What History Tells Us

What History Tells Us

I believe that history serves as a guide.

History tells us that the passage of time does not make the situation better. It is what we do with that time that makes the difference.

History tells us that the power of movements — from women’s suffrage to civil rights to marriage equality — can lead us to higher ground and a more inclusive America.

History tells us that no matter the outcomes of national and local elections, we must continue to work hard as our goal remains the same: to advance racial and economic equity.

The San Francisco Foundation has a strong history and deep roots in the Bay Area. We have been committed to social justice in addressing disparities and strengthening the rights and voices of the most vulnerable in our community.

In July, we committed ourselves to the next step — a bold equity agenda for greater racial and economic inclusion for everyone in the Bay Area. The election brought the need for our equity agenda to higher relief. Today, we are more dedicated and more confident of the need for all of us to work together with you — our partners, allies, leaders, and residents — to fulfill this commitment.

One step we are taking immediately is the launch of the Rapid Response Fund for Movement Building. We want to ensure that those who are most impacted by emerging issues and challenges have the resources they need to respond in a timely and effective manner.

We will stand with and be in support of constituencies targeted with Islamophobia.  We will support immigrants, either to hold families together, or allow young people to stay in school and in jobs, or to stand up in the face of proposed mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. And, we will stand with our communities whether it is LGBTQ, people of color, or women.

We have reached out to leaders in the immigrant rights movement and to faith leaders, to hear from them about what they will need in response to potential federal action. We also have been in discussions with leaders — from the public, philanthropic, nonprofit, and private sectors — looking to learn from their perspectives and to discern the best ways to participate, partner, and lead.

At the same time, we must remember that Bay Area residents have spoken too. Voters in our cities, counties and the state sent out a strong message on election night. We had amazing wins in housing and in preserving resources for education, health care and other vital services, and in juvenile justice. Just in the Bay Area voters passed measures for billions of dollars to build affordable homes and strong protections so people can stay in their neighborhoods and not be forced to move to other communities, or completely out of the region.

When we announced our bold equity agenda earlier this year, we were clear on our position. November 8 did not change that. Bay Area residents spoke clearly at the ballot box, and we are more certain than ever that racial and economic equity must remain our focus.

We will continue to use our grantmaking, our civic leadership, and every other tool in our toolbox to ensure that everyone has a chance at full employment at an affordable wage, a safe and affordable home, a strong political voice, and can live in a community that provides real access to opportunity. This is the vision of our equity agenda, and what we aim to achieve by investing in our People, Place, and Power grantmaking pathways. We are all-in to make the region a place where everyone can participate and prosper.

History tells us that when community leaders, nonprofits, donors, residents, and business partners work together, all Bay Area residents benefit. So, I invite you to join us — together, we can ensure that America lives up to its promise of equal liberty for all.

Fred Blackwell
The San Francisco Foundation