Welcome to the Friends-Stewards
of African American Museum and Library at Oakland Blog!

This blog focuses on uplifting and highlighting the art, history and culture of African Americans in Oakland, Northern California and the African Diaspora. Each post will delve deeper into the many sectors of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) archives, reference library, museum gallery, and the seed lending library.
We will share and discuss issues of relevance, and engage with our communities through the written word, spoken word, sensory and visual arts. We hope this blog will encourage our community to share their stories, passions, talents, and desires to be the positive change we all want to see. We want to create a safe space that allows critical thinking, insightfulness, ideas, and the sharing of experiences to spark positive social change in Oakland, California, the Nation, and the world.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 
  • July 31, 2023 9:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Giraffes, frogs, dogs, and monkeys; a few of the exotic balloon creations that Kynisha 'Clownologist' Ducre aka Ms. Daisy twists to life effortlessly. On Saturday July 22nd, Ms. Daisy blessed the audience with her stunning clown performance at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. At one time, she even tied a balloon dog behind her back as an eager crowd of little ones counted to ten. Her performance didn’t stop there. Ms. Daisy also taught the crowd how to say their names using sign language and produced a puppet whose mouth and body she maneuvered with superb skill. Later she collected handkerchiefs from the child audience members, placed them in a bag and after a few “Whoop, whoops!” mysteriously pulled out a multi-colored tapestry. How this happened, no one knew. It took children volunteers reciting strange words and marching around the museum gallery to separate the handkerchiefs again. 

    So who is this multitalented, balloon-twisting, sign language speaking, world-traveled Clownologist? Ms. Daisy, more formally known as Kynisha Ducre, describes herself as a professionally trained, yet naturally silly kids entertainer & globetrotter. During her show, she recounted her past international trips to Kenya and many other places. She is also the author of Create in Me: A Biblical Guide With Balloon Twisting Fun. Ducre is a New Orleans native who evacuated to Dallas, Texas in 2005. Her background is quite interesting. She earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Chemistry and has studied interior design. She currently works in space planning at the Google Campus in Silicon Valley. She is also a dance instructor and has performed professionally for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. 

    Ducre is of course very passionate about clown-performing and has won "THE'' top awards from the Texas Clown Association, Clowns of America International, and a top ten award for best All-Around Clown at the World Clown Association Convention in Malaysia. 

    For more information about Ducre, you can visit her website at Her new book Create in Me is also available on Amazon. Her first children’s picture book Go Daisy Go is forthcoming. You can also check out her Alphabet Affirmations for little ones on her youtube page DaisyTheClown.

  • June 13, 2023 9:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “Some of life’s simplest pleasures live in the everyday. These small moments can take on greater meaning and become really big when they come to life in miniature.”- Miniaturist Tammie Knight

    In May 2023, the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) had the pleasure of introducing miniaturist Tammie Knight to showcase her extraordinary art. The exhibition Black Culture: The Art of Photography in Miniature Galleries will be showing through July 15th, 2023 on the second floor gallery of the AAMLO. For miniaturist Tammie Knight, all of her designs tell a story. She describes them as her happy safe place. Knight’s love for miniatures first started when she was nine. Her mother loved life’s adventures in New York and would take her  to shows and museums. One day, her mother took her to the Museum of the City of New York on 5th Avenue. Knight was blown away by the dollhouse and miniature displays on the third floor. The moment was magical and sparked her desire to be around miniatures all of the time. 

    Knight’s father built her her first dollhouse. Even as a child, her mother observed that she was not playing with the dollhouse; rather, she loved to decorate it with small bits of fabric and other delicate pieces. Knight went on to attend the Parsons School of Design where she studied graphic design and art history. Classes there were quite rigorous and intense, but she describes the experience as amazing. Currently, Knight still does graphic design for a few clients, but mostly does miniatures. 

    Knight especially loves miniature projects that are commissions for a specific space. She often goes online for inspiration or walks the specific space she is asked to create. Previously, a client asked for a Tiffany store miniature for his wife’s birthday. Knight had to collect miniature pieces from places like Japan, Spain, Russia and the Netherlands. She spent over one hundred hours creating this miniature project. She visited the shop in Walnut Creek to get a feel for the counter spaces and store experience. When approaching a project, she enjoys the freedom to use her creative license and tell the story from her own perspective. One of her favorite projects was a miniature she created of her room while studying at Parsons School of Design, including her messy office space and a miniature bowl of her favorite Raisin Bran cereal. Her goal is always to create a feeling for the viewer.

    Knight has also had the privilege of working for several CEOs in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Sephora, Bare Escentuals and Optimizely. She also recently did a miniature project for Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Google. She describes her personal collection as 100 banker boxes in size and includes well over $20,000 worth of pieces. A lot of her work lives with other people as gifts or they’re holding onto it for her. Her goal is to eventually do her miniature work full time. Be sure to come to the second floor of the AAMLO to view miniaturist Tammie Knight’s work throughout June and until July 15th.


  • May 17, 2023 4:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From left to right: drummer Randy Ranzel Merritt, bassist Michael Jones, pianist Glen Pearson

    Jazz Appreciation Month at the AAMLO came and went in the blink of an eye. I was honored to attend the evening of jazz with a live performance by the Michael Jones Trio on April 14th. I sat in the first row nodding my head and tapping my foot to the rhythm. I grew excited when I recognized one of their tunes from the Duke Ellington CD my mother used to play in the kitchen. As I looked around the room and saw others smiling upon recognizing the familiar tune, I realized just how tightly the fabric of jazz binds our history, culture and experiences together. The Michael Jones Trio consists of three members: bassist Michael Jones, pianist Glen Pearson, and drummer Randy Ranzel Merritt. As they played together, weaving in and out of solos effortlessly, I could see they had a musical bond that must have taken years to develop. As it turns out, their relationship goes back to the early 80s. Some time after the performance, the bass player Michael Jones was kind enough to offer his time and tell me a bit more about his story and how he started playing jazz music.

    Michael Jones is originally from Denver, Colorado. His earliest exposure to jazz was at home as a child where his parents would play it during social events. Growing up in the early 60s, jazz was the standard music played by older Black people. The popular musicians at that time were John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington just to name a few. Michael first started off playing the clarinet in the Highlander Boys, a Denver organization with the purpose of developing young boys. He recalled the excitement when it was time for children to pick an instrument to play, “I was about 6. When it was time to play instruments, we saw Louis Armstrong playing on the Ed Sullivan Show, so every kid in the band wanted to play the trumpet. The band teacher had to talk kids into playing different instruments. My teacher told me my lips were too big to play the trumpet and encouraged me to play the sousaphone…He later told me that he was only trying to get me to play something else.” 

    Michael later picked up the bass in the late 60s and early 70s when garage bands were quite popular, “We played James Brown music, mostly rhythm blues and funk. The garage bands would have dances and battles of the bands. Back in the day we had music programs in schools, so it was more common for kids to know how to play instruments. One band I was really into was called the Mellow Moods. The jazz singer Dianne Reeves was one of the members.” Michael was surprised when I told him I had not heard the name Dianne Reeves before. I promised to do my homework and look her up. I later found that Reeves was raised in Denver, Colorado and studied classical voice at the University of Colorado. She went on to sing with big name artists such as the late Harry Belafonte. I later asked Michael how he got started playing the bass. He recalled that he started in high school when his band teacher needed him to play in the orchestra and even gave him lessons. He went on to do further studies in college, “When I went to college at University of Colorado, they wouldn’t let me major in music unless I played the string bass. [The string bass] became more me. I still teach electric bass, but I don’t play gigs anymore.” At this point, I was amazed at how many instruments Michael had studied before. To him, this was just normal, and he shared with me that quite a few of his musician friends also dabble in different instruments.

    Michael also reminisced about the importance of music in the Black community back in those days and how the Black radio station was a tool to talk to Black people, “In those days we didn’t have video games. Music meant more. The way people look at their phones nowadays, people listened to records in those days. Most people went to church back then and Black folks had exposure to music through there too. We also had Black radio stations that would play all the music coming out. There would be a new star every two weeks and someone else would have a hit. There’s no cultural connection to our community in the media anymore.” Michael explained how when Bill Clinton introduced the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it allowed larger media groups to swallow up smaller media groups. As a result, we lost nearly all locally-owned and African-American operated stations to larger media moguls, “When we did that we lost control of our music and the ability to control what we like and to make new stars. Everything went underground and then rap started in the late 80s and 90s. When rap started, it wasn’t controlled by Black record producers like Barry Gordy, kids could do whatever they wanted. That was the thing that was being sold as Black culture. There used to be a process of jazz hits, where people would determine the best music. Now stations like KCSM only play music once or twice, but their board controls the music. We don’t have Black ownership anymore, that’s why it’s important we get reparations.”

    Michael told me how he has witnessed the Bay Area Black community dwindle since he first came in 1976, “When I first came, Oakland was considered the Black capital of the West. Everyone knew where the African American Museum and Library at Oakland was. Everybody who lived on the other side of the freeway was Black, all the way up to Chinatown even in North Oakland. There was a time when certain investors wouldn’t invest in neighborhoods in Oakland. But that changed ten years ago. We’ve been under full steam attack for at least 30 years. Now the whole of Oakland is completely gentrified.” We took a moment to reflect on all the new expensive highrises popping up in Downtown Oakland and along Telegraph, how the demographics of our own neighborhoods are changing before our very eyes. Still, Michael continues to work tirelessly to preserve Black music culture and promote young Black jazz artists. He is a member of the Friends of Golden Gate Library where he curates the summer jazz series, a program started in 1990 by the late Philadelphia jazz musician Donald Duck Bailey. Michael books youth musicians to open the show before the main act. He recalled with pride that many of the famous musicians from Oakland came through the program such as Abrose Akinmusire and Howard Wiley. This summer’s jazz series will start Sunday July 16th from 2:30pm to 5pm at the Golden Gate Library. Performances are the same time every Sunday and will end on August 20th. 

    Though Jazz Appreciation Month has come to a close, we can continue to celebrate jazz throughout the year, whether through the summer jazz series at Golden Gate Library or listening to old jazz CDs and recalling the tunes of our childhood. I certainly walk away from this month not only appreciating the music, but also honoring the history, legacy and people behind jazz music.

  • April 19, 2023 2:46 PM | Anonymous member

    Frances Albrier was an accomplished social activist and advocate for civil rights. She was born on September 21, 1898, in Mt. Vernon, New York, and was raised by her grandparents in Tuskegee, Alabama, following the death of her mother when she was just three years old. Albrier graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1920, and later moved to Berkeley, California, where she met and married her husband, William Albert Jackson.

    Frances Albrier becomes an Activist

    Unable to find work as a nurse due to segregation in the Bay Area, Albrier took a job as a maid with the Pullman Company in 1926. While working as a Pullman car maid, she met her second husband, Willie Antoine Albrier, and the two were married in 1934. During the late 1930s, Albrier became involved in various political and civil rights issues, including joining Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and Black Cross Nurse Corps. She also became the first woman elected to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee in 1938 and ran for Berkeley City Council the following year, becoming the first woman to do so.

    Albrier was an active member of many women's, civil rights, and union organizations throughout the 1940s, and she served as a first aid instructor in the American Red Cross. In 1943, after her application to become a welder was denied because blacks did not have an auxiliary union in Richmond, she garnered political pressure in the black community, forcing Kaiser Shipyards to hire her. She became the first black woman welder during World War II, breaking down barriers in the workforce and paving the way for others.

    Honoring a Legacy of Social Justice

    Following the war, Albrier continued to be active in politics, women’s organizations, and civil rights issues. She served as president of many Bay Area organizations, co-chaired local political campaigns, and became an advocate of senior citizens in the 1960s and 1970s. Albrier also dedicated herself to promoting black history and culture, giving presentations to students in the Oakland Public School system and serving as president of both the San Francisco Negro Historical and Cultural Society and the East Bay Negro Historical Society.

    For her community service and many contributions to civil rights in the Bay Area, the City of Berkeley renamed the San Pablo Park Community Center in her honor in 1984. Albrier passed away in 1987, leaving behind a legacy of activism, perseverance, and dedication to social justice. She is a true inspiration for all those who seek to make a positive impact on their communities and the world.

  • April 17, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member

    Everett & Jones Barbeque is a well-known restaurant chain founded in 1973 in Oakland, California. The restaurant chain is owned and operated by the Everett family, who have a rich history of entrepreneurship and community involvement.

    The Rise of Everett & Jones Barbeque in the Bay Area

    The Everett family's journey in entrepreneurship started with Dorothy Everett, who was the matriarch of the family. She was a successful businesswoman who owned and operated several businesses, including a grocery store and a janitorial service. Her entrepreneurial spirit inspired her children to pursue their own ventures.

    In 1973, Dorothy's sons, Everett and Jones, decided to start their own business, a barbeque restaurant. The restaurant was located in Oakland, which was known for its diverse culture and food scene. The restaurant's success was due to its delicious barbeque and its commitment to providing excellent customer service.

    Over the years, Everett & Jones Barbeque expanded to several locations across the Bay Area, including Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, and San Leandro. The restaurant chain has become a staple in the community, known for its delicious food and friendly service.

    Quality Food, Excellent Service, and Community Involvement

    Everett & Jones Barbeque has also been involved in philanthropic efforts, supporting local schools, charities, and organizations. The restaurant chain has provided job opportunities to many people in the community, including those who have faced challenges finding employment.

    The Everett family's success in entrepreneurship and community involvement is a testament to their dedication and hard work. They have inspired many African American entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and make a difference in their communities.


    Everett & Jones Barbeque is a shining example of African American entrepreneurship. The restaurant chain's success is a result of its commitment to quality food, excellent service, and community involvement. The Everett family's legacy continues to inspire new generations of entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and make a positive impact in their communities.

  • April 13, 2023 12:08 PM | Anonymous member

    Ruth Beckford was a pioneering dancer, teacher, and author whose influence on the modern dance scene in the United States is still felt today. Born in Oakland, California, in 1925, Beckford began taking dance lessons at the young age of three and was performing professionally with her twin brothers by the age of eight. Her parents were both active in Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, which instilled in Beckford a deep appreciation for African and Haitian dance and culture.

    Beckford's talent and dedication to dance led her to join Katherine Dunham's Company during her senior year of high school in 1943. She then went on to study Physical Education and modern dance at the University of California, Berkeley, where she became the first African American member of the Orchesis Modern Dance Honor Society. After graduating in 1947, she directed the first recreational modern dance program in the country, teaching dance classes for the Oakland Recreation Department at DeFremery Recreation Center. She continued to perform with Anna Halprin and Welland Lathrop dance companies while leading the dance program for twenty years.

    Ruth Beckford Inspired Great Success in Modern Dance

    In 1954, Beckford founded her own dance company, the Ruth Beckford African-Haitian Dance Company, which toured across the country performing African and Haitian dances. The company's first performance was at the University of California, Berkeley's Wheeler Auditorium. Beckford also opened dance studios in Oakland and San Francisco, where she taught classes in African-Haitian dance using the Dunham technique. Her influence on the modern dance scene in the Bay Area was profound, as she inspired and trained many dancers who went on to achieve great success in the field.

    In addition to her accomplishments in dance and theater, Beckford is also credited with creating the menu and coordinating the first Black Panther Free Breakfast Program. She was a parishioner of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, which organized the first breakfast service in January 1969. Beckford's dedication to social justice and community empowerment was evident throughout her life, and her legacy as a dancer, teacher, and activist continues to inspire future generations.

    Honoring Ruth Beckford's Contributions to Modern Dance and Social Justice

    In conclusion, Ruth Beckford was a trailblazing figure in the world of modern dance, whose contributions to the field continue to be felt today. From her early beginnings as a young dancer in Oakland to her role as a mentor and teacher to generations of dancers, Beckford's impact on the dance world cannot be overstated. Her commitment to social justice and community empowerment is also an important part of her legacy, and her work in organizing the Black Panther Free Breakfast Program is just one example of her dedication to making a difference in her community. The papers and archives at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) are valuable resources for anyone interested in learning more about this remarkable woman and her life's work.

  • April 06, 2023 9:00 AM | Anonymous member

    Oakland, California is known for its vibrant music scene, particularly in the African American community. Many families from Oakland have contributed greatly to the world of music, producing talented artists in a variety of genres. In this post, we will take a look at some of the most notable African American musical families from Oakland, and their contributions to the music industry.

    The Pointer Sisters

    Oakland, California has been home to several African American musical families over the years, with one of the most famous being The Pointer Sisters. The group, consisting of sisters June, Ruth, Anita, and Bonnie Pointer, got their start singing gospel music in their father's church in West Oakland.

    The sisters began performing professionally in the late 1960s and released their first album, "The Pointer Sisters," in 1973. The album featured a mix of pop, R&B, and soul music, showcasing the sisters' versatility and unique style. They went on to release several hit songs and albums over the years, including "Yes We Can Can," "Fairytale," "Jump (For My Love)," and "I'm So Excited."

    The Pointer Sisters became known for their dynamic performances, intricate harmonies, and infectious energy. They were one of the first groups to successfully blend genres like pop, R&B, country, and rock, paving the way for future generations of musicians.

    In addition to their musical success, the Pointer Sisters were also known for their activism and philanthropy. They supported various causes, including the fight against AIDS, and were honored for their contributions to the community with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    Despite changes in the music industry over the years, the Pointer Sisters remain an iconic group and continue to inspire and influence musicians today. Their music and legacy serve as a reminder of the rich musical history and culture of African Americans in Oakland and beyond.

    The Hawkins Family

    The Hawkins family is a name synonymous with gospel music and is among the most prominent musical families from Oakland, CA. Led by Edwin Hawkins, the family has made significant contributions to the gospel music genre and continues to inspire generations of musicians.

    Edwin Hawkins is the most famous member of the Hawkins family and is best known for his 1969 hit "Oh Happy Day." The song became a worldwide sensation and won a Grammy award. Edwin's siblings, Walter, Lynette, and Tramaine, also had successful careers in gospel music, with Tramaine achieving mainstream success with her hit song "Fall Down (Spirit of Love)."

    The Hawkins family's musical journey started in the 1950s when Edwin and his brothers formed the group "The Hawkins Family." The group began performing in local churches in Oakland and quickly gained popularity. In the 1960s, the family formed "The Edwin Hawkins Singers," and their first album, "Let Us Go into the House of the Lord," was released in 1968.

    The album featured the hit single "Oh Happy Day," which was originally a gospel hymn. Edwin Hawkins and his team rearranged the song, adding contemporary elements to it, and the resulting track became a massive hit. The song's success brought gospel music to a mainstream audience, and it became an anthem for the civil rights movement.

    In addition to Edwin, the Hawkins family has produced other notable gospel artists, including Walter Hawkins, Lynette Hawkins Stephens, and Tramaine Hawkins. Walter Hawkins had a successful solo career, and his hits include "I Love You, Lord," "Changed," and "Going Up Yonder." Lynette Hawkins Stephens also had a successful solo career and is best known for her hit song "He'll Make a Way."

    Tramaine Hawkins achieved mainstream success with her hit song "Fall Down (Spirit of Love)," which reached number one on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. She also worked with notable artists like Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, and Andraé Crouch.

    The Hawkins family's contribution to gospel music has been immense and has earned them numerous awards and honors, including Grammy awards, Stellar Awards, and induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Their music has inspired generations of gospel musicians and continues to uplift and encourage listeners around the world.

    In conclusion, the Hawkins family is a testament to the rich musical heritage of Oakland, CA. Their legacy in gospel music is a reminder of the power of music to inspire, unite, and uplift people, regardless of their background or beliefs.

    The Dwayne Wiggins Family

    The Wiggins family is known for their contributions to R&B and soul music. The family includes Dwayne Wiggins, a guitarist and founding member of the group Tony! Toni! Toné!, and his brothers Antoine and Raphael, who are also musicians.

    Tony! Toni! Toné! burst onto the scene in the late 1980s with their debut album "Who?". The album included the hit single "Little Walter" and established the group as a major force in the R&B and soul music scene. Their follow-up album, "The Revival", was even more successful, with hits like "Feels Good" and "It Never Rains (In Southern California)".

    The success of Tony! Toni! Toné! continued through the early 1990s, with the release of their album "Sons of Soul" in 1993. The album featured classic tracks like "If I Had No Loot" and "Anniversary", and solidified the group's place in the pantheon of R&B and soul music.

    In addition to his work with Tony! Toni! Toné!, Dwayne Wiggins has also worked as a producer and has collaborated with a number of other artists over the years. His brothers, Antoine and Raphael, have also been involved in various musical projects.

    The Wiggins family's contributions to R&B and soul music have had a lasting impact on the genre, and their influence can still be felt today. Their legacy is a testament to the rich musical history of Oakland, and the city's ongoing cultural contributions to the world.

    African American Families Shaped the Music Industry

    These are just a few of the many African American musical families from Oakland that have left their mark on the music industry. From gospel to R&B to jazz, these families have contributed to a variety of genres and continue to inspire musicians today.

  • April 04, 2023 9:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This year, Women’s History Month at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland was marked with a movie screening, museum tours, a local restaurant anniversary celebration and much more. 

    On Saturday March 11th, AAMLO kicked off Women’s History Month with a Meet the Author event. Author Dean Calbreath came to introduce and discuss his book The Sergeant: The Incredible Life of Nicolas Sa’id. Nicholas Sa’id (1836-1882) was a young Black man born in the African Kingdom of Borno, whose life took on a drastic change when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Sa’id went on to learn many languages, become a world traveler and even fought in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

    I had the pleasure of attending the Diva Collection Film Marathon on March 18th. I learned about the lives of pivotal Black women in history, including Mary Ellen Pleasant (1814-1904), a financier, entrepreneur and abolitionist, Mabel Mercer (1900-1984), an English born cabaret singer and Barbara Lee, an American politician who has served as a US representative from California since 1998. There was also a special screening of the documentary film The Stax- Respect Yourself. Stax Records is a Tennessee-based record company founded by two siblings who produced famous artists such as The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Johnny Taylor, Booker T and the M.G.s and many more.

    On March 25th, the AAMLO closed out the month with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Everett and Jones Barbeque Restaurant, a Black-owned family restaurant chain. Patrons celebrated the memories with film footage and a panel discussion, followed by awards and gifts for guest. 

    Though Women’s History Month has come to a close, we will continue to celebrate the stories and contributions of women in history. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend March events. Don’t forget, April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Be sure to join us for a night of jazz and history starring the Michael Jones Trio on April 14th, 5pm to 7pm at the AAMLO!

  • March 07, 2023 9:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In February 2023, the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) celebrated another Black History Month under the theme of Black Resistance. From public museum tours, to a quilting exhibit, a seed workshop and much more, AAMLO lifted up the many ways in which Black people have resisted oppression and continue to resist in this country. I was fortunate to attend the museum tour on February 11th and the Black Resistance: Starting from a Seed Workshop led by Ms. Claudia Noble-Levingston on February 25th.

    During the museum tour, I learned the stories of many Oakland heroes. Did you know that in 1926 Prescott School hired Ida Louise Jackson (1902-1996) making her the first Black teacher to work in Oakland Public schools? Previously, the Oakland Unified School District had denied her application for employment numerous times. It was not that she was unqualified. In fact, by 1924 Jackson had already earned a BA and Masters from UC Berkeley. The Oakland Unified School District at the time simply refused to hire Black teachers. After being hired, Ida was met with hostility and protests; however, she persevered and was still greatly loved by many of the students she taught. Ruth Acty (1913-1998) followed in Jackson’s footsteps. Though she too faced barriers to employment, she went on to teach in El Centro, Berkeley and Monterey. Jackson and Acty were not the only ones who paved the way for Black teachers and students in Oakland through resistance. In 1957, Elizabeth Thorn-Scott (1828-1967) and her husband Isaac opened a school for Black children from their home in Oakland. The tour also featured William Watts (1885-1980) who in 1926 founded Oakland’s first African-American hospital, Royal E. Towns (1899-1990) who in 1941 became the first African-American to serve as chief operator of the Oakland Fire Department, Emmanuel Francis Joseph (1900-1979) the first professional Black photographer in the Bay Area and many others.

    Of course I had to come back for more excitement. At the Black Resistance: Starting from a Seed Workshop, I enjoyed hearing more about Ms. Claudia who is a fourth generation land steward with roots in Virginia. I learned that during the second Great Black Migration from 1940 to 1970, almost six million African-Americans fled the Jim Crow South moving to places like New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle and Philadelphia. Many of them brought seeds to plant black eyed peas, okra, collard greens and other traditional crops. Towards the end of the session, Ms. Claudia showed us how to start our own legacy garden by planting seedlings in paper cartons. We left with plenty of seeds and even sweet, organic homegrown tangerines. Thanks to AAMLO’s seed lending library, my family and I are hoping to enjoy purple tree collards, tomatoes, golden peppers and bush beans later this year.

    Though Black History Month has come to a close, my heart is filled with the stories of Black people who have and are still resisting in Oakland. As a Black woman educator from Oakland, I leave this Black History Month holding my head a little higher, knowing the names of my ancestors who have paved the way for me.

    Works Cited

  • January 15, 2023 8:16 PM | Anonymous

    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:

    In Remembrance of Martin - Martin Luther King Film Festival and Discussion

    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.

    Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. (A Film for Children)

    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 (

    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 (

    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 (

    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

<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 

Mailing Address:
Friends-Stewards of AAMLO
P O BOX 72234
Oakland, CA  94612
Phone:  510-574-7955

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software