We used to call it the Fillmore.
Then it became the 'No More'.
Maybe soon it will be the 'Some More'.
-Reggie Pettus, Chicago Barber Shop
In the 1940s, thousands of Black residents migrated from the Jim Crow South to San Francisco in search of economic opportunities and freedom. Due to discriminatory redlining practices, the Fillmore, at the time home to the Japanese community, was one of the few neighborhoods in San Francisco where African Americans and other people of color were allowed to rent.
When Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes at the onset of WWII, African Americans stewarded lost homes, gardens, and businesses. In the coming years, thousands of African Americans settled in Fillmore, drawn by the well-paying wartime maritime industry in San Francisco. Hundreds of Black-owned retail shops, restaurants, jazz clubs, and other businesses opened in the neighborhood. Like many communities of color cut off from City-wide resources, the Fillmore became a self-sustaining neighborhood.
In the 1950s, the destructive forces of federally-funded "urban renewal" efforts sought to demolish and transform "slum" neighborhoods into modern developments, displacing thousands of Black, and working class families of color from Fillmore. James Baldwin aptly called urban renewal what is really was, "removal of Negros."
Black residents fought back and insisted their voices be heard before further displacement happened. They organized as the Western Addition Community Organization, and filed a lawsuit against the Redevelopment Agency. Residents won the right to have a voice in the “renewal” of their community.
It was the first time a decision like this was made in U.S. history.
Still, thousands had already been displaced from the neighborhood, and by the time new housing and storefronts were completed in the 1980s, many Black families couldn't afford to return. In subsequent years, the continued effects of displacement and gentrification of the surrounding neighborhood have stalled the efforts to restore the vibrancy the Fillmore once enjoyed.
Learn more about the history of the Fillmore by watching the 1999 documentary, “The Fillmore” by KQED