Mickey Stewart came to the San Francisco StoryCorps booth on August 15, as part of a community partnership with Friends of Negro Spirituals, an Oakland-based group that continues and holds the tradition and heritage of spiritual songs.
Mickey came with stories rich with culture and history. He talked about San Francisco’s North Beach during its heyday of the “Beat” era and also when the Fillmore District, once known as “Harlem of the West,” was a lively and thriving black-owned jazz mecca before the city’s redevelopment plan targeted some 60 square blocks and forced the removal of 200 black-owned businesses. The plan affected more than 13,000 Fillmore residents, mostly African American. After redevelopment, block after block had nothing but large empty lots where buildings had been razed.
Mickey recalled some of the happiest times of his youth spent near old Fillmore, street like the Chicago Barbershop, Red Shoe shop, and Kansas City Bar-be-cue.