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History of Marin City

one way sign with road and water and hills in background

In the 1940s, a beautiful San Francisco Bay-side community, with rolling, sparsely populated hills, existed in obscurity.  World War II brings this community to the forefront with the need for warships.  W.A. Bechtel Company was awarded a contract to build World War II warships and because of this effort, Marin City was born.

May contain: person, human, military, and navy

African Americans from the south would come to Marin City in search of employment and opportunity.  An integral part of the war effort, the African American workforce came primarily from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi build warships aiding the war effort.  Segregation and redlining relegated African Americans to the small community north of Sausalito.

On February 16, 1944, residents formed the Marin City Council, Inc. in an effort to provide basic services to Marin City residents.   Marin City residents aimed to be self-sufficient and, in a county unwelcoming to African Americans, the foremothers and forefathers of modern Marin City residents decided to plant roots in the County of Marin.

Marin City residents would also show resolve to stamp out racism. The Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders and Helpers of America refused to admit African Americans yet required Black Shipbuilders to pay dues. In a 1944 landmark case, James vs. Marinship, argued by then-attorney and future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, African Americans ensured that union membership could not be foreclosed to individuals on the basis of the arbitrary immutable characteristic of race.

In an act of further self-determination, residents formed the Marin City Community Services District (“MCCSD”) on January 27th 1958.  The inaugural Board of Directors included the following individuals: Jesse E Berry, Sr., Juanita Sedalia Cobb, Bruce Baldwin Risley, Harley C. Jeffrey and Harrison N. Bailey.   Charged with providing refuse collection services, fire protection, public recreation, street lighting, and resources for police to safeguard life and property.

marinship machine shop

Through County of Marin-managed redevelopment, apartments and townhomes were built to replace World War II-era housing.  In later years, Marin City would serve as a safe haven for the those who fought for equality.  Members of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense would find refuge in this tight-knit community as they sought to avoid persecution from Oakland law enforcement. 

Since the formation of MCCSD, Marin City residents have fed, clothed, educated, employed and cared for generations of Marin City residents.  MCCSD continues this work to embracing the values of community, civic engagement and self-determination.  On behalf of Marin City residents and MCCSD Board of Directors, welcome to MARIN CITY!