Honoring Black History: Efforts to make Marin City a city

Black History Month

MARIN, Calif. (KRON) – Marin City sits in one of the richest counties in California — It is historically the home of the largest number of Blacks in Marin County.

Yet despite its name, Marin City is not a city. It is an unincorporated area of the county and KRON4 found out, many of its residents want that to change.

“The county needs to take their knee off our necks and be able to give us what we deserve,” Paul Austin said. 

“The majority of the county knows that Marin City has been ignored,” Damian Morgan said. 

“It’s all about power and it’s about control right. We know right now that the county, they make decisions based on power that they know we don’t have any control over,” Austin said. 

Paul Austin and Damian Morgan are part of an effort to make Marin City, a city. 

Money is key, they say. As an example, after the county last collected all the property and sales taxes from Marin City.

The December 2020 allocation for services back to Marin City was just over $46,000.

Arguably, to most county residents, Marin City is just a name on a freeway sign but there is a rich history here.

Marin City was created by the federal government during World War II for shipbuilding. People poured in for jobs, war houses were built for them to live in and a park which is still here with a mural that now documents the past.

A past also kept alive in the memories of the families that were here from the beginning.

“My dad came from Lake Charles Louisiana in 1941. He came to make a life,” Terry Thompson said.

“I came from the south from Louisiana and Marin City just reminded me so much of the small town that I came from,” Florence Williams said. 

“We had the old war houses up there, we just had all the hillsides we could roam around,” Donald Parker said. “My family, my uncle my grandfather my whole family.. this is our family heritage.”

Most of the whites who came here for jobs eventually moved out after the war to other areas of the county or Bay Area but Blacks were not allowed that luxury because of racist housing restrictions — So they stayed and made Marin City their home.

In 1960, Blacks made up about 90% of population here.

“Well if we don’t it’s going to be annexed by Sausalito,” Thompson said. “If we don’t get a hold of it they’re gonna take it over.”

“With incorporation, we get it back. Therefore we can do what we feel is best for our community,” Morgan said. 

“I’ve always felt neglected from the county. Just sitting in meetings with my mom and always having to go to the table to ask for you know, resources to come back. It’s just not fair,” Austin said. 

Incorporation would allow residents to elect their own leaders, run police and fire, capture property and sales tax income.

“Marin City means everything to me,” Morgan said. 

“Marin City has my heart and I am gonna do everything I can to make sure that the folks here in Marin City have what they need,” Austin said. 

Marin City is a mile and a half northwest of downtown Sausalito.  

Just over 3,000 people live there and it is considered the most diverse area in Marin County.

The exploratory committee says the process to incorporate will likely take up to two-years and a key first step is educating the citizens about the value of living in a full-fledged city. 

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