Change for the African American Museum & Library at Oakland (AAMLO)

We're excited about the changes we have in store for AAMLO, but we need your help to develop an amazing 21st Century museum.

If you'd like to give feedback about the changes at AAMLO, you can go directly to the feedback form here.   

The originating agreement between the City of Oakland and the Northern California Center for Afro-American History and Life that created AAMLO can be found here.  

UPDATE:  An Interim Chief Curator has been hired.  You can read the press release here.  

History of AAMLO

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation, and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations.

In 1946, Eugene and Ruth Lasartemay and Jesse 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. On July 2, 1965, this effort officially became the East Bay Negro Historical Society (EBNHS). As their efforts continued, the founders needed to find a larger space for the growing collection. In 1970, the EBNHS moved to a storefront located at 3651 Grove Street.

In 1976, it moved to 4519 Grove, where it operated a museum and library. In 1982, the EBNHS was invited into the Golden Gate Branch of the Oakland Public Library, making it the first Oakland city library with a predominantly African American focused collection. The assistance of Mayor Lionel Wilson, Assemblyman Elihu Harris, and others helped the organization establish a solid foundation in their new home. Following the appointment of Dr. Lawrence Crouchett as its executive director in 1988, the organization changed its name to the Northern California Center for Afro-American History & Life (NCCAAHL).

In 1994, the City of Oakland and the NCCAAHL merged to create the African American Museum & Library at Oakland (AAMLO). This unique public/private partnership entered a historic juncture with the opening of AAMLO in February 2002. Located at 659 14th Street, AAMLO is housed in the former Charles S. Greene library, an historic 1902 Carnegie building.

 

Future of AAMLO

The Oakland Public Library (OPL) is dedicated to empowering all people to “explore, connect, and grow,” as proclaimed by our mission statement.  We are committed to reaching out to communities in Oakland that have been underserved.  We are dedicated to being a space for hosting and facilitating conversations around the issues that matter to our city, and to honoring people and their needs first.

AAMLO, a specialized unit of the OPL, will be moving in a similar direction.  AAMLO’s unique non-circulating reference library, its permanent museum gallery and space for changing exhibits, as well as its archives with over 160 collections documenting the history of African Americans in Northern California and the Bay Area, all are a rich resource for the community.  OPL is very much committed to new opportunities for AAMLO with a focus on engaging Oakland’s African American community in new and more accessible ways.

  

Visitor-centered. Civic-minded. Inclusive. Diverse. Welcoming. Responsive. Unifying. Participatory.

AAMLO holds a vital space, physically and intellectually, in the Black Arts Movement and Business District, occupying a historic building at 14th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.   

As such, we have a vision for transforming AAMLO into a vibrant 21st Century museum.  We will celebrate the significance of contributions by Black leaders, support the movement to bring diverse people together, inspire and be inspired by the legacies and contemporary manifestations of Black-owned businesses, and celebrate the arts rooted in the Black cultural experience.

We want AAMLO to serve as a true archive and museum for the community, actively engaging community members and organizations.

  

What does that look like?

AAMLO can and should:

  • be deeply connected with the community;
  • employ strong museum leadership serving as a change agent;
  • maintain an attitude of inclusion;
  • help to create a respectful environment for public discourse;
  • listen to the needs of the community;
  • explore innovative partnerships with schools;
  • assess museum practices to ensure representation of all members of the African American community;
  • become a thoughtful institution in Oakland and affect change in the community;
  • and be willing to ask questions, try new things, and learn along the way.

  

Hiring a new curator.

We are at the beginning stages of developing a plan for recruitment for a new Chief Curator for AAMLO. 

It will be a national recruitment by a professional search firm and we will seek a Curator in African American studies and history that has backgrounds in museum administration and collection management. 

Our plan is to involve the community in the search process and we welcome your feedback in how that might look to you. 

 

We need your help!

We look forward to working with community members to make these plans a reality.  We hope that you will help us re-envision a future for AAMLO that is visitor-centered, civic-minded, inclusive, diverse, welcoming, responsive, unifying, and participatory.  

We will continue to solicit community feedback about the future of AAMLO.  Please share your vision with us.  What is your dream for AAMLO?  How do you see AAMLO fitting into the community?

If you’d like to share your ideas, please fill out the feedback form available at www.oaklandlibrary.org/AAMLOFeedback.

Stay tuned for future opportunities for community discussion, feedback solicitation, and ongoing conversation.

We thank you for your engagement in this process!

Comments

Great! This resource should

Great! This resource should be much much more accessible to the public than it has been. I hope for: --more evening/weekend hours. --Fostering internships and deep student research, teaching folks how to handle valuable archival materials and artifacts. --adding to the collection with a good collecting strategy --much more interaction with our community --exhibits which use the collection interpretively and help us understand our history and our city --working closely with community, establish an effective Friends group to help raise support, volunteers, and funds to support AAMLO.

Visited the library/Museum 7

Visited the library/Museum 7 or 8 years ago while visiting my son. I'm a retired librarian from Chicago. I loved the space. I'd encourage more of an education, even curriculum component, more than "exploring a creative relationship with schools." A curriculum staff, interns, high school thru academic, to develop, research curricula with local historians, teachers, elders, media, students, and community. I wonder if local millennia are fully informed of rich area history. Surely would bring research, education funding as well as volunteers as docents.

Please add me to your email

Please add me to your email list about any upcoming events. Also, how does one get tickets for admission?

Thanks,
Cary

More publicity. I had never

More publicity.
I had never even heard of it before seeing it on the Oakland Public Library website.

We have missed a lot because

We have missed a lot because the leadership at AAMLO wasn't trusted by a generation of Oaklanders who have been our community's history keepers. I personally look forward to the Museum and Library filling the void that we feel when it comes to identifying a place where our local history can be preserved and respected.

Grateful that you are now thinking about filling that void.

Congratulations on selecting

Congratulations on selecting an Interim Curator. I look forward to seeing the changes including more community engagement, collaboration with schools, art organizations and artists and explorations of historic and contemporary themes involving and of interest to community tomembers.

Hello Cary and thank you for

Hello Cary and thank you for your reply. Please email me your information at mfrazier@oaklandlibrary.org. I will be more than happy to add you to our AAMLO email list. Also please indicate if you would like to be added to our mailing list as well.
Thank you,
Marco Frazier
Library Assistant
African American Museum and Library at Oakland
510-637-0200

Greetings Christina this is

Greetings Christina this is Marco Frazier, Library Assistant at AAMLO. I will be more than happy to send you literature about our museum as well as put you on our mailing list to receive information on future events. Please email me at mfrazier@oaklandlibrary.org with your information.

Thank you,

Marco Frazier
Library Assistant
African American Museum and Library at Oakland
510-637-0200

I have been a part of the

I have been a part of the Oakland Community for over 35 years and an African American Employee of the City of Oakland for 20. This Museum could and should be so much more. My family is a part of the rich African American Oakland fabric that migrated from Louisiana years ago. The stewardship of this museum should be in the hands of the public. There should be a AA Advisory Board that oversees the activities and there should be an automatic way to sign up to receive information or to be put on the newsletter. I view the museum/library as the Chabot Science Center and should be treated as such (yes, I know its not part of the city). Nonetheless, I want to make sure that we maintain the focus of the creation of the museum and expand it as an educational center to open it up to the public.

I don't want this to become just another library.....

Thank you for the opportunity

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the future of AAMLO.

AAMLO is a unique and valuable institution; its future should reflect sustaining the vision of its founders who, rightfully so, held that the history of African Americans in Oakland was pivotally tied to the history of Oakland and the progressive development of Oakland as the home of one of the most important African American Communities in the United States.

As "we" contemplate the future of AAMLO let us be created and innovative in expanding the value of the institution, while holding on to its original mission. The history of African Americans continues to evolve and AAMLO should be at the center of that evolution.

The Oakland Community as it continues to evolve would do well to collectively learn about the contribution of African Americans to our fine City, and all people who support that theme should be welcomed to contribute to the future of the institution.

The current site at 14th and Martin Luther King is ideally suited. Let's all work to build pathways from our schools, businesses, communities and casual visitors to the City to this institution.

Let us continue to bring in new ideas, interesting speakers and programs and stay connected to the pulse of the community.

What do you think?

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.