58% of San Francisco’s Black Inhabitants Have Thought-about Transferring Out of State

A crowd stands outside San Francisco City Hall to listen to speakers at a reparations rally March 14, 2023. The California Task Force estimates that the state owes at least $800 billion in economic damages to black residents. Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

  • According to the 2020 census, black Americans make up 5.7% of San Francisco’s population.
  • Decades of targeted interventions have impacted community populations and the condition of historic neighborhoods.
  • The city’s reparations task force has lobbied for financial incentives that would fix the story and bring black Americans back to San Francisco.

As the city of San Francisco struggles to attract residents back to the city after the pandemic, many of its black residents are considering leaving the state altogether.

Today, only 5.7% of the city’s population identify as Black, compared to 13% in 1970. Of this community, which is predominantly located in neighborhoods such as the Fillmore District and Bayview-Hunter Point, 58% say they are considering becoming Black State to leave the high housing costs and high taxes as major grievances. That number is up to 14% higher than Asian and Hispanic respondents, according to a 2019 University of California-Berkeley survey.

Once hailed as the “Harlem of the West,” the Fillmore District was home to thousands of black workers who arrived in the 1940s. It has become home to some of the area’s hottest jazz clubs, featuring artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane. The political landscape served as a breeding ground for the Black Panther Party and other particularly progressive politicians.

However, under the guise of “urban renewal,” black homeowners were squeezed out in the 1960s and 1970s when their property was confiscated for the construction of high-rise and office buildings. By 1990, the black population had dropped to 10.9% of the city’s population. In the 2010s, the growth of Silicon Valley and the associated rise in the cost of living meant that many black residents faced high taxes and the lowest household incomes, and fewer opportunities in San Francisco.

The recently created San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee task force is advocating $5 million in cash payments for black residents unfairly affected by the policies and evictions. While the source and feasibility of this form of reparation payment remains a matter of debate, Black San Francisco’s future and eventual return remains uncertain.

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