The Emperor Norton Trust


The Emperor Norton Trust is a nonprofit, founded in 2013, that works on a variety of fronts — research, education, advocacy — to honor the life and advance the legacy of Joshua Abraham Norton (1818–1880). From 2013 though the end of 2019, the Trust was known as The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign.

Featured Fun

The Emperor Norton Trust in partnership with the Mechanics’ Institute is sharing two videos:

Video 1. Emperor Norton in Black San Francisco: Notes on SF’s Monarch of the Marginalized

On September 17, 1859, Joshua Norton announced his public reign as Emperor of the United States with a proclamation that appeared in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin.

156 years later, in 2015, The Emperor Norton Trust inaugurated Empire Day as a new annual holiday to mark the anniversary of this momentous declaration.

With the United States in the throes of a national conversation about what it means to speak and act as though black lives truly matter, this Empire Day has provided an important opportunity to consider what that meant for Emperor Norton and how that might have shaped his idea of the empire he sought to bring forth.

Join Emperor Norton Trust founder John Lumea for a discussion of the Emperor’s relationships with leading black intellectuals and editors of his day — including Peter Anderson, whose abolitionist weekly The Pacific Appeal between 1870 and 1875 published the lion’s share of Emperor Norton’s proclamations — as well as the Emperor’s well-documented insistence on equality, civil rights and expanded legal protections for black people.

Video 2. New Suite for an Old Phoenix? The San Francisco Flag Reconsidered–a conversation with historian John Lumea and designer Brian Stokle

View this discussion of the lost design history of San Francisco’s municipal flag followed by a look at a new design by Brian Stokle — a design that finds in the flag’s original, mostly forgotten depiction of the phoenix an opportunity to create a new civic symbol for San Francisco that can do what all great city flags do: foster solidarity and esprit de corps in times of crisis and calm alike.

John Lumea’s historical essay on the San Francisco flag is here.