Nice weather for our walk for Black History Month. A little chilly at first, but nice once we got going. We talked about a lot of people, organizations, and events, so here’s a brief recap.
The walk was a fundraiser for Friends of the Hoover Durant Public Library, which is working to get one again in the Hoover Durant neighborhood near San Pablo. Read about the old North Oakland branch library.
Other tours featuring black history in Oakland include This is Oakland Bike Tours, led by Rehema Allen, whose family stretches back to early California and Oakland history; and Black Panther Power Walking Tours, led by Saturu Ned, a BPP member.
- Calvin Simmons – namesake of the theatre, first African American director of a major symphony
- Martin Luther King, Jr. – spoke at auditorium December 28th, 1962, the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863. The Apollos of Oakland Tech worked to get MLK Day made a holiday here in California before it became a national holiday.
- Bobby Seale – co-founder of the Black Panther Party, and 1973 candidate for Oakland mayor announced his candidacy at the auditorium.
- Black Panther Party – co-founder Huey Newton was on trial here for killing OPD officer John Frey. Author and former judge Lisa Pearlman spoke about the trial and her two books about it, The Sky’s the Limit: People V. Newton the Real Trial of the 20th Century and American Justice on Trial: People V. Newton. The trial transformed what “a jury of one’s peers” means in trials. The BPP evolved over time, from gun-carrying to community self-help focused.
- 1200 Lakeshore – Huey Newton lived for a time in the penthouse, under heavy security, in part because of COINTELPRO.
- Marcus Foster – first black superintendent of the OUSD, first to head a major U.S. school district. Assassinated by Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA, of Patty Hearst fame) in 1973 with cyanide tipped bullets because they mistakenly believed he supported mandatory student ID cards, police in schools and other Big Brother-esque stuff. See Paul Robeson Administration Building.
- Ida Louise Jackson – first black school teacher in Oakland schools in 1926. Only until Beth Pierre Wilson was hired 13 years later.
- Elizabeth Flood – she and husband Isaac Flood helped desegregate Brooklyn (town east of Lake Merritt) and then Oakland school in 1872.
- Oakland History Center – run by Dorothy Lazard; a great place to learn more about Oakland history and research your own family
- Morrie Turner – first nationally syndicated African American cartoonist with “Wee Pals”. Initially in 5 papers; after assassination of Dr. MLK, Jr. it was in over 100. Also one of the founders of what became AAMLO.
- Royal Towns – early black firefighter, and first to be promoted
- Alice Street Mural – amazing multi-story, multi-wall mural; alas no longer visible. Featured numerous people from Oakland history.
- Malonga Casquelord – Cameroon-born drummer and dancer; died in auto accident in 2003 and center renamed in his honor.
- Ruth Beckford – dancer and dance instructor; In 1947, she founded a recreational modern dance for Parks and Rec in Oakland: the first in the United States. Also organized the BPP free breakfast for school. We heard from one of her students and friends, who also taught dance.
- “I enjoyed every day” – East Bay Yesterday podcast on Ruth Beckford
- Thomas Berkley – lawyer, founder of Oakland Post, and later Oakland Port Commissioner; oversaw containerization of Port of Oakland.
- Chauncey Bailey – journalist and editor-in-chief of Oakland Post; gunned down by Yusuf Bey IV and Devaughndre Broussard while investigating Your Black Muslim Bakery.
- Paul Cobb – current editor and publisher of Oakland Post
- Oakland Tribune Tower
- Robert Maynard – journalist, editor and later owner of Oakland Tribune
- Delilah Beasley – journalist and historian, first African American woman to be regularly published in a major U.S. newspaper; big part of why we know about contributions of blacks in early California
- Trailblazer : Delilah Beasley’s California by Dana Johnson
- John B. Williams – city planner for Oakland in 1960s and 1970s; bust near 12th St. BART
- Henry Gardner – city manager of Oakland before “strong mayor” from 1981 to 1993
- Lionel Wilson – first black mayor of Oakland, 1977-1991; pitched for Oakland Larks baseball team
- Jennie Prentiss – woman born into slavery; became Jack London’s nursemaid and later loaned him $300 to buy his first boat
- Jack London Oak
- Ronald V. Dellums – longtime representative in U.S. Congress; mayor of Oakland for 1 term
- C. L. Dellums – Ron Dellum’s uncle, and one of the organizers of the Pullman Porters union
- Barbara Lee – current representative in U.S. Congress
- Donald P. McCullum – civil rights attorney, judge, and creator of youth court
- William Byron Rumford – pharmacist, community leader, and politician; passed Fair Housing Act to fight redlining and restrictive covenants
- Redlining – systematic practice of denying services to people in specific areas, generally along racial lines.
- “Unfair Housing” – East Bay Yesterday podcast about Byron Rumford and redlining