Tuesday, August 2, 2011

walking tour: New Era, New Politics

The other week I took another of the city-sponsored walking tours. This one was the New Era, New Politics walking tour, which is the newest of the 8 tours the city offers. It also focuses on some of the more recent history of Oakland, though as we learned, that has connections further back, too.


We started the tour in from of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), part of the Oakland Public Library system. Alas, since it was a Monday and the AAMLO was closed, I couldn't check out the museum afterwards. The building itself is interesting, one of 5 libraries built with funds from Carnegie. But what's of real interest are the collections it houses. In 1946, Eugene and Ruth Lasartemay and Jessie and Dr. Marcella Ford began collecting the oral histories and artifacts that documented the activities of African Americans in and around Oakland, the Bay Area and California. After combining with other collections and various moves, the collection ultimately became the AAMLO in 1994. Read more of the history of the AAMLO collections on the OPL website.

Judge McCullum

During the tour, there were a ton of names from Oakland's history, some you doubtless recognize, and probably a few you don't.
  • Did you know Jack London was raised by ex-slave Jenny Prentiss? He later borrowed money from her to buy his first boat, and left money to her in his will.
  • That section of highway 24 named the Rumford Freeway? That's named after William Byron Rumford, the first African American elected to public office in Northern California. He also was one of the early fighters against automotive air pollution. Besides the freeway, there's also an Oakland post office named after him. Ironically, it's one of the post offices slated to be shut down.
  • Oakland's Youth Court? It's named for civil rights activist and superior court judge Donald McCullum.
  • mayor Lionel Wilson was the first African American mayor of Oakland.
There were lots more people of note, including Bob Maynard, George Scotlan, Elihu Harris, Ron Dellums, C.L. Dellums, Henry Gardner, Curt Flood (I ride past Curt Flood field on Coolidge), and more.

I have to admit the names and facts were kind of a blur, because we spent the first 30 minutes standing outside the museum. It was tiring to stand in one place for so long, and it made it harder to remember the names and associated facts because there wasn't a place to associate many of them with. But it was a still a good, informative tour, and worth checking out.

More pictures in my Oakland New Era, New Politics walking tour album:
Oakland New Era, New Politics walking tour

1 comment:

OakSnap said...

The good news is that you can go on the same tour again to refresh - for free!