Mary and Willie Ratcliff, publishers of the San Francisco BayView Newspaper, were honored recently at the newly located Lorraine Hansberry Theater in the heart of Union Square.
Guests at the Dec. 29 event met the couple behind the newspaper for the past 20 years and enjoyed appetizers before watching the holiday musical Rejoice. The evening was organized by Wright Enterprises and LaHitz Media’s “Our Media Matters” Theater Night,
Mary Ratcliff was born in Harlem to a progressive mother who organized rent strikes and was a member of Communist Party in the Thirties. “That’s the stock I come from,” she said proudly. She became an attorney and met and married Willie, with whom she has shared the past 35 years. “He is the love of my life, and after we acquired the paper, I fell in love with it as well.”
Willie Ratcliff, also proud of his upbringing, was born in East Liberty, Texas, and remembers working at the age of 2, pushing cotton to the cotton gin. “By eight I was driving a tractor at $1.25 an hour.”
Though Willie came from humble beginnings, his grandmother and parents went to college and had land before the Civil War. “We had a new name in those days; Dem Ni…… is crazy – because we fought back for our rights and governed ourselves,” he said.
When he learned about San Francisco, Willie decided to move to California.
“The community has lost too many of its institutions,” said Mary, who looks forward to promoting Lorraine Hansberry. “As with any company, it needs money and more advertising dollars to thrive,” she said.
The Ratcliffs said their newspaper and the Lorraine Hansberry are examples of Bay Area institutions coming together to create more opportunities for the youth and community.
The evening honoring the Ratcliffs was also a fundraiser for their Youth Media Project, which the Ratcliffs hope will pass media experience to the next generation.
For information go www.wrightnow.biz.