Notes on Conversation with OB Badger, San Leandro City Council Member for District 1

I spoke to "OB" Badger a little while ago (6/27/06). He said that the city comissioned a book that was to be an update on an existing book (I forget the title) on San Leandro, focussing mainly on the growth of businesses in the city. The writer's outline seemed to have been purely a discussion on the social fabric (specially racial discrimination) of the city, so the city manager pulled the project because the book had "strayed" from the intended goal of "updating" the existing book. He said that he feels that no one from the city is trying to squelch history - in his opinion it is a history that needs telling - but the book project was meant to talk about the business aspect of the town and not be a social commentary.

I told him that in my opinion it was incomplete to talk about local businesses and business owners without bringing up the issue of the extreme racial inequity that existed in San Leandro at that time. If minorities were not able to live in this town 30-40 years ago, it could not have been easy for them to be able to invest and build thriving businesses in this town, either. So, even if the subject of a book was only local business growth, demographics of a town neeed to be discussed to get a complete picture of the kind of businesses that were opened in SL and the people who owned them and talk about the changes that have occurred in the past few decades.

He said repeatedly that as an African American, he felt that folks should know about out history, but the problem that he felt the city personnel saw with this book outline was that it seemed to focus only on the social issues confronting SL in the 60' and 70's. I asked him specifically if the "Business" Update that the city has commissioned will allow discussion about the racial discrimination within the context of business growth. He said he feels pretty certain that no one will have objections.

I feel there is a great deal of unease about this topic among some, and people want to compartmentalize issues so this subject doesn't keep cropping up in everything that is written about our town. Well, those discriminatory laws affected life in this town - education, housing, business, recreation - and since it's part of our history, it has to be written about in any publication that talks of our town's history.

This account comes from K.B.

Other Notes about the SL History Book