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Dr. Willie Ratcliff broke racial barriers for SF’s black workforce and journalists

Dr. Willie Ratcliff looks at a copy of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper office during a portrait session in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, September 22, 2022. Dr. Ratcliff and his wife, Mary (not pictured), bought the Bay View in 1991 and have distributed the newspaper all over the Bay Area, as well as to prisoners all over the country. | Juliana Yamada for The Standard

What prompted Dr. Willie Ratcliff, an owner of a construction firm that had over 500 Black employees at its peak, to pivot away from his business and risk his financial security in order to fight for civil rights in San Francisco? His belief in the power of journalism.

The longtime publisher of the San Francisco Bay View was also driven by his passion for the Black community that once ruled San Francisco’s southeast.

At 19 years old, with one child and another on the way, Ratcliff moved to San Francisco from Texas in 1950. In those days, the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood was a thriving enclave of Black culture. Black-owned businesses filled the commercial districts and homeownership was high—driven in large part by good-paying jobs at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, where Ratcliff was employed.

“Hunters Point was the happiest hood I’d ever seen,” Ratcliff said.

Read the full story here.

Meaghan Mitchell can be reached at