RELEASE: Victoria Manalo Draves Park Initiative
Name the old
Bessie site after Victoria Manalo Draves.
grassroots community effort to finally validate one of SoMa's unsung
heroes by naming the new park scheduled to begin construction in September
after native daughter Victoria Manalo Draves, who had to overcome many
hurdles to showcase her athletic prowess at the 1948 London Olympics,
where she two gold medals for platform diving, representing the United
raised in the South of Market in 1925 and a student at Bessie Carmichael,
Victoria Manalo was the daughter of a Filipino father and an English
mother during a time when it wasn't cool to be of mixed race. She wasn't
allowed to swim in some of the city's most prestigious sports clubs
because of her heritage, and her father was not allowed watch his own
way through the AAU ranks, she was encouraged to use her mother's maiden
name — Taylor — which the dominant society thought was more acceptable.
But in true people power spirit, she declined.
became a star attraction for Adolf Sutro at the Sutro Baths near the Cliff
House before they were torn down. She advocated for the Filipino Education
Center in the mid-1960s when the second wave of Filipino immigrants came
to America and largely settled in the South of Market district. This was
the period of the "brain drain," when America took the brightest from
developing nations and allowed them to fill only secondary labor force
jobs, while the corresponding U.S. generation of young adults were serving
in Vietnam. Now 80 years old, she is retired and lives with with her
Thus far, a
resolution has been passed by the Board of Supervisors in support of
Victoria Manalo Draves Park, as well as a resolution from the South of
Market Project Area Committee and various other neighborhood groups. The
Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame continues to deny Vicki admission. Now is our
time to trump all of the nonsense and recognize someone who carries and
represents the true spirit of San Francisco.
To get your
neighborhood group involved or to learn more about our petition drive,
please feel free to contact me at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation at
953 Mission St. Suite 30. Join with the Friends of Victoria Manalo Draves
Park Initiative and be part of history.
Manalo Draves has described childhood in San Francisco and her road to the
Olympics in an
oral history for the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles.