Oakland

Mural, Mural on the Wall: A self-guided tour of Oakland’s murals

The whole city of Oakland is a canvas. Over 1,000 murals can be found throughout the city, covering once-empty walls in explosions of color. Street art is inherently radical, and many of Oakland’s murals deal with themes of protest, injustice and identity. Like the city itself, Oakland’s murals are bright, bold and unapologetic. By nature, street art changes all the time, but there are enough murals in Oakland to satisfy any urban explorer. Although street art can be found anywhere in Oakland, certain neighborhoods have more murals than others. Here is a self-guided tour to three of Oakland’s best mural neighborhoods—a full map of all the murals in the city is available at VisitOakland.com under “Mural Map.”  San Pablo and Golden Gate  San Pablo Avenue, which runs the length of B...

On Her Way Sen. Kamala Harris: The Oakland in me

Kamala Harris’ selection as Joe Biden’s running mate for the 2020 presidential election made history as the first Black woman on a major ticket. It’s historic for the East Bay as well. Only one person born in California, Richard Nixon, ever served as president or vice president—and he was a Southern Californian. Her roots here run deep—as does the symbolism of Oakland as the most racially diverse city of its size or larger in the United States. The first sentence of her bestselling book, The Truths We Hold, mentions both Alameda County and Oakland. And her presidential campaign kicked off January 27, 2019 at Frank Ogawa Plaza.  In her autobiography, she describes preparing for a contentious 2012 phone call with JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. “I took off my earrings (the ...

Photography as Social Activism: OMCA reveals digital archive of Dorothea Lange’s photos

American photographer Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” is widely seen as a defining portrait of the Great Depression; the woman it depicts, and her children, are etched into our collective image of that challenging time in American history. But while that photo was shot not far from San Luis Obispo in Central California, Lange actually spent most of her career shooting in her own backyard: the East Bay. A longtime Berkeley resident, Lange captured the Great Depression, World War II and beyond in the Bay Area. And now, for the first time, her personal archive is available online, for free. The Oakland Museum of California, the keeper of Lange’s collection, has unveiled an online digital archive  with more than 600 of Lange’s photos, many of which have never been seen before. In the mi...

Marcus Books Reaches Milestone: The nation’s oldest independent Black bookstore celebrates its 60th anniversary amidst Black Lives Matter movement and global pandemic

Marcus Books, the oldest independent Black bookstore in the United States, turned 60 this year. Between global pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and the death of Marcus Books founder Dr. Raye Richardson at age 99, this has been a rollercoaster of a year for the Richardson family and their landmark shop and publishing press. Loud calls to support Black businesses have prompted increased attention on Marcus Books, a welcome shift at a time when Covid-19 has been decimating small businesses that rely on in-person interaction.  Covid-19 social distancing protocols meant that the store—which has hosted countless Black authors and icons, from Muhammad Ali to Toni Morrison—spent part of their milestone year unable to welcome customers into the shop. An online fundraiser started by loyal...

Check the Fridge: Oakland community tackles food insecurity with street corner fridges

As of early August, over 130,000 people in the Bay Area had lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus shutdown. We’ve all seen the shuttered restaurants, cafes and shops in our neighborhoods. The long term impacts of the pandemic are numerous, but unemployment has exacerbated one issue in particular: hunger. There were already 870,000 food-insecure people in the Bay Area before the Covid-19 crisis (more than the entire population of San Francisco), and need has only grown. As food banks and food-justice organizations work to meet increased need, some community members have taken it upon themselves to end food insecurity in their neighborhoods, one fridge at a time. Several groups, including a grassroots community organization and a grocery startup, have installed free fridges in the East Bay ...

Up in Smoke Again: The looters arrived and the call for help went unanswered

Illicit weed, black-market weed, flooded Oakland’s streets and suites before looters robbed cannabis and cash from local dispensaries during the riots following George Floyd’s murder. Now, the city is even more saturated than ever before with illicit weed. Looters not only hit dispensaries, they also hit cannabis gardens, distributors and manufacturing centers. Reeling from the violence, Oakland and its citizens are haunted by the police department’s failure to protect private property. Something’s rotten and stinks like the Bay at low tide. “Marijuana businesses are accustomed to being hit,” Dale Sky Jones tells me, during a long, one-sided phone conversation that might be called a rant. The Chancellor at Oaksterdam University—the world’s most prestigious institution devoted to the study ...

Score: Could the nation’s first Black-owned football team be based in Oakland?

In the wake of the tragic and violent death of Black father and community member George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests around the country—including here in the Bay Area—have led to major changes in racial justice and police policy, including the defunding and restructuring of local police departments, investment in Black-owned businesses and more. But now, Bay Area racial justice is entering a whole new arena: football. A group of Oakland business people have proposed bringing a new, exclusively Black-owned football team into Oakland to replace the Raiders.  The proposal, sent by the African American Sports and Entertainment Committee, is the first step in a long process to bring the NFL’s first Black-owned team to the city. The NFL has acknowledged the proposal but not yet responded;...