San Francisco’s African American Civil Rights Leaders Celebrated in New University of San Francisco Book

Student and community-led oral history project documents 95 African American leaders from actor-activist Danny Glover and newspaper publisher and power broker Dr. Carlton Goodlett, to NBA star Phil Smith and singer Johnny Mathis

SAN FRANCISCO (September 5, 2019) - The University of San Francisco (USF) will celebrate the publication of Changemakers: African American Leaders in San Francisco Who Made a Difference, on Thursday, September 12 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center in San Francisco’s Western Addition. The illustrated 200-page book featuring 95 legendary African American civic leaders depicted on the famed “Inspiration” murals at the community center is the result of a student-led three year research project by USF’s Engage San Francisco initiative. The event is free and open to the public and will begin with a short program featuring various speakers connected to the project.

The program will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original murals commissioned in 1999 by Leonard “Lefty” Gordon and Supervisor Wendy Nelder. The short program will be followed by a reception with limited copies of the book available to the public. An accompanying coloring book for children will also be distributed.

USF’s Engage San Francisco initiative, a campus-community partnership with the Western Addition, spearheaded the project in coordination with students of two university living-learning communities, Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars and Martin-Baro Scholars.

“Given the decreasing numbers of African Americans living in San Francisco, and the increasing gentrification of historically African American communities, preserving this rich history has become increasingly important,” said James Taylor, professor of politics at USF. “The goal of CHANGEMAKERS is to spark interest not just in preserving the memory of those on the mural, but also in generating new murals that honor people who are currently working to make San Francisco a place where equality and social justice will thrive.”

The people represented on the mural and in the book include educators, community activists, politicians, sports figures, pastors, doctors, entertainers, artists, parents and others - highlighting the key roles African Americans from all walks of life have played in the development and betterment of life in San Francisco.

“The causes that these women and men championed lifted them up not only for the African American community, but for the entire city,” said Belva Davis Moore, a long-time broadcast journalist and Fine Arts Museum Board of Trustee member. She notes that many of them like herself, “hailed from the South and arrived in the Bay Area ready to fearlessly fight for equality and social justice.”

The CHANGEMAKERS book includes the stories of Burl Toler, the first African American NFL official, Doris Ward, early activist-educator and former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Danny Glover, actor and activist, Ella Hill Hutch, the “mother of San Francisco’s civil rights movement”, Eloise Westbrook, housing advocate, Terry Francois, first African American San Francisco Supervisor, Johnny Mathis, athlete and entertainer, and Thomas Fleming, legendary journalist and free press advocate, among many others.

The CHANGEMAKERS event and reception will be held on Thursday, September 12 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, 1050 McAllister Street in San Francisco. The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP online or via phone by calling (415) 422-5060.

Members of the media interested in attending must RSVP to Kellie Samson, USF Media Relations Specialist, at or (415) 422-2697.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world’s most innovative and diverse cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco’s first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student’s passion for social justice and a desire to “Change the World From Here.” The Campaign for the University of San Francisco is raising $300 million through 2022 to support student scholarships and financial aid, the creation of bold and innovative programs, and the renovation of current facilities and construction of new space, all part of expanding the university’s global influence. More information about the Campaign.

About the Leo T. McCarthy Center / Engage San Francisco

The Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good is dedicated to inspiring and equipping students at USF to pursue lives and careers of ethical public service, and the service to others. The center provides a non-partisan forum for education, service and research in public programs and policy-making. It supports undergraduate and graduate academic programs, including a master’s program in public affairs and an undergraduate minor in public service. Additionally, the McCarthy Center provides community-based learning opportunities both domestically and facilitates government experiences for students. Engage San Francisco is a transformative university-community partnership that achieves community-identified outcomes supporting children, youth and families in the Western Addition through student learning, research and teaching aligned with USF’s mission and vision. This university-wide initiative supports African American neighbors living below San Francisco’s poverty level to achieve their full potential in education, health, and career development, and housing. More information about Engage San Francisco.

About the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center

The Ella Hill Hutch Community Center is a neighborhood hub named for the first African American woman elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, that provides a safe space for mental and physical health programming in the Western Addition, a historically African American neighborhood with a rich cultural and community legacy.