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Mary Booker

Mary Booker migrated to San Francisco in the 1940s, and was an important part of the developing performing arts movement in Bayview. Today, she hopes to see the return of the vibrant, thriving community she was once a part of.


Ms. Mary Booker

82 years old
Born: Arkansas
Moved to San Francisco in 1955

To see a better future, one woman looks into the past

Mary Booker was born on a small island in Arkansas, and migrated to San Francisco in the 1950s along with her family. She remembers Bayview as a family-oriented community that wasn’t just surviving, but thriving. Homeownership was at an all-time high in the area — a trend Mary believes was driven by hard-working people with a family-first mentality.

An actress at the Bayview Opera House, Mary remembers the 3rd Street riots well. She was sitting on the steps waiting to rehearse as the rioting began — and her first thought was dismay at missing practice.

Since that night on the opera house steps, Mary has sought to increase awareness of the social and political happenings in her community. She believes that for Bayview to heal, the people in it need to learn from their mistakes of the past. Learn more about Mary’s journey to social awareness — and her thoughts on how the next generation could get back to their roots.

“We were just as segregated here as we were in the South. Bayview couldn’t have existed if there wasn’t segregation.”