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Carol Tatum

Carol Tatum

African Americans have always been fighting for something in San Francisco. There was a student-led strike at San Francisco State University (SF State) [in 1968]. Black Students and a coalition of other student groups led the strike to expose the racism found on campus and demanded increased student of color representation.

[The Black Student Union, Third World Liberation Front, select staff and faculty, and members from the larger Bay Area community, organized and lead a series of actions against systematic discrimination. The five-month even was the longest campus strike in US history.]

This laid the groundwork that led to the establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies at SF State. They began raising awareness around the issue of Ethnic Studies because they wanted to learn about themselves. The strike was

multicultural. Everybody got in it. Whites, Asian, Native American, and Latino people all got in it.

We needed those folks. There have always been people whose interests were in the right place. There were even white people in the founding days of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). So, do we need each other? Yes, we need each other because as soon as they finish with one group they get on to the next group, and the fight is the same. None of us need to do the fight alone. We lead the fight and then others join later.

I represent being a part of the solution and working towards improving the quality of life for all people, but particularly improving the quality of life for African Americans in San Francisco. To those who still live here: We need to love our Creator, and then we need to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That’s hard to do because you have to separate your neighbor’s behavior from the person. And in order to love somebody else you have to love yourself, so we have to constantly look in the mirror. What am I doing and what can I do to make our city better?

Carol Tatum
Community Leader and Activist