Oakland Moms4housing 696x522
(Last Updated On: February 19, 2020)

– The City Council is having a celebration for Black History Month today, that is a combination of at once an expression of what long-time ers have done, but also a statement that ignores blacks in tech in .

Moreover, it makes it seem like the City of has an issue with black folks who don’t fit a racial stereotype, like me. Just to make it personal since I’m sadly used to the City of Oakland’s treatment of black men who dare step outside “the zone”, as I put it. Consider that I, alone, formed what will be ’s only bid to host a Super Bowl Game, and out of 11 cities, pushed to be one of three finalist cities, the others being Jacksonville and Miami, for the right to host the 2005 Super Bowl. And I did it in the face of a City of that was bent on treating me like shit. A major reason why the NFL has been a friend to me to this day: the league was witness, from NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to then NFL Executive Vice President Of Football Operations and now NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. A big reason why I started ZENNIE62MEDIA was because of the way treated me. Hell, I carry with me nationwide, and arguably have given more visibility to my city whenever I break news via my pioneer Zennie62 YouTube Channel and my News Now blog. But, I digress. That’s something for in the future, let’s celebrate the people, tonight.

Here’s the agenda item, below.

4.1 Subject: Celebrating Black History And Heritage Month
From: Councilmember McElhaney, Councilmember Taylor, And Vice Mayor Reid Recommendation: Adopt A Resolution In Celebration Of Black History Month Honoring Courageous Black Individuals And Organizations, Who Through Their Innovative, Groundbreaking Work, Have Promoted Positive Change And Uplift For The City Of .

Ok, I Have To Make A Statement Here

And, here’s the City Council Agenda descriptions of the people and organizations that are to be celebrated, and congratulations to them. But I have to add that I don’t think what did is something to be celebrated as “black history” at all – but fits the City Of ’s sad view of black folks, collectively. What did represents a failure of a California government system ran by Democrats who should know better. We had California Redevelopment Law to avoid the problem until Governor Brown wrongly terminated it, and still have tax increment financing the City of could use to fix the problem, yet no major bombshell emergency measure has been inacted, still, to this day. To celebrate in that context send a powerful message that the only way blacks will be seen by other black folks in the City of as worthy of note is to be pushed to do something that falls in the area of economic moral turpitude. Wow.

Forget people like Stephen DeBerry, the Founder and Managing Partner at Bronze Investments, who was a founding partner at Kapor Capital in . Forget the fact that venture funding for tech companies over the past three years totaled just under $500 million. Why doesn’t the City of ask who’s black that’s part of that? People like Lindsay Lee, Managing Member of Oakland-based venture firm Authentic Ventures? And Authentic Ventures is really in Oakland on Skyline Blvd.. Or how about Kesha Cash, the General Partner at Impact America Fund? And also, yes, in ! And we have to mention Erik Moore, the venture capitalist who’s firm BASE is in Berkeley, but he lives in .

I could go on, but the point is, the City of has a screwed-up view of black folks, and it needs to change. Celebrate blacks in tech.

Oh, here’s the City of ’s presentation for tonight:

The individuals and institutions we honor today have made significant contributions to the City of , through their dedication to the celebration, expansion, and preservation of the unique contributions of African Americans and these historic contributions are woven into the fabric of American history in the City of , the United States and the world; and

WHEREAS, District 1 is honoring Marcus Books, the historic black-owned bookstore on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in North founded by Dr. Julian Richardson and Dr. Raye Richardson that established its location within District 1 in 1970s to serve as a sanctuary and a resource center for the Black community to gain knowledge to feel confident in fighting back against racial inequality. During the Black Power and Black Arts movement, Marcus Books was an important meeting place and lecture room for the Black Panthers. Over the years, Marcus Books has hosted such legends as Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Barry White, B.B. King, and Pattie LaBelle. Marcus Books has also been the chosen meeting place for the Black Firefighters Association, the Association of .Black Police, the Black Nurses Association, and many more organizations. Daughters Blanche and Karen
Richardson now operate the pillar that continues to thrive and keep up with community engaging traditions by hosting events, supporting local artists and Black authors; and

WHEREAS, District 2 is proud to honor long-term resident James Vann. James is the co-founder of the Tenants Union (OTU) who continues to monitor the needs of renters through local and state legislation and is the go-to expert in the City of on those issues. He has also consistently advocated for the local control of our resources, including but not limited to pushing hard for the public use of public land. In addition to advocating for tenants who are 60% of our city, he spearheaded the Coalition of

Advocates for Lake Merritt (CALM) which developed Measure DD, the improvements for the “Jewel of ” Lake Merritt, and watchdogs its implementation as the father of the Green Pedestrian Bridge. When the affordable housing crisis was brewing, he had already been fighting for housing as a human right for decades. He tirelessly responds to individual tenants in distress while working to build coalitions in and Alameda County that bring residents together to fight for a real social safety net. He has proven time and again that he has never been afraid to speak for unpopular causes if they benefit the average er. As the homelessness crisis grew in , James helped to found another organization, the Homeless Advocacy Working Group (HAWG), that currently advocates for policies that offer real alternatives to the growing number of encampments and dignity to those forced to live on our streets. He is a hero to many and a gracious advocate to all; and

positive social change through the arts and is contributing closer to home by opening ’s very fist LGBTQIA Arts Center and Gallery in March 2020; and

WHEREAS, District 4 is honoring: Bertram Harris who has worked in for the past decade as a Designer and Building Contractor, designing and building Accessory Dwelling Units. Bertram currently works with Redesign2Renovate, a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Mr. Harris was born and raised in Indiana before moving to the Bay Area and finally settling in . He realized the potential for unused spaces in yards to become a creative solution to create more housing by building Accessory Dwelling Units. Bertram has designed, built, and renovated Accessory Dwelling Units in
, Alameda, Berkeley, Foster City, Harbor Bay, and Hillsborough. His work has taken him all over the Bay Area, and he has immersed himself in many Bay Area communities. In addition to designing Accessory Dwelling Units, Mr. Harris has advised clients on how to overcome funding challenges to complete a new Accessory Dwelling Unit, creating more housing options for community members based in ; and

WHEREAS, District 5 is honoring: The Konte Family – Keba, Rachel and family members. Owners of Red Bay Coffee and two other businesses. Red Bay Coffee Roasters was founded in 2014 by Keba Konte, a renowned artist and successful food entrepreneur with deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area specialty
coffee and hospitality industry. Red Bay Coffee seeks to create unity by hiring and serving people of all backgrounds, striving to be diverse and inclusive of those who have traditionally been left out of the specialty coffee industry, especially people of color, the formerly incarcerated, women and people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, District 6 is proud to honor the life and work of Arthur “Art” Bolden Shanks II, founder of the Cypress Mandela Training Center. He was raised in , California along with his four brothers and two sisters. Art had three children with his high school sweetheart and one child with his current wife, Linda Shanks, and two grandchildren. Art was the recipient of numerous awards and was recognized for his work in the community. He was featured in many news broadcasts and in many written publications. He was not a believer of mediocrity or status quo and he confronted challenges with courage, determination, perseverance and consistency. While he had a heart of compassion, he was not afraid to speak his mind and at times it was his way or the highway. Learning and education were also ingrained in his life passion as the Executive Director of the Cypress Mandela Training Center for 26 plus years. The
Cypress Mandela , Training Center is a pre-apprenticeship program for the trades that places the underprivileged and underrepresented into meaningful jobs so that they may positively maneuver in society. As the founder of Cypress Mandela, it was his duty to ensure that the students were given the best opportunities he and his staff could provide. He believed that life skills were equally as important as the trades training. Art passed away on December 29, 2019. He will be missed but his legacy will not be forgotten; and

WHEREAS, the At Large Office recognizes that on November 18, 2019, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment led a statewide week of housing action which began with nonviolent civil disobedience that included Black mothers, known as , with the steering committee of Misty Cross, Carroll Fife, Sameerah Karim, Tolani King, Merika Regan, Sharena Thomas, and Dominique Walker, who moved their children into a vacant house on Magnolia Street in West to highlight the trauma of homelessness and housing insecurity, the inequities of housing access, and the human cost of displacement caused by real estate speculation; and to make real that housing is a human right; and

WHEREAS, Mayor Libby Schaafs Office honors Donald Oliver. He was an principal who founded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Festival in 1978. In creating the Oratorical Festival, Mr. Oliver provided an opportunity for students to showcase their intellect, learn in a unique environment, and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Oliver understood that public oratory required students to think quickly and use many different aspects of their education. Mr. Oliver also believed that public speaking allowed his students to demonstrate their intellectual skills in a more personalized manner than in the classroom. Donald Oliver passed away in 2010, yet as the Oratorical Festival moves into its 42nd year, his great impact on the City of endures. Continuing Mr. Oliver’s work, Awele Makebe has been the of director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Festival for the last 5 years. Ms. Awele is the Drama Director at Skyline High School has sought to honor the principles of Dr. King by encouraging her students to explore social justice issues and the role of ordinary people in those issues; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED: That the City of herby honors and commends the following
individuals and organizations in recognition of Black History and Heritage Month 2020:
Marcus Books
James Vann
Kin Folkz
Bertram Harris
The Konte Family
Arthur Shanks
llle Omede School
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Donald Oliver
and be it;

Ok, fine. And again, congratulations to all of them. But I have to ask this question: why do elected officials not seek to find blacks in who aren’t fitting a common racial stereotype? Time to change.

Stay tuned.


By Zennie Abraham

Zennie62Media, Inc. CEO Zenophon Abraham AKA Zennie62 YouTube Zennie62.com, Oakland News Now, OaklandNewsNow.com Zennie62 YouTube Partner, Oakland California blogger / vlogger hire @Zennie62Media, Inc to tell your story.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!