James Baldwin is one of my heroes. His book Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone is one of my favorites. In 1963 he took a trip to San Francisco to analyze the deeper aspects of the Black community in a city that professes (still to this day) to be a stronghold of progressive thought, but can’t always deliver on that promise.
This documentary is amazing (fullscreen version here). I’ve never seen video of James until I saw this video posted at Africa is a Country blog. It’s also amazing to see the old film footage of San Francisco, in neighborhoods that I work in today, dealing with some of the same issues.
This is San Francisco at the start of the redevelopment project, a project that has left a deep scar on the face of the city. It’s not necessarily a visible scar unless you knew what was there before, but you can get an idea of where we’re at right now by watching this and this.