Come to the Water: Teaching California Black History 2022

In 1922, just seven years after arriving for the Panama Pacific International Exposition, Sargent Claude Johnson won the first prize in the S.F. Art Association annual competition.
The second session of the seven week Come to the Water: Teaching California Black History course on Saturday, Jan. 29 is devoted to the massive scale of his public art across San Francisco.
Oxford University Press historian John William Templeton, architect of the proposed Sargent Johnson National Museum of African-American Art on the San Francisco waterfront, describes Johnson’s role to open doors for African-American Art.
The discussion begins at 11 a.m. and can be seen in person at 181 2nd St., the former Adolph Gasser building, or by live streaming. Registration is at and includes six of Templeton’s books on the Golden State’s seminal Black imprint.
From the History of Athletics at George Washington High School to Incas and Llamas at Treasure Island and fresco and terra cotta at the front and back of the National Maritime Museum, Johnson is too big to be ignored.
But yet he is.
As part of the 6;000 site California African American Freedom Trail, Johnson’s public art is critical to reversing the displacement of African-Americans from San Francisco.
In coming weeks, Come to the Water presents:
Feb. 5–CAAFT tour beginning at MLK Memorial Waterfall
Feb. 12–Architectural and Political Significance of Third Street
Feb. 19–Survey of the proposed Maya Angelou National Historic District
Feb. 26–Black Maritime History sea cruise from Pier 43 1/2
March 4-5 Roy Clay Sr. Pinnacle Awards featuring Gregory Robinson, Director James Webb Space Telescope. March 4 gala cruise has Lea Sweet, the Black Queen of Country Music as lead performer.
This is the 14th year of the seven week course, designed to go beyond shallow celebrations to real discovery. Templeton covered the first proclamation of Black History Month in 1976 as a White House reporter. After arriving in California as the first Black editor of a business newspaper, he edited the four volume Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, which won the 2002 Library Laureate award from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.
In the Oxford Encyclopedia of African-American History, he contributed African-Americans in the West.
“This is the centennial of Johnson’s breakthrough as well as the 100th anniversary of Carter G. Woodson’s first textbook,” notes Templeton. “Educators and policy makers need the clarity of official sources to withstand attacks on Black history.”