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San Francisco city officials on Friday unveiled a new mural in the city’s Fillmore District commemorating the city’s first Black firefighter Earl Gage Jr.
The new mural is located at Rosa Parks Elementary School, located at 1501 O’Farrell Street.
Gage began serving with the San Francisco Fire Department in 1955, becoming the first Black firefighter. He retired in 1983.
Gage, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 90, served as the only Black firefighter and person of color within the department for over 10 years, eventually paving the way for other minorities to join the department, city officials said.
“Earl Gage Jr. was a trailblazer, not only for Black firefighters but for all City workers who have dedicated their careers to serving the people of San Francisco,” said Mayor London Breed. “Our city has a long history of Black leaders, and as we work to establish equitable policies that will move us all forward, it is critical to ensure that their legacies are not forgotten. This mural will remind our children and community members of those who sacrificed so much for the betterment of our city and will forever embed the life and career of Earl Gage Jr. into San Francisco’s history.”
District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston said, “Earl Gage Jr. is a historic figure, and I was proud to work with the Black Firefighters Association to rename a street after him, and now I’m excited to take part in a mural unveiling with the community, dedicated in his honor at Rosa Parks Elementary.”
Back in 2020, supervisors approved renaming Willow Street, in the city’s downtown area, Earl Gage Jr. Street.
“What I most admire about Earl Gage Jr. is despite the disrespect, abuse, and vitriol, he had that inner vision that he was paving the way for others. The strength it must have taken is inspiring. Because, all people, be they Asian, Hispanic, women, LBGTQ, stand on his shoulders,” said Fire Captain Sherman Tillman. Tillman is the former president of the San Francisco Black Firefighters Association.