The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was no stranger in Oakland, visiting on several noted occasions during his lifetime. These engagements included a historic address delivered at the Oakland Auditorium on December 28, 1962, to a crowd of over 7,000 attendees. Marking the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Dr. King expanded on themes that would soon become famous in his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington. As reported by Newsweek and Jet, King used the Oakland centennial address to announce his support for a nationwide selective-buying campaign to boycott products of discriminatory firms.
Some have written how Dr. King used his Oakland addresses to workshop and refine the messages of later speeches, including his famed expression, “the bank of justice is bankrupt.” Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale recalls the direct impact hearing King's economic remarks had on his thinking (and later Panther boycotts and food survival programs):
"I went to hear Dr. King speak for the first time in 1962 at the Oakland Auditorium. I was an engineering and design major at college and I wasn't a part of any organization yet. The auditorium held 7000 people and every seat was packed. He was speaking about boycotting the bread companies that were refusing to hire people of color. He said "We're going to boycott them so consistently and so profoundly, we're going to make Wonder Bread wonder where the money went." I got so enthusiastically involved with the civil rights movement after Martin Luther King inspired me." (Bobby Seale interview with Kyle Long, Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers)
Others have noted how Dr. King’s overall appearances in the Bay Area galvanized Black political thought locally. These visits included stops to Oakland at Evergreen Baptist Church (1957), Mills College (1958), to fundraise for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1961), at Bethel Baptist Church (1967) and to meet with those imprisoned after the October 1967 Stop-the-Draft Week demonstrations. King's final trip to the Bay came in January 1968, when he visited Joan Baez and others who were serving 45-day sentences in Santa Rita Prison for a nonviolent sit-in at the Oakland Draft Board. As Rev. Ray Williams, of Morning Star Baptist Church, told the Oakland Post of King's local public lectures and appearances:
“The predominantly Black audience[s] signaled for a political awakening that set the stage for the elections of Attorney Thomas Berkley and Barney Hilburn to the Oakland Board of Education, and Byron Rumford to the State Assembly.” (Reverend Ray Williams, "Dr. King’s “Bank of Justice is Bankrupt” Speech Was Tested in Oakland in 1962," Oakland Post)
AAMLO will celebrate the long legacy of Dr. King in Oakland, in person on Monday January 16, 2023.
This year's feature films are:
The documentary captures the career and leadership of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights movement. Included in the film are comments honoring Dr King by Coretta Scott King, Desmond Tutu, John Lewis, Senator Edward Kennedy and more.
11:30 AM – 11:45 AM
This short film for children introduces Dr. King as a young boy that grows into an inspiring man. The film allows children to relate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and introduces them to the serious topic of segregation.
The March: The Story of the Greatest March in America | Events | Oakland Public Library (bibliocommons.com)
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
The film, "The March" recounts events of the 1963 March on Washington where 250,000 people came together to form the largest demonstration witness.
Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility | Events | Oakland Public Library (bibliocommons.com)
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Driving While Black features African Americans sharing their experiences of a sense of freedom and mobility to keep moving forward in their lives. Although the automobile brought mobility and freedom it also exposed them to discrimination and deadly violence.
American Masters: Maya Angelou, and Still I Rise | Events | Oakland Public Library (bibliocommons.com)
Join us for a screening of "Maya Angelou: American Masters: Maya Angelou, and Still I Rise". Maya Angelou lived an extraordinary life, raising up from poverty, violence and racism to become a renowned author, poet, playwright and civil rights activist. Maya Angelou became a confidante to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X throughout their civil rights journey.
4:00 PM – 5:15 PM
We hope you join us for this year's IN PERSON MLK Film Festival
Location: 659 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612