Elouise Westbrook

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Elouise Morris Westbrook
BornApril 20, 1915
DiedSeptember 13, 2011 (96 years old)

Elouise Westbrook (1915-2011) was an American housing rights and health activist in San Francisco. She was one of five activists that made up the Big Five of Bayview.

Life and career[edit]

Westbrook was born in Gatesville, Texas in 1915.[1] She moved to San Francisco in 1949 where she worked as a supervisor at the city's Economic Opportunity Council. After San Francisco embarked on a large-scale redevelopment plan in 1959, thousands of low-income residents were displaced and no new affordable housing was constructed. Westbrook joined the Hunters Point-Bayview Joint Housing Committee to petition the government to include affordable housing. She soon replaced activist Ruth Williams as head of the committee. In 1968, the committee petitioned the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for funds to build new low-income and middle-income housing in the Bay Area.[2] Due to the efforts of Westbrook and the other Big Five of Bayview, the Hunters Point neighborhood project was allotted $40 million in funding in 1971. In 1973, she testified in front of the Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.[3] Throughout the early 1970s, Westbrook lobbied the city of San Francisco to open a free medical clinic in Potrero Hill. The Caleb G. Clark Potrero Hill Health Center opened in 1976.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

She died in her home on September 13, 2011. She was interred next to her husband at the Golden Gate National Cemetery. At her funeral on September 21, 2011, she was eulogized by Mayor Ed Lee and former mayor Willie Brown, who said "she used to scare me" by demanding he answer her calls and showing up at his office unannounced.[5] Actor Danny Glover, who worked with Westbrook as part of the Model Cities Program, also spoke at her funeral.

The Westbrook Plaza Health Center And Housing Complex, which opened three months before her death, is named for Westbrook.[6] San Francisco author William Delaney, one of the first African-American police officers in San Francisco, dedicated his 2011 autobiography to her.[7] In 2007, director Kevin Gordon released a documentary short about her life titled "Tellin' It Like It Is: The Work of Elouise Westbrook".

Personal life[edit]

She was married to Isaac Westbrook, a private in the United States Army during World War II. The couple remained married until his death in 1965. Elouise also has a big loving family scattered across the U.S. Even some still in Gatesville, Texas where she was born.


  1. ^ Jones-Presley, Balynda (8 October 2011). "In memory of Elouise Westbrook, 1915–2011: A message to my community and extended family". San Francisco Bay View. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  2. ^ Baranski, John (2019). Housing the City by the Bay: Tenant Activism, Civil Rights, and Class Politics in San Francisco. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-1503607620.
  3. ^ US Senate Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs (1973). Oversight on housing and urban development programs, Washington, D.C. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session. United States Government Printing Office. p. iv.
  4. ^ Zimmer, Jessica (June 21, 2019). "Caleb G. Clark Potrero Hill Health Center Cares for the Community". The Potrero View.
  5. ^ Metcalfe, Rochelle (28 September 2011). ""I heard that:" A San Francisco pioneer passes ..." BeyondChron. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  6. ^ Bay City News (June 9, 2011). "Officials Celebrate Opening Of Westbrook Plaza Health Center And Housing Complex". San Francisco Appeal.
  7. ^ Delaney, William (2011). An Ethnic Profile: U.S. Air Force Blue to San Francisco P.D. Blue. America Star Books. ISBN 978-1683946014.

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