HISTORIC 7TH STREET"A group without an economic base of power in a 2005 America will experience the problems that plague Oakland's majority Black communities today. The Kinte Center urges Oakland's Blacks to establish a Black economic base of power at 55th Avenue east to the Oakland-San Leandro border; much like was on Historic 7th Street in West Oakland."
ESSAY ON BLACK OWNED COMMERCE AND COMMUNITY THAT WAS IN WEST OAKLAND
This is an essay about a West Oakland that was populated primarily by Blacks who migrated to West Oakland during World War II to work in the Military industries. Also this essay is dedicated to those early Black Oaklanders that established an economically self-contained community in West-Oakland and thus leave an example for today's Black Oaklanders.
The facts in this essay were taken from the book "West Oakland Oral History Interviews", in the Oakland Main Library's History Room. The interview from which most of the material for this essay was taken from was an interview with a Mr. Tom Nash. The interview was conducted in 1994. Mr. Nash describes West Oakland as follows and I quote:
According to the interview, Mr. Nash originally from Muskogee, Oklahoma. Being music enthusiasts and maybe a musician, upon arriving in West Oakland heard music coming from the Slim Jenkins Club. He visited the club was apparently rather impressed with Slim and the atmosphere and sophistication he found in the Slim Jenkins Club. Mr. Nash also described a close relationship between the noted, Raincoat and Slim Jenkins. There will be more on Raincoat later in this essay. I quote Mr. Nash:
Mr. Nash gave an account of a close relationship between "Raincoat" and Slim Jenkins and I quote:
So, what happened to this beautiful, economically self-contained community that was in West Oakland. Mr. Nash described how West Oakland fell victim to
City of Oakland Redevelopment with eminent domain and I quote:
Most of the Blacks that arrived and settled in West Oakland were renters. Many dreamed of owning property in the "At the time forbidden" East Oakland (There was a time when Blacks were essentially bared from residing or owning property in East Oakland). They eventually overcame the barriers that once kept them from becoming property owners in East Oakland and settled in East Oakland in force as property owners. We cannot dishonor these noble early Black Oaklanders and allow the Black presence in East Oakland to go the way of Historic 7th Street that was in West Oakland. The only way to ensure that this does not happen is for Blacks to establish a Black base of economic power in East Oakland
This is not to "Cry wolf" but we should note Mr. Nash testimony that City of Oakland Redevelopment with eminent domain destroyed Black commerce and community in West Oakland. This should bring Black Oaklanders to pause because East Oakland is currently under two ensuing City of Oakland Redevelopment Plans i.e., The Coliseum Redevelopment Plan and the Central City East Redevelopment Plan.
Toady's Black Oaklanders should not allow the same thing to happen to Black communities in East Oakland. It is my understanding that East Oakland's Black Merchant group or for that matter, East Oakland's small locally owned business in general are not at not at the table to influence the design for commerce in East Oakland in a post-redevelopment environment in East Oakland i.e., The CityEast Community at 55th Avenue east to the Oakland-San Lenadro border.
For your viewing pleasure please click on Figure 1 - A collage of business that were in the Historic 7 th Street Commercial District in West Oakland and click on Figure 2 - A picture of the Old West Oakland Train station on Wood Street where most of the early Black Oaklanders arrived who built the Historic 7 th Street-West Oakland Commercial District.
The Kinte Center's Community Building Initiative presented here is designed to build this Black economic base of power in East Oakland at 55th Avenue east to the Oakland-San Leandro border.
They did it in West Oakland, so can we in the proposed "CityEast" community at 55th Avenue east to the Oakland-San Leandro Border.