Tag Archives: martin luther king jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ok, Oaklanders… I asked last week what dreams you had for our city and only one person responded.  And he kinda has to because we share a bed!

I have to say I was a bit disappointed. But hey, I’ve been busy too, so I understand that most folks are swamped once January rolls around… putting away the holiday decor, returning those god-awful sweaters your aunt bought you, digging through the backlog at work, and working off those chocolate-candy-booze-infused extra pounds.

But in all seriousness, the questions I posed in my last post were not rhetorical.  I really want to know. And in a certain sense, I believe it’s really important to form, verbalize, and actually announce to the world, our dreams/hopes/visions for the future.  Because a dream undeclared will likely remain just that… a dream.  But one voiced aloud, for one’s self and others to hear, ponder on, and process… is far more likely to be manifest into reality.

This is why Martin Luther King, Jr. announced his “dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of hundreds of thousands (and millions more via television)… to effect real change.  Nearly five decades later, with enormous progress made, we still find inspiration in his words.

So tell me… what’s your vision for our city?  What would you like to see change?  And how will you help achieve that reality?

As a kickstart to this little exercise, I thought I’d mention that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is this Monday, January 17th.  In addition to recognizing and honoring the incredible achievements of the civil rights leader, the day has also been set aside as a National Day of Service.

What is the MLK Day of Service?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’

Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.

The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. (from MLKDay.gov)

There are lots of ways that each of us, individually, can contribute to make Oakland a better place for all of us, collectively, to live. OaklandSeen has a nice recap of some local service opportunities in their recent post Give Back / Pay Forward by Anna Edmondson.

  • One that I’m particularly inspired by is the Habitat Restoration project at Martin Luther King Jr. ShorelineApropos, right?! Volunteers will help continue the beautification and restoration of this tidal marsh & shoreline habitat by planting native shrubs, weeding invasives, and removing debris.  Workday is Saturday, January 15th from 10am – 1pm. (map here)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline

I paid a recent visit to this park, my first time, and was really surprised.  I hadn’t even known of its existence as it’s located in a semi-industrial area near the Oakland Airport.  Similar to Cesar Chavez State Park near the Berkeley marina, the area was previously an old landfill (aka dump!), but since has been restored to its natural environment, comprising over 71 acres of tidal and seasonal wetlands.  Native plants have recolonized and many species of migrating and non-migrating birds have reestablished themselves.

Part of the larger 500 mile long San Francisco Bay Trail, there are miles of short walking/biking trails along the waterfront and through the marshes with several bridges and a large observation tower.  It’s a great spot for bird-lovers, but also for picnicking, fishing, hiking, and biking. Check it out…

east bay parks, east bay hiking trails, east bay wetland restoration
MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, east bay birdwatching spots
wetland observation tower, observation platform, shoreline observation platform
wildlife at MLK regional shoreline park
marsh birds, east bay bird watching
East Bay Shoreline Park, East Bay Wetlands Restoration, Oakland Parks
Walking Trail at MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline, bridge across san leandro creek
oakland bird watching spots, east bay bird watching spots
great egret, east bay marsh birds
shoreline trails, east bay shoreline trail
East Bay Wetland Restoration, Martin Luther King Regional Shoreline

Diversity is the one thing we all have in common.

Filling the ground floor windows of the California Hotel, these repeating posters – featuring two of the world’s great civil rights leaders, the iconic “power salute” of the 1968 Summer Olympics, and the promotion of diversity as strength – create a powerful mural running the block of San Pablo Avenue.

mural of civil rights posters, celebrate diversity

posters ground floor hotel california, civil rights posters san pablo

california hotel, san pablo ave, diversity posters

black power, 1968 olympics, martin luther king jr.

West Oakland Roots…

Wandering around my home stretch of West Oakland, I am always amazed how, after more than 10 years, I can still find things I’ve never seen before.  Just this past weekend I came across a new cafe, new art installation, new community garden plot, and more. All within a couple blocks of the BART station I’ve been to hundreds of times.  This is what I love about Oakland. And West Oakland in particular, with its vast assortment of abandoned manufacturing sites and empty lots, seems ripe for this kind of discovery.

I have to be honest and tell you I was on a bit of a mission when I came across these things, so it wasn’t completely by chance.

I went to the Oakland Indie Awards Nominee Mixer last week.  Do you guys know about the Indie Awards? An annual event hosted by the California One Foundation in partnership with the East Bay Express, to promote and highlight local artists and businesses doing amazing things in Oakland.  You have to be nominated by a community member, but after that, it’s strictly a juried process and finalists in a number of categories are chosen by a panel of judges after a series of interviews.  The awards party is on Friday, May 14th and should prove to be a huge event with local food & drink vendors, live music, DJs, and more. (tickets here)

But back to the mixer… last week was an opportunity to rub elbows with other nominees and even meet the judges and pitch your business or art a bit. I talked with a bunch of talented & creative peeps, one of whom was Keba Konte – artist, business owner, and self-proclaimed “waffle curator.” The owner of Guerilla Cafe in Berkeley as well as one of the founders of Kijiji Grows (featured in Oakland Youth Center post), he recently worked in conjunction with Mo’ Better Food and numerous other organizations in the establishment of Mo Better Food’s East Bay Farm/Garden one block from the West Oakland Bart Station. The garden workday took place on January 18th in honor of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, and Keba organized a community installed art piece entitled “The Beautification Art Project,” directing volunteers to tie thousands of colorful ribbons onto a chain-link fence to create a portrait of the great civil rights leader. Fantastic.

keba konte, Martin Luther King art installation, community art west oakland BART

martin luther king art installation, beautification art project by keba konte

Apparently Kijiji Grows set up an aquaculture garden on site, but I didn’t see that during my visit…

keba konte, west oakland bart community garden, mo' better food garden

East Bay Urban Gardeners (EBUG) assisted volunteers in constructing numerous raised planter beds. Here are a couple…

mo' better food, west oakland garden, kijiji grows

lady bug, west oakland community garden, garden west oakland BART

Folks from Urban Releaf (formerly Oakland Releaf) planted numerous trees on the site, and it looks like this formerly abandoned lot is well on its way to becoming a beautiful green zone for food production and recreation. Way to go Mo’ Better Food!

“Beautiful Struggle” ~ Oakland High School

So this morning’s excursion proved to be a perfect little life lesson in patience, flexibility, and serendipity. I was on my way to a particular mural that I knew I wanted to post today. I had it all planned out (I like to plan). It fit perfectly into my mural themed week and is one of my favorites in Oakland for it’s unique simplicity, and just happened to be on my way to my girlfriend’s’ house where I was headed anyway to pick up cake pans for a birthday cake to be baked this weekend.

However, my plan was completely thwarted by unanticipated road construction directly in front of the mural… police officers directing traffic, orange cones and plastic fencing cordoning off lanes, a giant yellow construction thingie (backhoe? bulldozer?) in the middle of the road, and basically no way to get the shot I had wanted.

I was frustrated. I ended up getting lost on my way to my friend’s house, despite having been there hundreds of times over the years… I was driving in circles not knowing how to get where I wanted to go… even more frustrating. As I felt my agitation rising I realized I needed to talk myself down.

“Breathe… It’s going to be ok. There’s plenty of art around… no need to be set on the one you had pre-picked… breathe.” And just like that, I turned a corner and saw the old familiar line of tall slender palm trees running down 9th Avenue and knew exactly where I was.

I picked up my cake pans and then drove right past this gorgeous set of murals produced by the students at Oakland High School. It’s really like a dozen murals all rolled into one, but I’ll feature the centerpiece today (Beautiful Struggle), and we’ll get to the others in future posts.

Beautiful Struggle 1

Beautiful Struggle 2

Beautiful Struggle 3

Beautiful Struggle 4

The mural was produced by the Visual Arts Academy Magnet Program (VAAMP) at Oakland High, and focuses on inspirational minority leaders, as only 2% of students at the school are white. (Wikipedia, see Oakland High School). The phrase “beautiful struggle” comes from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam”…

“We must move past indecision to action. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.”

The center figure of the mural is Ms. Broussard, “one of the greatest art teacher(s) [to] set foot in OHS.” Other figures include Malcom X, Muhammad Ali, Frida Kahlo, Che Guevara, and Bob Marley. Unfortunately my lack of knowledge prevents me from knowing who the man is on the far left… if anyone knows, please send me a comment. Thanks!