• Jazz Musician’s John Handy, Pony Poindexter, John Coltrane and Frank Fischer perform at Bop City in the Fillmore District (Supplied)Source: Supplied
New data reveals the shocking displacement of more than 100,000 African Americans since the early 1970’s … But who is to blame?
Tara Callinan, Presented by
Emily Nicol

30 May 2016 - 1:30 PM  UPDATED 30 May 2016 - 1:30 PM

Modern parklands, upscale restaurants and swanky fashion boutiques occupy the length of Fillmore Street in San Francisco…

It’s hard to believe this area was once referred to as ‘the Harlem of the West.’

Today it’s known by locals as ‘Japan Town’ and houses Asian families in overpriced, high-rise apartment buildings.

Sitting among the shadows of these unit blocks is the Fillmore Heritage Centre; all that remains of San Francisco’s African American history.

The cultural centre – located at Eddy and Fillmore – is the only black-owned development left standing in the city.

According to the President of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, it is the heart and soul of the black community.

“But we’re in a city where nobody cares. The Mayor just wants another ‘Manhattan;’ a major city with high rise buildings and no black people,” said President Fred Jordan.

In 1970, 13 per cent of San Francisco’s total population identified as African American.

According to President Jordan, they migrated here for military-related jobs and lived happily in affordable housing; playing jazz music on the streets and in piano bars.

“We had about 29 jazz clubs and 184 black owned businesses. We lived in low-income houses for just 300 dollars a month but we were happy. Nowadays it costs around 2,400 dollars a month to live there.”

In the early 1970’s, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency deemed the Fillmore District ‘a ghetto.’

The Agency – due to a lack of cultural understanding – mowed down the community’s homes and let the land lay baron for more than 20 years.

According to President Jordan, this resulted in the displacement of 50,000 African Americans from the city.

“We had about 29 jazz clubs and 184 black owned businesses. We lived in low-income houses for just 300 dollars a month but we were happy. Nowadays it costs around 2,400 dollars a month to live there.”

“Black people were just ‘scattered in the wind.’ Many took the midnight train back to Georgia.”

A recent American Community Surveyrevealed that only 6 per cent of San Francisco’s current population are black.

“Around 100,000 African Americans have now been pushed out of the city or into homelessness… In fact, 28 percent of African Americans are still living in poverty,” said President Jordan.

He believes that the notable exodus of his people is due to a lack of affordable housing and the arrival of tech giants with blue-collar workers.

The likes of Google and Facebook - who come to the city with their own employees – leave no jobs for people of colour.

“I call this gentrification,” he said.

President Jordan is now calling on San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to allocate more funding to state programs that will retain his people and culture.

“Mayor Lee is giving 20 million dollars to the gay population and 10 million dollars here and there, but not giving anything to African Americans.”

Just like the ongoing gentrification of Indigenous Peoples in Australia, America is experiencing the same.

“But we’ve reached a level of atrocity here,’ said President Jordan.

“There is no plan for the retention of African Americans. Our community is null and void in a city where no one cares."

"I call this racism."

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