Category: History and remembering

Oakland Leaders Celebrate César Chávez’s Legacy

District 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas honors leaders of Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) as part of Oakland City Council’s commemoration Tuesday evening of the legacy of César Chávez. Photo by Ken Epstein.

In celebration of the legacy César Chávez, the Oakland City Council this week recognized local community leaders  who represent that legacy “through their leadership and community service.”

Honored by Councilmember Dan Kalb were Jane García, chief executive officer, and Dr. Christina X. Chávez-Johnson, MD, at La Clínica de la Raza. César Chávez was Dr. Chavez-Johnson’s great uncle.

“Founded in 1971, La Clínica de La Raza provides community-based primary healthcare services, designed and delivered in a manner which appropriately addresses the cultural and linguistic needs of a diverse array of people from Latino, Asian, African and other heritages,”  according to La Clínica’s website.

Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas honored the Oakland-based organization, (MUA), a membership organization that promotes social and economic justice for immigrant women. MUA works to  implement the Domestic Workers Bill of rights, supports victims of domestic violence and fights for sanctuary and to end family separation.

René Quiñonez, recognized by Councilmember Sheng Thao (front right), is owner of the Movement Ink apparel store.

René Quiñonez, recognized by Councilmember Sheng Thao, is owner of the Movement Ink apparel store. One of his recent projects was making the T-shirts for the Oakland teachers’ strike.

District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo honored Chris Iglesias and the Fruitvale District-based organization he leads, the Unity Council.  Gallo recognized Iglesias for his “commitment to low-income and immigrant families” and tireless effort to implement “a social equity agenda.”

Gary Jimenez, vice president of politics at SEIU Local 1021, was recognized by Councilmember-at-Large

Gary Jimenez, vice president of politics at SEIU Local 1021, was recognized by Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan.

Rebecca Kaplan. Jimenez, a custodian at Fremont Unified School District, has served as a labor and community leader in Oakland for more than 20 years.  Kaplan said that Jimenez has a “proven track record of … advocating for those whose voices are so often unheard.”

The Mayor’s Office honored Gema Quetzal Cardenas, an Oakland high school student and former student member of the Oakland Board of Education, was appointed by then Gov. Jerry Brown to serve on the state Board of Education for the 2018-2019 school year.

District 6 Councilmember Loren Taylor recognized Fremont High School Assistant Principal Nidya Baez.

 

District 6 Councilmember Loren Taylor recognized Fremont High School Assistant Principal Nidya Baez, herself a graduate of Fremont High and currently a District 6 resident. “I knew I wanted to work alongside my community by helping to increase youth voice and leadership since I was 16 years old,” she said.

District 7Councilmember Loren Taylor honored Zeydi Gutierrez, who works at AB&I Foundry in Oakland.

 

Published April 4 2019, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Oakland May Name Road in Honor of Oscar Grant

Community leaders join together to endorse naming road next to the Fruitvale BART station as “Oscar Grant Way.” Shown (L to R) are: BART Board President Bevan Dufty, BART Director Lateefah Simon, Oscar Grant’s aunt Bernice Johnson, Council President Rebecca Kaplan, Oscar Grant’s mother Wanda Johnson and Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

 

By Post Staff

The Oakland City Coun­cil’s Life Enrichment Com­mittee passed a resolution this week to name the un­named road adjacent to the West side of the Fruitvale BART Station between 33rd to 35th Avenues as “Oscar Grant Way.”

The resolution was in­troduced last year by Coun­cilmember Desley Brooks in one of her last official acts and co-authored by Council President Rebecca Kaplan. At the Tuesday meeting, Councilmembers Loren Taylor and Lynette McElhaney were added as co-sponsors of the resolu­tion, which will be heard at the council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

It was determined the street was on BART prop­erty, and, BART Board Presi­dent Bevan Dufty and BART Director Lateefah Simon spoke at the committee meeting in fa­vor of the resolution.

“I want to thank Desley Brooks for putting in an effort to put this in today,” said Oscar Grant’s relative, Ceogus “Un­cle Bobby” Cephus Johnson.

“For 10 years I have been saying it is because of the com­munity and political figures and clergy and activists in the streets that prayed with and for us and speaking on behalf of us for Oscar’s name to never be forgotten. Thank you. We will do what we’ve got to do to name this street,” he said.

Said Oscar Grant’s mother Wanda Johnson, “I would first like to thank God and to the BART Directors for carrying this forward. I am so grateful today that you all see that Os­car’s life lost was not in vain.”

“His death has sparked a movement. One of the atone­ments is for BART to name the street after my son, Oscar Grant. Thank you for seeing this injustice and not ignoring it but acting,” she said.

Council President Kaplan said, “We are here…to honor a life that was tragically cut short at the Fruitvale BART station. The activism of the family and the community sparked an international move­ment. We need to honor the life of Oscar Grant, the activism his death has sparked, and we need to continue to fight for a world where Black men and boys are not targets of these types of killings.”

Said BART Board President Dufty: “I want to thank Oscar’s mother for working with me. I want to apologize to the com­munity, and to take account­ability for the delays that have occurred in naming this road. I am 100 percent in support and am committed to working with my colleague Lateefah Simon to correct this at the upcoming BART Board meeting on Feb. 14.”

In her remarks, Simon said, “We are 10 years too late. I apologize to the community. The BART Board will move mountains to name this street after Oscar Grant. We will or­ganize like Oscar’s mother has organized internationally. We will do this. We have no choice.”

Oscar Grant III was a 22-year-old African-American man who was fatally shot in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009 by BART Po­lice Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland.

Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Two officers, including Mehserle, forced the unarmed Grant to lie face down on the platform.

Mehserle drew his pistol and shot Grant in the back. Grant was rushed to Highland Hospi­tal in Oakland and pronounced dead later that day.

The events were captured on multiple official and pri­vate digital video and private­ly-owned cell phone cameras and went viral. Huge protests against police actions took place in the following days.

Published January 18, 2019, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Patricia Williams-Myrick,80, Beloved Oakland Street Academy Principal

Patricia Williams Myrick (right) and her daughter Kelly Mayes in 1976.

By Post Staff

 Dozens of family members and hundreds of students mourn the passing of Patricia “Pat” Williams Myrick, who raised generations of young people as the principal of the Oakland Emiliano Zapata Street Academy.

She was also the matriarch of a wonderful family – her daughter Kelly; her three granddaughters – Mechele, Tiani, Genai and four great-granddaughters – Chazae; Chalynn, Avri, and Chazity.

“She made kids want to learn,” said Kelly, who spent much of her young life at the Street Academy and speaks with pride of her mother’s accomplishments.

Pat, the oldest of nine children, is credited with a remarkable combination of love and determination, which made the Street Academy an oasis of peace for the 40 years that she led it and to the current day.

The school has no security guards, no police and virtually no fights. Because families trusted Pat, she always knew the news, both good and bad, and she could head off problems before they occurred.

She trusted the faculty to create and carry out culturally relevant and rigorous curriculum. The school was one of the first in the country to require an ethnic studies history course, in addition to math and science courses that could lead to college admission for all students.

Gina Hill, the school’s current principal, says that Pat was the person she always called for advice in the years after Pat retired. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Ms. Pat. She is my West Coast auntie who believed and stated often, ‘Together we can make a change.’ “We need to believe this today more than ever. Ms. Pat loved and led fiercely, and I am proud to stand on her shoulders.”

Corrina Gould, a leader of Oakland’s Ohlone community, graduated from the Street Academy in 1984 and sent her own children to the school. She talks about Pat’s leadership on Facebook:
“She ran a school that was safe, and it didn’t matter what ‘hood’ you rep’d cuz when you were at Street, you were a student, and she would find out stuff about you even if you were messing up on the weekends. She would hold you accountable for your actions. “She never really had to yell; she could talk to you low and quiet and get your attention. She was always dressed to the nine’s and kept up her hair and ‘those nails’…

“I will miss her laughter and the way she stood up so straight that you felt like she could tower over anyone. She was bigger than life and I love her. I thank our ancestors for allowing us to cross our life paths.”

Musician and Street Academy Executive Assistant Bobby Young worked with Pat for 40 years and says of her, “The fact that the Street Academy continues today and is so effective is her legacy.”
Toynessa Kennedy, a doctoral student at Mills College, credits Pat with changing her life. “She helped me in high school; she helped me get to college; and she helped me get together with my now husband.”

There will a celebration of Pat’s life during the Martin Luther King Day week-end and more stories about her in next week’s Oakland Post.

Published December 28, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Remembering Ron Dellums, West Oakland-born Orator, Political Leader and Fighter for Justice and Humanity

Ron Dellums at civil disobedience demonstration at the South African Embassy to bring an end to Apartheid. (c) Rick Reinhard.

By Ken Epstein

The following are some of the outpouring of statements on Facebook from Oakland residents following the news that former Congressman, Oakland Mayor and Berkeley City Councilmember Ronald V. Dellums died early Monday morning.

 

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Barbara Lee

 “I was lucky to call Congressman Ron Dellums not just my predecessor, but also my mentor and dear friend.

“Congressman Dellums was the father of coalition politics. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus, advocating for social and economic justice for his community and communities across the country.

“His principles and values were evident in not just his policies, but also his actions. He was proud to be a feminist, way ahead of his time, ardently supporting women’s rights before it was the norm. His anti-apartheid work, anti-war efforts, civil rights advocacy and historic chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee improved countless lives.

“He was a social worker, which was evident in the way he tackled challenges and fought for the most vulnerable among us. Congressman Dellums always said that when constituents came to his office asking for help, we must ask ourselves ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ He said if the answer is yes, you help that person. No doubt about it.”

Oakland City Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan

 

“His passion and commitment made a deep impression on me, when I was a young politician. I will never

forget reading his response, when then a Berkeley Councilmember, Dellums was called a radical, ‘If it’s radical to oppose the insanity and cruelty of the Vietnam War, if it’s radical to oppose racism and sexism and all other forms of oppression, if it’s radical to want to alleviate poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness and other forms of human misery, then I’m proud to be called a radical,’ he said.

“Besides our work- related interactions, I was also honored to have the opportunity to share bible study with him.”

 

Kitty Kelly Epstein, educator and aide in Mayor Dellums’ administration:

Dr. Kitty Kelly Epstein

“Ron Dellums was the epitome of kindness, courage, dignity and path-breaking politics. He was the first in Congress to oppose the war in Vietnam, the first Black congressman elected from a mostly white district, the first to introduce legislation for universal health care and for sanctions against apartheid in South

Africa.

“And he was Oakland’s most progressive mayor thus far.

“Although he got less credit for this leadership, because he was not the choice of the corporate media, he was the first to explicitly fight gentrification.

“He strategized to maintain working class jobs in Oakland, insisted that local control of the school district be returned to its residents, lowered police costs by rejecting costly police overtime, cut the homicide rate by more than a third, insisted on the indictment of the killer of Oscar Grant, appointed the first West Oakland resident to the Port Commission, invited the formerly incarcerated into the Mayor’s office to be close to him and work with his reentry specialist.

“He personally appeared at an elementary school where an immigration raid was rumored. And he listened to the voices of 800 people who worked on his community task forces. There is much more than what can be posted in this small space.

“We will miss his jokes, his speeches, and his wisdom. And most of all we will miss his love for humanity. He believed that we would all come together to fight climate change because eventually we would recognize that we are ‘all in this foxhole together.’

“Let us make it so.”

 

Local business woman Cynthia Mackey

 

Cynthia Mackey

“Ron Dellums was the only Oakland politician that ever took an interest in me and my business and gave me opportunities to be in the forefront. I can’t thank him enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel Bustos, director of Intergovernmental Relations for Mayor Dellums:

Miguel Bustos

“Working to end apartheid was one of Dellums’ primary legacies when he left a 27-year career in Congress in 1998. Dellums first introduced a sanctions bill in 1972.

“The anti-apartheid movement in the United States was nascent in the early 1970s, but Dellums pushed for sanctions year after year. Success came in 1986 when the House passed Dellums’ legislation. Then-President Ronald Reagan rejected a Senate version of the bill, but his veto was overridden. It was the first time in the 20th century that Congress overrode a foreign-policy veto.”

 

Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks:

Desley Brooks

“Ron paved the way for so many elected officials and professionals, especially African Americans. He was a trailblazer, a visionary and most of all he was the conscience of Congress when we needed it.

“When I was in high school, Ron gave me my first job in politics; I interned in his D.C. office for two summers. That experience exposed me to so many great people and provided me with a great example of true public service. I am forever grateful to you Ron Dellums.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Lorigo, former school counselor and coach: 

Johnny Lorigo

“He was truly a bright, kind and wonderful gentleman. I first met Ron when he was a recreation director at Lafayette Elementary School (in West Oakland) during summers when he was a SF State student.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Shanks, executive director of the Cypress Mandela Training Center

Art Shanks

Congressman Dellums was responsible for bringing the Green Job Corps to Oakland with seed money of $250,000 in partnership with Laney College and the growth sector. The Oakland Green Job Corps is still very much needed and has been replicated all across the United States. Congressman (Dellums) truly believed in workforce development and was adamant about pre-apprenticeship training and education; he was an avid supporter of Cypress Mandela.”

 

 

Kweli Tutashinda, Brotherhood of Elders Network/Imhotep Chiropractic

 

Kweli Tutashinda

 “(In 1967 and 1968), Ron was the only elected official at major Black Power gatherings and rallies to free Huey Newton. He was that rare politician who had the courage to embrace radical politics in an electoral forum.

“One of America’s greatest orators, Ron, as Mayor of Oakland attempted to usher in Participatory Democracy by engaging over 800 citizens in a task force process that met for over six weeks. Two-hundred proposals were created that are still exerting their influence in Oakland.

“Ron’s legacy is huge. The American with Disabilities Act, South African freedom, and American conversion of military bases to civilian use are just three of his impressive accomplishments.”

Ron Dellums, “Political Lion of the Bay Area,” Dies at 82

 

Ron Dellums

By Post Staff

Ron Dellums, a progressive political giant who was born in West Oakland and represented the East Bay in Congress for 27 years and later served as Mayor of Oakland, died early Monday morning in his home in Washington, D.C. He was 82.

According to Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb, quoted on ABC7, Dellums was “the political lion of the Bay Area. He was unafraid to challenge authority from a principled position. He stood strong and solid.”

Cobb, a close personal friend of the former Congressman, was among those who pushed a reluctant Dellums to run for Oakland mayor, who served from 2007 to 2011.

A former social worker, Dellums began his political career as a member of the Berkeley City Council before being elected to Congress 1971 as an anti-war in Vietnam candidate who then spent decades in the House of Representatives fighting for equal rights and social justice.

When he first arrived in Washington, he demanded a Congressional investigation into U.S. war crimes in Vietnam. Ignored by his pro-war colleagues, he held “his own informal hearings, which drew national attention,” according to the New York Times.

“As antiwar protests raged outside the Capitol, a former Army sergeant told in unsworn testimony how he and his platoon had massacred 30 men, women and children in a Vietnamese village. It was a shocking beginning,” the Times said in its obituary of Dellums.

As a member of Congress, winning a dozen election campaigns, he helped found the Congressional Black Caucus and served as chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee.

Dellums led a 14-year campaign against apartheid in South Africa. He eventually wrote the legislation in 1986 that mandated trade embargoes and divestment by American companies and citizens with holdings in South Africa.

Congress overrode President Ronald Reagan’s veto of the bill, a first in 20th-century foreign policy.  Sanctions ended in 1991 when South Africa repealed its apartheid laws.

In 1993, while serving as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, he was the sole sponsor of a bill to integrate gays and lesbians into the military.

After retiring from Congress, he was recruited by Oakland residents to run for mayor. An informal group, a committee called “Draft Dellums,” collected 8,000 signatures and presented them to the former Congressman at a public meeting at Laney College.

As hundreds of Oaklanders chanted “Run, Ron, Run,” he famously replied, “”If Ron Dellums running for mayor gives you hope, then let’s get on with it.”

As part of his transition plan, Mayor Dellums brought the enthusiasm and energy of Oakland residents directly into the local governing process at City Hall, organizing 41 task forces that involved over 800 residents to make recommendations for new city policies, including public safety, jobs, anti-gentrification, support for small businesses, local hiring and education.

In 2009, Dellums reported that the city had implemented two-thirds of the task force recommendations.

He was the only mayor in the last several decades to dramatically decrease the cost of police overtime expenditures. Since Dellums left office, overtime pay for police officers has been growing rapidly again – with little discernable effort to keep these expenses within the city budget.

While in office, he cut the city’s homicide rate by more than a third and insisted on the indictment of the BART officer who killed Oscar Grant,

The Dellums administration joined with the Oakland school district create a program to diversify the teaching force, bringing more Black and Latino educators into the district. His office helped a new program, Teach Tomorrow in Oakland, to obtain $2.7 million in federal funding.

He led citywide efforts to bring millions in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal and state stimulus funding to Oakland, totaling over $300 million.  The new resources were prioritized for the needs of low-income residents in severe needs, resulting in the generation of over 14,000 short-terms jobs and other community benefits.

He pushed for the state to return local control of the school district to the city’s residents, ending the state takeover that had been engineered in part by State Senator Don Perata and previous Mayor Jerry Brown.

Dellums hired a reentry specialist to work in his office and brought the formerly incarcerated into City Hall.

Born in Oakland on Nov. 24, 1935, Ronald Vernie Dellums was one of two children of Vernie and Willa (Terry) Dellums. His father was a longshoreman. His uncle, C. L. Dellums, was  an organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Ron Dellums with wife Cynthia

Attending McClymonds High School in West Oakland, he played baseball with the future Major League legends Frank Robinson and Curt Flood.

After graduating from Oakland Technical High School in 1953, he joined the Marine Corps. Discharged in 1956, he attended Laney College in Oakland. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1960 from San Francisco State College and a master’s degree in social work in 1962 from UC Berkeley.

He was memorialized by his daughter Piper Dellums, who wrote:

“He was the first Democratic Socialist in Congress who also called himself a

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Congresswoman Barbara Lee on AIDS Walk at Lake Merritt in Oakland on Sep 8, 2007.

feminist. He was a hero to the invisible, to the oppressed, to the lost and shattered, the marginalized, the despised and abused, the faceless, from the evicted to the incarcerated, from the healed to the disabled, from the activists to the veterans. He was a peace-monger….

“He was focused on human trafficking and the AIDS pandemic and the human condition and the Cuban Missile Crisis and human dignities in every race, gender, and sexual orientation including in the military.”

As word of Dellums’ passing spread,  social media was filled with an outpouring of love from those whose lives he touched. He is remembered by his family: his wife Cynthia, his children Pamela Holmes (deceased), Rachel Chapman, R. Brandon Dellums, Erik Todd Dellums, Piper Monique Dellums, stepson Kai Lewis, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Services will be held in Washington, D.C. and Oakland. Information will be provided at a later date.

Published Aug. 1, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Oakland Post Reporter Ken Epstein Wins John Swett Media Award

Ken Epstein received the John Swett Award for Media Excellence at a California Teachers Association (CTA) reception Friday in Los Angeles. Show are (l-r): Eric C. Heins, CTA president; Theresa Montaño, CTA vice president; Ken Epstein; Mona Davidson, Communications Committee Chair, CTA; Trish Gorham, Oakland Education Association president; David Goldberg, Secretary-Treasurer, CTA. Photo by Mike Myslinski/CTA.

By Post Staff

Oakland Post reporter and contributing editor Ken Epstein has received the 2018 John Swett Award for Media Excellence for reporting on education issues, an annual statewide competition hosted by the California Teachers Association (CTA).

The award reception, held last Friday in Los Angeles, honored winners who were nominated by local teacher union chapters.  The contest was judged by a panel of professional journalists.

Epstein won in the category of weekly and semi-weekly newspapers. This is the third year in the row that he has received the award, nominated by the Oakland Education Association.

He won for his news analysis about how, back in 2003, he says political leaders helped engineer state control of the Oakland Unified School District.

By not allowing the district to use facilities bond money to balance its budget and then repay the money to itself, state and local politicians forced the district to borrow $100 million, which resulted in the state takeover of the district and the loss of local control, according to Epstein’s article.

The appointed state administrator was removed in 2009, but impact on Oakland’s budget continues, he wrote.

The district still owes the state $40 million, which it is repaying at $6 million a year.

“Our judges praised Ken’s story for providing ‘historical context to ongoing educational disputes in Oakland’ and praised this example of ‘smart political reporting,’” according to a statement released by the CTA.

Questions Continue on Fate of Oakland Public Library’s African-American History Books

 

Discarded library books. Photo courtesy of John Jones III’s Facebook page.

By Ken Epstein

Concerns over the erasure and preservation of Black history and culture in Oakland’s public libraries continued to grow this week, as City Administrator Sabrina Landreth explained library policy on discarding books, while District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks rasied questions on the specifics of the policy and how it is implemented.

Oakland Public Library’s practice of discarding books was brought to public attention last week when community member Assata Olugbala showed up at week’s City Council meeting with an armful books on African American themes that the library had discarded.

One of the emails the Oakland Post received on the subject asked, “How do we protest the discarding of African American books at Oakland Public Library? I am infuriated!”
In a memo dated May 7 to the Oakland City Council, City Administrator Sabrina Landreth wrote:

“Upon research, these particular books, in addition to others, were withdrawn from the Elmhurst Branch Library, having been published between 1990-2007, about 11-28 years ago.
“Books are officially withdrawn periodically to keep the collection responsive to patron needs, to ensure its vitality and usefulness to the community, and to make room for newer materials or newer formats.
“When OPL discards a book, it is typically donated to the local branch of the Friends of the Oakland Public Library.”

In removing books from its 18 branches, Landreth said Oakland follows the guidelines of the American Library Association.

“Oakland librarians are professionals that receive formal training in the care and management of the OPL collection,” she said. “Decisions about what to have in the collection are made by subject specialists at each location based on the needs and interests of the community”

Brooks replied to Landreth in a letter, questioning the policy and seeking information on whether it was followed in this case.

“While your memo responds generally to the concerns raised it doesn’t provide adequate information to make an informed determination that the proper protocols were followed prior to discarding the books,” she wrote.  “This is a serious and extremely troubling issue which warrants a more comprehensive response.”

Further, she wrote, “It is insufficient to say that we follow the American Library Association guidelines. We should revisit a policy which gives the public perception of purging the history and existence of a community. We should make sure that the community is involved in the deselection process. We should also develop a policy to donate discarded books to community and educational institutions.”

Citing OPL policy, Brooks said the library uses statistical reports to analyze whether books are being used by patrons, but “your memo fails to provide sufficient information to determine whether any of this analysis was completed,”

Said Post Publisher Paul Cobb, a former library commissioner, “It is going to be hard for African Americans to support a library tax this year when the Oakland Public Library shows such disregard for   the preservation of Black history information and culture.

“I asked the mayor to resolve this matter, and she said she would look into it, but she has not responded,” said Cobb.

Published May 10, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Oakland Public Library Discards African American History Books

Oakland Public Library Main

 

By Post Staff

Community activist Assata Olugbala shocked members of the community and council members when she spoke at this week’s City Council meeting, revealing that the Oakland Public Library is discarding Black history books, which could instead be utilized by community organizations and schools in the city.

Discarded library books.

Olugbala held up some of the books that she recovered: Fannie Lou Hamer, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Madam C.J. Walker, Sweet Daddy Grace, Paul Robeson Charles Drew.

Discarded library books. Photo courtesy of John Jones III’s Facebook page.

“This is all I could carry today,” she said. “I have a room full of books from the Oakland Public Library concerning African Americans that have been discarded. You should see the African American children’s books I have in my closet.”

The Oakland Post has contacted Mayor Libby Schaaf, asking if she is going to intervene to save African American Books. She replied, saying she ‘is looking into it.”

Councilmember Desley Book sent an email to the City Administrator expressing the Councilmember’s concerns.

“I watched in horror and disbelief as Ms. Olugbala displayed African American library book after library book that had been discarded. Some of the books she displayed were collectors’ items,” Brooks wrote.

“What we saw was tantamount to a quiet book burning and an erasure of a people’s history from a community.  This is a troubling visual for a city that wants people to support another library tax,” she wrote.

Published May 3, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

 

 

 

Oakland Steps Out for Faith with a Joyful Noise

The city of Oakland has long been considered the citadel for progressive civil rights and political movements involving activism for racial and social inclusion and equity.

 In response to neighbors’ complaints about the loud sounds of music coming from churches, ministers and churches called for a public demonstration of respect for its churches instead of using the police and fines to punish their congregations.

More than 30 pastors stood in solidarity with Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. They were joined by city and county officials along with the SambaFunk! drummers, church choirs, gospel soloists and Black Arts groups.

True to its radical and revolutionary roots, Oakland is redefining respect for religion. Ministers called for the city to declare itself, to be a sanctuary city for its sanctuaries.

The First Amendment and religious freedom were embraced by a coalition that included the Oakland NAACP, the Post News Group, Baptists, Methodists, Muslims, Mormons, COGICs, AME, Catholics, the Black Arts Movement, Soul of Oakland, Oakland Private Industry Council, Pastors of Oakland, Baptist Ministers Union, Seventh-day Adventists and many others.

The event took place Saturday, Nov. 7 in front of the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church on Adeline Street in West Oakland. It was the response to a city noise complaint against Pleasant Grove that kicked off the current solidarity movement.

Speaking at the event, Amos Brown of the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco said his church has faced similar attempts to silence worship.

He told the crowd that earlier this year “two rogue cops” entered his church one afternoon to tell parishioners to quiet down during a service, where a gumbo band was playing in honor of a church member who had passed away.

But he told the police: “We are going to sing, we are going to shout. We’re going to let nobody tell us to shut up.”

The arts community and the religious community are coming together, said Theo Williams of the SambaFunk! drummers, who performed at the event.

“We came here to stand with you in solidarity,” he said. “This is monumental.”

Said Mayor Libby Schaaf, who spoke after Theo Williams, “This city has some strong roots, and these roots are in our faith community and our arts community.”

“My city has some SambaFunk!,” she said.

City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, who is a rabbi, urged people to raise their voice and sing out in praise.

“It is a miracle that we are still here to sing praises,” said Kaplan, referring to the holocausts faced by Black people during the Middle Passage, Jews during World War II and indigenous people in the United States during the Trail of Tears.

“We give thanks that we have survived to this day,” she said. “Let us use this as a force to unite.”

Bishop Joseph Simmons of Greater St. Paul Baptist Church praised church and community members who have spoken up about attacks on the right to worship.

“I want to thank the people who complained because your complaints made us stand up,” he said.

Rev. Ray Williams of Morning Star Baptist Church said people have to stand up to forces that want to push them out of the city.

“We used to steal away to Jesus to worship,” he said. “(But) we aren’t going to steal away anymore. We’re here to take back what gentrification has taken away from us.”

“We need our council members to have the courage to challenge chase bank for reneging on it’s promise to Oakland,” said Post publisher Paul Cobb.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November 13, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)

New Biography of Loren Miller, Civil Rights Attorney and Journalist

Loren Miller was one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights attorneys from the 1940s through the early 1960s, particularly in the fields of housing and education.Loren Miller biography

With co-counsel Thurgood Marshall, he argued two landmark civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decisions effectively abolished racially restrictive housing covenants. One of these cases, Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), is taught in nearly every American law school today.

A new biography by Amina Hassan, “Loren Miller: Civil Rights Attorney and Journalist recovers this remarkable figure from the margins of history and for the first time fully reveals his life for what it was: an extraordinary American story and a critical chapter in the annals of racial justice.

Born the son of a former slave and a white mid-westerner in 1903, Loren Miller lived the quintessential American success story, both by rising from rural poverty to a position of power and influence and by blazing his own path.

In her book, Hassan reveals Miller as a fearless critic of the powerful and an ardent debater whose acid wit was known to burn “holes in the toughest skin and eat right through double-talk, hypocrisy, and posturing.”

As a freshly minted member of the bar who preferred political activism and writing to the law, Miller set out for Los Angeles from Kansas in 1929.

Amina Hassan

Amina Hassan

Hassan describes his early career as a fiery radical journalist, as well as his ownership of the California Eagle, one of the longest- running African American newspapers in the West.

In his work with the California branch of the ACLU, Miller sought to halt the internment of West Coast Japanese citizens, helped integrate the U.S. military and the L.A. Fire Department, and defended Black Muslims arrested in a deadly street battle with the LAPD.

Hassan charts Miller’s ceaseless commitment to improving the lives of Americans regardless of their race or ethnicity. In 1964, Governor Edmund G. Brown appointed Miller as a Municipal Court justice for Los Angeles County.

The story told here in full for the first time is of a true American original who defied societal limitations to reshape the racial and political landscape of twentieth-century America.

Dr. Amina Hassan is an independent historian and award-winning public radio documentarian whose productions include a 13-part series for National Public Radio on how race, class, and gender shape American sports.

Former a member of the staff of radio station KPFA in Berkeley, she currently works as a media content consultant and researcher for the Azara Group.

Courtesy of the Post News Group, Oct. 30, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)