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date: 01 October 2020

San Francisco and Oakland, Californialocked

  • Jim Mendelsohn


Although Mexican and Spanish blacks were in the De Anza expedition that settled San Francisco in 1776, until the California Gold Rush there were only a few Africans and African Americans in the San Francisco/Oakland area. Notable among them was William Alexander Leidesdorff, a merchant in Mexican San Francisco and later U.S. vice consul to Mexico.

After 1848 a small African American community developed on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill and on the waterfront. Among the blacks of California, who could not testify in court cases until 1863 and could not vote until 1869, were well-educated and prosperous people as well as immigrants from the Caribbean and Cape Verde, making the group an unusually diverse one in the United States.

A black community developed in West Oakland when the Western Pacific Railroad established its terminus there in 1869 Attracted by railroad and port jobs blacks came ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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