College Preparatory students and faculty led by Matt Balano, Lakeeja Roberts and Chris Delaney explored California's road to ratification during a special 150th anniversary tour in San Francisco of the California African-American Freedom Trail, which was inspired by the 2007 discovery of the California ratification of the 13th Amendment in a closet in the Historic State Capitol.

ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage Executive Producer John William Templeton created an exhibition for the Legislative Black Caucus called Gold Rush Abolitionists and followed up with a three part exhibition The Year of Jubilee in 2013 for the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.   Nine annual conferences have identified the path to freedom which ran through California. 

On Dec. 5,  Templeton presents the California African-American Freedom Trail as the luncheon speaker for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators in Los Angeles followed by a tour of the sites in the L.A. area at 2 p.m.

Pictured right are delegates to the American Library Association who took the Freedom Trail tour in July during the annual conference in San Francisco, at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Waterfall.

To subscribe to ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage daily instructional television, peer reviewed for cultural mastery with learners of African descent, call 415--272-7209.   Scroll through the carousel below to see the process of ratification including a narrative from the Union League of New York, which created a committee to lobby for its ratification nationwide.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Generous support of the National Bankers Association; Rhode Island Dept. of State, Massachusetts Archives, New York State Archives, Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Connecticut State Library, Alabama Dept. of Archives and History, Pennsylvania State Archives, Maryland State Archives, Arkansas History Commission, Minnesota Historical Society, Indiana State Archives, Library of Virginia, Iowa State Archives, Kentucky State Archives, African-American Civil War Museum, Library of Congress

Below are milestones in the development of the California African-American Freedom Trail, an eight year alliance with the National Park Service to present seven week Come to the Water workshops each winter; Templeton gives the 150th anniversary address to commemorate Rev. Thomas Starr King, the abolitionist credited with keeping California in the Union, in a historic gathering of California's Free Masons and Prince Hall Masons and the California resolution of adoption, signed by every member of the legislature in December 1865.  Below, Templeton with Registrar of Historic Places Jay Correia and Historical Resources Commissioner Rick Moss and panel of Gold Rush Abolitionists exhibition.

Let the primary sources guide your discussion of  Columbus Day

The second explorer to visit New York was a man of African and Portuguese heritage, Esteban Gomes, who had already participated in Magellan's voyage and who had also sailed to Asia in his youth. In his time, Gomes was so famous that Spanish maps referred to New England and the Mid-Atlantic region as Tierra de Esteban Gomes, or as it  would translate into English, The Land of Esteban Gomes. Skilled African sailors, mariners, and explorers were an integral force in the settling of our nation and exploring and mapping its coast. The first settler of New York City was a man of Afro-Hispanic origin, Jan Rodrigues, who settled amongst the native Lenape people a dozen years before the Dutch formed New Amsterdam.

Source:  African Burial Ground National Park, National Park Service


In San Francisco Sunday, the 20th annual Maafa paid homage to the millions who died and were captured in the Middle Passage.   After passing through the "Door of No Return," the 500 participants at Ocean Beach at dawn prayed at an altar on the beach and then tossed flowers into the ocean on behalf of loved ones known and unknown.

The drum, the essential communication medium for African cultures, is becoming controversial in the 21st century.   Churches in Oakland and San Francisco have been told by police to reduce the noise from drumming, even during funerals and complaints about drum circles have attracted a large police presence in Oakland.   Learn about the importance of the Drum in African culture on ReUNION's Our Roots series.


The joint ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage and San Francisco Travel exhibition The African-American Freedom Trail is now on exhibit in the African-American Art & Culture Complex in San Francisco at 762 Fulton Street through Black American Day on March 5.   To learn about the role of the California African-American Freedom Trail to the most important event in African-American history on its 150th anniversary in December, take the SFSoul Shuttle tours at a classroom discount in October and November at californiablackhistory.com




Col. Charles Young and two detachments from the 9th Cavalry got to meet Booker T. Washington and provide the honor guard for President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 at their base on the Presidio.

But in August, they did something five previous Army units had failed to do -- built a road to the largest trees in the world at the Sequoia National Park.  

It made the largest living thing on earth, the General Sherman tree, an enduring tourist attraction.  The road is regarded by the National Park Service as one of the most important spurs to California's tourism industry.

The ReUNION daily series Our Roots gives African-American students that same rootedness in the central role of their ancestors in world, national and local history.   We're on a seven-day mapping and taping expedition of the California African-American Freedom Trail, proving the title of our anthology The Black Queen: How African-Americans Put California on the Map, Vol. 4 of Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California.

Get your copy of the book and a commemorative map of the California African-American Freedom Trail during SFSoul Shuttle tours July 28-Aug. 4 as the world's tourism industry comes to San Francisco for the World Education Congress.  Book your space at blackmoney.com or californiablackhistory.com

Col. Young and the troopers built fences around this and other trees in reverence for life and for Gen. Sherman, a San Francisco banker during the 1850s who led the Union advance through the South to end slavery.


The Freedom Trail also includes the site of Sherman's Bank, which is also the site where Mary Ellen Pleasant, the mother of civil rights in California, prompted Charlotte Brown to initiate a lawsuit to end street car segregation in California in 1864.

Our Roots allows connecting the dots of history for critical thought and analysis of how history impacts today.

Ain't No Stoppin' Them Now.   That was the daily affirmation in our Potrero Progress biotech magnet in 2010 when we proved the concept for our Learning Garage pedagogy.  Over the weekend, we saw two alumni Octavious White, then a junior, now helping to design parks on the Bayview-Hunters Point waterfront; and Charles Laws, now the lab technician for the Heron's Head EcoCenter, still active in science five years later.  Laila Duke just graduated from Howard University with honors.  The program SeaChange captures those curriculum strategies during this school year with a focus on the science of water, particularly as California deals with drought conditions.


The Prodigal Civil Rights Hero

Our programming this school year includes Who Was Tracy Sims?, the first documentary featuring Tamam Tracy Moncur, who was the 18-year-old leader of the Palace Hotel sit-ins in March 1964.

She joined us with 14 of her children and grandchildren at the African-American Art & Culture Complex for a preview of the documentary.    The United San Francisco Freedom Movement achieved 375 agreements with employers from 1963 to 1965.

Pacific Region EEOC Director William Tamayo, whose agency was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed in part because of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement,  came to meet her personally.  He also shared his memories of growing up in the Fillmore area of San Francisco.


There's no variation on our theme during the California African-American Freedom Trail tour. At every corner of the state, blacks were there at the beginning.

We traveled to Beckwourth Pass, Beckwourth Peak and Beckwourth's cabin.  He got the credit for the low pass through the Sierra Nevada, but really he is notable for having great relationships with the First Nations who undoubtedly showed him the best way to get through the mountains.  The Crow Nation would make Beckwourth an honorary chief.

In Our Roots, examples like Beckwourth and the 9th Cavalry address the social construction of space that mistakenly convinces many young people that they should not enjoy  the outdoors when nothing could be further than the truth in our history.

In fact, the attachment to the land has significant mental and physical health implications.   Viewing these episodes is designed to get them to appreciate their own environment and to restore its natural beauty.

Califia in the Classroom illuminates the California African-American Freedom Trail

When the California Assembly ratified the 13th Amendment, every member of the legislature signed t he document, including those who voted against it  For the sesquicentennial of the most important event in black history, ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage is driving the creation of the West's first African-American Freedom Trail, based on the sites in Our  Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4   Assemblymember Cheryl Brown discusses legislation to amend Division 5 of the Public Resources Codes to create the California rican American Freedom Trail with Commissioner Rick Moss of the State Historical Resources Commission.


An African-American business leader and mathematics genius who spoke six languages began public education in California.  Here we mark the April 3 anniversary of the state's first public school.