DDB Interns Take to the Streets to Rewrite San Francisco’s History for Women’s Equality Day

In celebration of Women’s Equality Day on August 26, DDB San Francisco’s summer interns are honoring the foremothers of the City by the Bay by taking to the streets to rewrite the city’s history - quite literally.

Inspired by the fact that only 27% of all the streets named for historical figures in San Francisco are named after women, the agency’s interns launched the “Ms Representation Project,” an effort to reclaim the story of San Francisco in the name of some of the city’s less-recognized female pioneers and even the score of history. The interns recently hit the streets and spray-chalked “Ms." in front of male-denoted street names stamped into curbs all over the city, along with the project’s Instagram handle (@MsRepresenationProject). For example, King St., named for former state senator Thomas Butler King, became Ms. King St., named for San Franciscan jazz club owner and “Queen of Fillmore” Leola King. San Franciscans were invited to visit the campaign’s social profile to read the her-story of the incredible women that the streets, thanks to DDB’s efforts, now recognized. 

The intern team has reassigned nearly 14 streets to female namesakes across the city, highlighting women of all industries and eras. All of the women’s stories will also be immortalized via the campaign’s website, msrepresentationproject.com. Here is a peak at some of the stories:

Margaret Buckner Young –– Whitney Young Circle, San Francisco, CA, 94124

Whitney Young was an important American civil rights leader in the mid 1900s, and for whom the San Francisco street, Whitney Young Circle, was named. Whitney was married to a young lady by the name of Margaret Buckner Young, and while she does not have a street named after her, she is most deserving of one. Margaret was an author, educator, and fellow activist. The African-American couple advocated for racial equality together. But Margaret's mission extended beyond local politics: she fought to improve international relations, too.

Margaret incorporated advocacy in every one of her pursuits. She wrote children's books about civil rights and African-American history. After her tenure as an educational psychology professor, she became a public school tutor to help the parents adjusting to integration. And following her husband's death, Margaret preserved his legacy through the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Memorial Foundation, an institution supporting scholars working in equal opportunities and race relations. In 1973, Margaret even became a member of the United States' delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

To incite change, Margaret’s key strategy was to lead by example. Her work with New York Life Insurance Company and Philip Morris made her one of the few African-American women to serve on a corporate board. She also collaborated with Philip Morris to curate an exhibit of Vatican art at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the many nonprofit art organizations of which she was also board member. Among her many feats, one thing was for sure: Margaret Buckner Young is a figure we want to remember.

Jessie Benton Frémont –– Fremont Street, San Francisco, CA, 94105

Fremont Street is named for John C. Frémont –– an American soldier, politician, and explorer in the mid 1800s. However he was best known as "The Pathfinder”, despite being Union Army Major General and the first Republican Presidential candidate in the U.S. That is because his wife (and fellow political professional), Jessie Benton Frémont, recorded and published all of his expeditions. Jessie’s reports included maps, scientific documents, and romanticized stories. Her writing ended up in newspapers across the country and in the hands of would-be settlers. Senator James Buchanan even ordered 10,000 copies to be printed for emigrants, strengthening Jessie's influence on national expansion. Because of her relentless pursuits to promote her husband, she ultimately helped promote America –– making it the country we know today.

Sally Stanford –– Stanford Street, San Francisco, CA, 94107

You might be familiar with Stanford Street and Stanford Heights Avenue. They were both dedicated to Leland Stanford, one of San Francisco’s leading entrepreneurs and politicians in the late 1800s –– and eventually, the founder of Stanford University. Yet there is another Stanford who, while not related to the wealthy and well-known Leland, was popular among a different audience. Still, to this day she remains largely underrepresented, despite having made a significant impact on San Francisco in her own right.
Sally Stanford’s eclectic career made her one of the Bay Area's most memorable mid-20th century figures. She started out as madam of one of San Francisco's most notorious brothels, which was once jokingly referred to as the founding place of the UN (due to the high volume of delegates who frequented there). But Sally's fame and politics didn't stop there –– in addition to opening a successful "scene-y" restaurant in Sausalito, she fought her way into serving as a Sausalito City Councilwoman and eventually, as mayor in 1972. Sally led an incredibly inspirational life –– pushing gender boundaries from the brothel to the podium. 


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