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African American Community Empowerment Initiative




The African American Community Empowerment Initiative (AACEI) was launched in 2012 to address, prevent and remediate the negative impact of the out-migration of the African American community in San Francisco. It is designed to finally implement the findings and recommendations of numerous reports, spanning more than two decades. The goal of this initiative is to ensure greater inclusiveness and representation of the African American community at the policy and decision-making level where the community is disproportionally impacted and foster the retention of African Americans in San Francisco. More specifically, the initiative seeks to:

  • Establish a city-wide cultural competency and sensitivity action plan;
  • Develop a mechanism whereby City leaders and agencies have to inform the community of any potential action plans that advance the City’s commitment to implement the recommendations found in the various disparity reports; 
  • Create opportunities for African American community stakeholders to experience the behind the scenes methodology by which public policy is created; and 
  • Direct greater resources to community based organizations and non-profits that can assist in community development and economic growth.  

In order to implement the goals of the AACEI, the HRC has facilitated the creation of the African American Leadership Council (AALC), a self-selected community action committee consisting of community stakeholders that can serves as a conduit between the African American Community and City government. The AALC currently consists of five issue-specific working groups. They are: 

  • Education 
  • Health, Human Service and Transportation Committee 
  • Housing and Economic Development 
  • Arts and Culture 
  • Public Safety

The success of the AALC is dependant largely on the participation and activism of its members and HRC highly encourages members of the community to participate in the AALC and/or any of its working sub-groups.

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2014 Initiatives



Remembering Dr. Maya Angelou

On May 28, 2014, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission issued a statement celebrating the life and work of Dr. Maya Angelou.

Brown v. Board of Education at 60: Examining Racial Equity in Education in San Francisco


Purpose: Celebrate the importance the Brown v. Board of Education and discuss the role of education equity in schools in African American Out-Migration

Process:  The San Francisco Human Rights Commission and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights invited legal experts, academics and community members to discuss the continuing legacy of Brown v. Board of Education and the successes and challenges of achieving racial equity in the San Francisco schools. The decision will be examined through a legal, historical and cultural lens. 

Education Equity Legal Clinics




Purpose: Provide support to community organizations to enhance their capacity to identify and address education-related legal issues and to address the over representation of students of color in special education.

Process: Beginning in 2013, HRC, in collaboration with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Mo Magic, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth and the San Francisco Public Defenders Office, commenced providing free, legal education clinics in the Bayview and Fillmore Districts aimed at educating parents, students and direct service providers on how to leverage the law to identify and create community based solutions in schools. The clinics address school discipline, special education services, discrimination and advocacy.

Mayor Stakeholder Forums





Purpose: The Mayoral Stakeholder Community Forums were created to help advance the inclusion and engagement of diverse, disconnected, and disproportionately impacted San Franciscans in the public discourse, economic opportunities and vibrant social life of the city.

Process:  Each forum will highlight the best and most innovative ventures, policies, and programs that advance diversity in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The forums are free and open to the public.



Fair Chance Ordinance







Purpose: To address the disproportionate impact that the overbroad usage of criminal background checks has on communities of color.

Process: Since 2010, the HRC has been working with community organizations, city partners, employers and housing providers to facilitate a local conversation on reentry and human rights. On April 14, 2011, the Commission voted unanimously to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor urging them to pass legislation to address the lifelong collateral consequences experienced by persons with arrest and conviction records in accessing housing and employment. Following this historic vote, the HRC conducted a public awareness campaign and “Best Practices” trainings. The Fair Chance Ordinance was signed into law on March 4, 2014. The HRC will continue with its public education and outreach campaign by conducting trainings on the ordinance with stakeholders. In addition, the HRC hosts a monthly reading group for youth on The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.


Governing for Racial Equity Network





Purpose: To strengthen alliances, build organizational and institutional skills and commitment, share promising practices and develop and implement policies that promote racial equity.

Process: Beginning in 2013, HRC has partnered with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights and the Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights on the Governing For Racial Equity Network. On March 25-26, 2014 the GRE held its third annual conference. It attracted nearly 450 participants from the Pacific Northwest as well as jurisdictions in New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, and Virginia. Workshops and presentations focused on the history of racism and on incorporating a racial equity lens for training, policy development, health, transportation, planning and other governmental functions.


2013 Initiatives

Annual Spring Break at HRC


Purpose: To provide summer internship prep for students from low income and communities of color during the San Francisco Unified School District’s Spring Break.

Process: Throughout the week, students participated in workshops on identifying summer internship opportunities, interviewing, making a good first impression, and how to get promoted.

Annual Youth Summer Mentorship Series


Purpose: To educate youth from low income and communities of color on career opportunities and assign them a mentor:

Process: Throughout the summer, youth were invited to panel discussions and working lunches to meet with professionals. Through these convenings, students learned about education required for various careers and how to identify a mentor

HRC Resolution Commemorating 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Purpose: To renew the HRC’s commitment to sustainable and effective action to ensure civil rights and economic justice for all

Process: The Human Rights Commission unanimously passed a resolution proclaiming the importance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

HRC Hero Awards



Purpose: To recognize organizations and individuals who advance civil rights and economic justice and embody of the spirit and legacy of the March on Washington

Process: The HRC and the Equity Advisory Committee put out a public call for nominations for individuals, organizations and students to engage the city on the collective importance of recent civil rights victories and achievements in San Francisco. The finalists were selected based on their commitment to equity and their courageous contributions in the field of civil rights and economic justice.

HRC Resolution Honoring Jazzie Collins


Purpose: To honor civil rights activist and transgender leader, Jazzie Collins.

Process: The Human Rights Commission unanimously passed a resolution honoring the life and achievements of Jazzie Collins

African American Read In


Purpose: To celebrate African American contributions to literature and inspire a love for reading among San Francisco’s youth.

Process: HRC Commissioners and staff read aloud a book by a black author and/or illustrator in elementary school classrooms across San Francisco.

EAC Storytelling Series at the Bayview Public Library


Purpose: In response to African American out-migration from San Francisco, the EAC put on an African American literary series at the Bayview Public Library.

Process: Over four weeks, EAC members read stories, shared experiences and engaged parents on history, community and the importance of education.

 2012 Initiatives

Increase Visibility of the Needs of LGBT Seniors of Color


Purpose: To discuss and document key issues and obstacles that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elders of color face each day.

Process: Entitled “Setting the Agenda: Issues Facing LGBTQ Elders of Color,”  the goal of the event was to provide a forum for LGBTQ elders of color to talk about their experiences and issues in advance of the appointment of 15 members to the newly formed San Francisco LGBT Elder Task Force.  HRC also dedicated its annual PRIDE theme to honoring the contributions of African American LGBT Activist, Bayard Rustin.

Public Hearing on Human Rights Impact of War on Drugs


Purpose: To advise the Commission on individual rights impacted by the War on Drugs and make recommendations to increase public safety and reinstitute those rights.

Process: HRC welcomed over 100 community members to the Board of Supervisors Chambers for a hearing entitled the “Human Rights Impact of the War on Drugs.”  The Commission will issue a hearing report which will include recommendations to the City of San Francisco for reducing the harm of the War on Drugs.

African American Leadership Council



Purpose: To specifically address, prevent and remediate the negative impact of the out-migration of the African American community in San Francisco and finally implement the findings and recommendations of numerous reports, spanning more than two decades, which examine the parity of the African American community in San Francisco.

Process: As a result of the 2012 African American Community Empowerment Initiative, the African American Leadership Council (AALC) was formed in 2012 to serve as a conduit between the African American Community and City government and to create measures by which to address “Black Flight”, improve the quality of life for African Americans in San Francisco and ensure that the needs of this community are being hear

Prior Arrest and Conviction Record Education Campaign


Purpose: To educate employers, landlords and community members on the impact that overbroad uses of criminal background checks has on communities of color

Process: HRC staff conducted over 30 meetings with local stakeholders to learn more about the impact any proposed legislation would have on them and to obtain their ideas about how to best address the need to reduce barriers to persons with arrest and conviction records.


2011 Initiatives

HRC Letter Calling for Reduced Barriers towards Persons with Arrest and Conviction Records


Purpose: To urge the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to pass legislation to prohibit discrimination against persons with arrest and conviction records

Process: In response to the disproportionate representation of African American and Latinos in the criminal justice system and the subsequent concentration of the social and economic disadvantages of discrimination in communities of color, the Human Rights Commission unanimously endorsed a letter to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors requesting that legislation be passed,



For more information, please contact Zoë Polk at (415) 252 2517 or or David Miree at (415) 252-2502


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