The African American Museum & Library at Oakland continually acquires new material, expanding special collections which document the history and cultural experiences of African Americans in Northern California and the Bay Area.
Recent book arrivals are always available for easy browsing and enjoyment in the reference room. While AAMLO copies cannot be checked out, staff is always happy to help locate circulating copies at Oakland Public Library branches. Some recent and noteable titles include:
Out of Oakland
In Out of Oakland, Sean L. Malloy explores the evolving internationalism of the Black Panther Party (BPP); the continuing exile of former members, including Assata Shakur, in Cuba is testament to the lasting nature of the international bonds that were forged during the party's heyday. Malloy traces the shifting intersections between the black freedom struggle in the United States, Third World anticolonialism, and the Cold War. By the early 1970s, the Panthers had chapters across the United States as well as an international section headquartered in Algeria and support groups and emulators as far afield as England, India, New Zealand, Israel, and Sweden. The international section served as an official embassy for the BPP and a beacon for American revolutionaries abroad, attracting figures ranging from Black Power skyjackers to fugitive LSD guru Timothy Leary. Engaging directly with the expanding Cold War, BPP representatives cultivated alliances with the governments of Cuba, North Korea, China, North Vietnam, and the People’s Republic of the Congo as well as European and Japanese militant groups and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. In an epilogue, Malloy directly links the legacy of the BPP to contemporary questions raised by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Picture Man: From the Collection of Bay Area Photographer E.F. Joseph 1927-1979
From 1927 until his death in 1979, E.F. Joseph documented the daily lives of African Americans in the Bay Area. His images were printed in the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender but not widely published in his home community. A graduate of the American School of Photography in Illinois, Joseph photographed the likes of such celebrities and activists as Josephine Baker, Mahalia Jackson, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Thurgood Marshall.
In 1980, Careth Reid purchased Joseph's collection of negatives and personal papers, and nearly four decades later, a labor of love comes to fruition with the publication of The Picture Man. Reid, a lifelong educator and champion of community service in the Bay Area, partnered with longtime friend Ruth Beckford, a dancer, teacher, choreographer, actor, and author. Reid, a native of Berkeley, was the recipient of San Francisco State University's Alumna of the Year Award in 1990 and is also a member of the university's Hall of Fame. Beckford, a lifelong resident of Oakland, is featured in a downtown mural of the community's artists and was also celebrated as an Outstanding Alumni of Oakland Technical High School in 2015.
Sign My Name to Freedom
Betty Reid Soskin’s lectures at Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter Museum have garnered her national attention, including a visit with President Obama in 2015. Soskin’s talks reflect on the oft-overlooked African-American wartime experience and how opportunities for black women have changed throughout her lifetime. Now the 96-year-old National Park Service ranger has written a memoir, “Sign My Name to Freedom,” documenting her history as a political activist, musician and entrepreneur. A longtime resident of the East Bay, Soskin illustrates how the Bay Area laid the groundwork for the national civil rights movement.
Self-portrait by Morrie Turner, circa 1980s, Morrie Turner Papers, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.
San Francisco Blues Festival flyer, 1978, Mark Hummel Papers, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.
AAMLO also actively acquires primary source materials of a rare or unique nature. Below is a selection of archival collections that have been recently acquired or additions to existing collections.
Morrie Turner Papers
An addition of 44 original cartoon sketches made by Morrie Turner during his visit to Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California in the 1980s. The sketches were given by Turner to two counselors at the school, Josie and Bernie LeRoy, who graciously donated them to the museum.
Paula Beal Papers
The papers of Oakland housing and community activist Paula Beal who fought tirelessly for strengthening protections for Oakland renters, especially low-income renters and senior citizens, as a advocate with the grassroots community group Causa Justa, Just Cause.
Mark Hummel Papers
Photographs, flyers, newspaper clippings, and periodicals documenting the San Francisco Blues music scene throughout the 1970-1980s and the career of notable blues musician Mark Hummel.
Bryant Family Papers
Two childhood dolls and original artwork by notable Oakland artists Margo Humphrey, Nell Irvin Painter, and Ted Pontiflet donated by Jackie Bryant Smith.
Berresford Augustus Bingham Papers
Proclamations, newspaper clippings, and funeral program documenting the life and career of Berresford Augustus Bingham who served in the United States Navy, Alameda Unified School Board of Education and a former president of the California Black School Board Association.