DeLeon, Rich: Change in San Francisco
Rich DeLeon: Along with that and somewhat related to it, you had these new immigrants coming. The Asian population in the city at the time during that period – we’re talking late 60’s into early 70’s before the election of George Moscone as mayor – they grew fifty percent just in ten years. The Latino population was growing twenty to twenty-five percent over the previous decade. Meanwhile, the native White population was declining. The African American population was starting to decline. You had all these displacement effects that were interacting with this, and spurring it to some extent. Then significantly you had the emergence of a growing and vibrant Gay and Lesbian community – especially in the Castro Noe Valley area and Polk Gulch – who were beginning to become politically conscious as a – if you will – class. This at a time when Board of Supervisors was as I recall mostly lily-white and mostly male. Most of the thirty odd boards and commissions in the city were staffed by a kinda of a blue ribbon and predominately White and professional middle/upper class stratum of the city’s population, and were certainly not welcome in any significant way by City Hall. In the early 70’s these demographics were changes were at high flow. They were not just happening in a peaceful, harmonious way. All these new groups and people and values and agendas were not kindly and generously assimilated into the city’s culture. They were resisted, and as we learn later violently resisted [in some corners] especially in the so-called family land sections of the city of southeastern and western parts of the city. West of Twin Peaks where you still had a significant population of second and third generation Italian and Irish, White ethnics. One area of which, Excelsior, which of course became District 8 under the district election system in 1977 elected Dan White, and he obviously plays an important role. A lot of the issue was is there some way with this tremendous multi-stream onrush of demographic change that was occurring [ ] with and to some extent shaped by and spurred by this downtown development that was going on at the same time created a kind of alchemy of tumult. There was sparks flying. There was animosity. A great deal of racism and homophobia that was becoming politically vocalized and mobilized, and it was creating a difficult situation.
The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.
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Rubin, Jon and DeLeon, Rich, "DeLeon, Rich: Change in San Francisco" (2011). Moscone Oral Histories. 50.