|Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco: The
Hatsuro Aizawa (architect; former Japantown resident)
On receiving news of relocation to internment camps for Japanese Americans during WWII:
"We were 100 percent Japanese, facially, physically -- but we are 100 percent Americans in our hearts. It's kind of a crushing blow that the government would say, 'No, you're a Japanese, you've got to get out of here."
Albert Broussard (historian, Texas A&M University; author, Black San Francisco; former Fillmore resident)
"The Fillmore didn't just change. I think it was destroyed. It was devastated as an important African-American community."
Willie L. Brown Jr. (mayor of San Francisco; former Fillmore resident)
On the motives of urban renewal:
"I don't think it was basically racist, not even in any fashion, consciously or unconsciously. You look at the results and it does appear to be 'Black Removal,' but I think the motivation was pure commercial greed."
George Christopher (mayor of San Francisco, 1955-63; former Fillmore dairyman)
"How long can you condone a slum area?...If we had just let the property waste, do nothing about developing it, the Fillmore would still be the Fillmore and we couldn't afford that either."
Charles Collins (real estate developer; former Fillmore resident)
"I mean, it's like a Mason-Dixon Line. The Geary Corridor going from downtown San Francisco all the way out to the Richmond District in fact created a North/South dividing line dividing the Black community from what was North. Redevelopment countenanced that."
Dr. Daniel Collins (retired dentist; co-founder of the Bay Area Urban League; former Fillmore resident)
On Fillmore Street during WWII:
"You could walk down Fillmore Street with $100 just hanging out of your pocket -- nobody would touch you, because everybody was making money!"
Sugar Pie de Santo (singer/songwriter; former Fillmore resident)
"Music was always in the air...and the youngsters would come out in their little raggedy jeans and tennis shoes and sing anywhere they could...We always had music in the district."
Lloyd Federlein (former Fillmore resident)
"We didn't know what to do, because after you're living there for 70, 80 years...and then somebody comes along and says, 'You've gotta get out'...and you have no say in this at all."
Jerry Flamm (former Fillmore resident; author, Good Life in Hard Times)
"At the beginning, after the earthquake [of 1906], the Fillmore merchants that settled in there had visions of Fillmore Street replacing Market Street as the main street. And for a few years, Fillmore was the main street of San Francisco."
Thomas Fleming (editor, Bay Area Sun-Reporter; former Fillmore resident)
On meeting Mayor Roger Lapham just after World War II:
"I met the mayor....He said, 'Mr. Fleming, how long do you think these colored people are going to be here?'...And I said, 'Mr. Mayor, you know how permanent the Golden Gate is out here? Well, the Black population is just as permanent because we don't need a passport to come in here. We're American citizens.'"
Rev. Wilbur Hamilton (executive director of San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, 1977-87)
"I saw the opportunity to do some things that could only be done from the inside. The alternative was total displacement. Redevelopment was a fact of history. It was the law."
John Handy (saxophonist; former Fillmore resident)
"Bop City was kind of like a school....It was a kind of musical conservatory. I was playing with my heroes; right away, that's what was blowing my mind -- I never knew who I was going to play with, who was going to be at Bop City....You'd go there with you're musical boxing gloves on."
Chester Hartman (urban planner; author, The Transformation of San Francisco)
Commenting on former Redevelopment Agency Director M. Justin Herman:
"Justin Herman was very much a believer in the big project...which meant tear it down and start all over."
Doris Morimoto (Fillmore resident since 1927)
On evacuating for the internment camps:
"We had to sell the store, our truck, sell everything. Leave everything. And leave San Francisco. And...we sold it all for $400. Everything we had for $400."
Steve Nakajo (community activist; executive director, Kimochi Inc.; Fillmore resident) On economic conditions in the Fillmore in the 1970s and 1980s:
"You could ride Fillmore with all of these skeletons, all of these buildings just lined all the way up, and boarded up, and dismal and desolate, all the way up. And the only spots of people were people who were at bus zones."
Reggie Pettus (proprietor, New Chicago Barber Shop)
"A long time ago, it used to be years and years back, we used to call it the Fillmore. Now we call it 'the No More.' "
Mary Rogers (community organizer)
Describing protest actions against redevelopment bulldozers in the 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!'"
Earl Watkins (drummer; former Fillmore resident)
Commenting on the jazz/blues nightclub scene in the Fillmore in the 1940s:
"There was discrimination and separation of the races, but with the music, you know, it's an international language. It had a way of bringing people together."
Rev. Hannibal Williams (community organizer)
"Urban renewal performed pretty much what we feared it would. Urban renewal became Black removal."