Hip-hop dancers from Culture Shock Oakland filled the grand rotunda of City Hall Wednesday night, with lively performances closing the final night of Black History Month in San Francisco.
The Black History Month Cultural Experience event, hosted by Board of Supervisors President London Breed and fellow supervisor Malia Cohen on the night of Feb. 28, invited a number of small businesses from San Francisco and across the Bay Area to gather as a single community held together in their celebration of African American culture and cuisine.
Kim Sims-Battiste, the creative executive director for Culture Shock Oakland, a non-profit hip-hop dance organization, spoke about her support for community bonding events, especially when it comes to her dancers, many of them young children.
One such influential member that Battiste and many others in attendance spoke highly of was Supervisor Breed, a leading candidate in the San Francisco mayoral election.
“London Breed gets the job done … She believes in the people that support her and being out in the community to make it stronger,” Battiste said. “As black women in the Bay Area, we must stay in the forefront and Breed is the woman for the job. We need more leaders like that especially with number 45 [Trump] in office.”
Earlier in January, Breed was forced to step down from her position as San Francisco’s acting mayor. In a controversial move, Breed’s peers in the board of supervisors voted in Mark Farrell to fulfill the late Ed Lee’s remaining term.
“I think it’s a thing of pettiness,” Battiste said regarding the board’s actions, “They’re trying to find something against this woman because she is a strong face in San Francisco … She knows she is going to run into obstacles like this, but that doesn’t stop her from getting up each morning and doing what she does.”
Yvonne Hines of Yvonne’s Southern Sweets was another small business woman there supporting Breed’s candidacy. She along with six other restaurants were present in serving free food at the event.
“I believe she will be a good fit as a mayor,” Hines said, “She looks out for the middle class and people that are less fortunate. She is focused on the city’s issues regarding homelessness and housing — things that are affecting people like us as a whole and not just people higher in the tax bracket.”
Hines also credits some of her business success to partnerships with the city, including SF Shines, a program created under the late Ed Lee that helped many small businesses across the City improve their storefronts.
For Hines, events like this that gather like-minded people together is the best for her business.
“I look forward to this event every year,” Hines said, “I can showcase my sweets to my community and to people that either grew up in the South or have traveled there and miss their grandmother’s cooking.”
“Whether its Black History Month or Chinese New Year, whoever and whatever we are celebrating in San Francisco it should be welcomed and enjoyed as a great time like we did tonight,” said Gerry Dove, the owner of Purple Cherry Productions.
Dove is one of the programs coordinator in charge of all the talent that performed during the night, including Battiste’s dance troupe.
For Battiste, showcasing the troupe’s work in front of city executives and officials, many of whom are also black, is essential for the young dancers.
“Furthering the opportunities for my kids to be able to perform is my main goal. I want to be able to put them in front of people that will be influential in their upbringing, learning and discipline,” Battiste said.