Joined La Cocina: November 2011
In 1961, when Fernay’s mom, Loretta, stepped off the Greyhound bus after a three-day ride from Port Arthur, Texas, escaping the sticky heat of the South, Fernay’s grandmother, Lillie Bell Riley, served fried chicken and pound cake to welcome her to foggy San Francisco. That wave of the Great Migration is long gone, but you can find its legacy still.
Fernay was born at Kaiser Hospital on Geary Street in 1977, the year Ella Hill Hutch was elected as the first female African American city supervisor in San Francisco, a year before Jim Jones’s Fillmore Street utopian dream disintegrated, a time when African Americans made up 13 percent of the city’s population. By 1979, San Francisco’s redevelopment agency was nearly finished bulldozing through the most vital parts of the Western Addition and Fillmore neighborhoods. The bulldozers erased 2,500 Victorian homes, displaced 4,729 households, and led to the closure of well over 800 businesses in the core of San Francisco’s black community.