Reverend Cecil Williams, in front of the “Church of Change” exhibit at the Tenderloin Museum.
After six years of planning, prodding, and devotion, Mr. Randy Shaw and a large team of supporters has made the Tenderloin Museum a reality. The effort, fully supported by Mayor Ed Lee, has produced a wonderful space on the corner of Leavenworth and Eddy, right in the heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin. The museum tells the story of how the Tenderloin has developed since it was razed by the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. It is a story of vice, crime, revelry, sex, and acceptance.
Only two blocks away from the museum, in the very center of the Tenderloin, GLIDE stands proudly to serve the needs of the underprivileged. Reverend Cecil Williams was honored today by Mr. Shaw, who spoke of GLIDE’s long history of acceptance of all people. He spoke specifically about how it was GLIDE that kicked off support of gays and lesbians in the 1960s, a fact that goes largely unknown. Mayor Lee, flanked by Cecil and GLIDE’s Janice Mirikitani, spoke of GLIDE’s leadership in bridging the widening gap between those that have and those that have not. Ms. Tho Ti Do, the leader from Vietnamese Youth Development Center, spoke about developing the VYDC at GLIDE, where she rented space years ago. In fact, she and Mr. Shaw met at GLIDE in 1980 while he also rented space here as the original Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. In his own comments, Cecil spoke of the Tenderloin as being on the cutting edge of social justice and acceptance of all individuals.
The Tenderloin Museum is small and compact and wonderfully instructive about a community in San Francisco that often goes overlooked. It will be a magnet for people that otherwise would not come to the Tenderloin to visit, and who will directly help the local community by frequenting great restaurants, shops, and other artistic venues. As pointed out by Mayor Lee, there is a groundswell of investment coming into the Tenderloin, fully supported by the City and County of San Francisco. The Tenderloin Museum displays the history, which will inform the future.