African Americans in Times of War: The Story of We Also Serve

In honor of this year’s Black History Month theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” the African American Museum & Library at Oakland will feature events and community blog posts in February that tell the stories African Africans’ valiant and brave contributions to our country both at home and abroad in war time.

World War II brought profound changes to the African American community in Oakland and across the Bay Area. In the first four years of the war, the African American population of Oakland bloomed from 8,462 in 1940 to 21, 770 by 1944 to a considerable 47,562 residents by 1950.  Some families were beckoned to the Bay Area by government recruiters that scoured the South and Midwest looking for workers to fill the manpower shortage in war industries caused by the war. But most families moved here based on word of mouth from family members and Pullman Porters who touted the area’s plentiful jobs, good wages, and better opportunities for families seeking to escape the brutal social conditions of the American South. Most African Americans migrants came from four states – Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma – and some referred to the trains out West as ‘Liberty trains.’ Economic opportunities for African Americans expanded exponentially following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802 prohibiting racial discrimination in hiring in federal war industries. Roosevelt was

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African Americans in Times of War

Black History Month 2018 focuses on African Americans in Times of War. Join us for events every Saturday in February as we honor veterans of various wars.

                                                                                

This years’ Black History Month theme is African Americans in Times of War.  The African American Museum and Library at Oakland [AAMLO] is commemorating this every Saturday in the month of February with programs honoring our veterans.

Saturday February 3 “Black Warriors, The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II”

Saturday February 10 “Finding Our Place: The Oakland Black Veteran Experience”

Saturday February 17 “Col. Charles Young and the Buffalo Soldiers at the Presidio”

Saturday February 24 “Why We Fight”

African Americans have served our country with pride for centuries in the United States military.

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E.J. (Evangeline) Montgomery: Oakland African American artists' advocate

The African American Museum & Library at Oakland celebrates an arts champion.

Portrait of Evangeline J. Montgomery (1973)Oakland Post Photograph Collection, MS 169, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

E.J. (Evangeline) Montgomery, who had been active in the Los Angeles art networks in the 1950s and 1960s, moved to Oakland in 1965 and by 1967 had founded an African American artists' advocacy group called Art West Associated North (AWAN). Like other political organizations concerned with African American visibility and self-definition, the association protested the exclusion of African American artists from local museums and galleries. In a note published in the exhibition catalog "

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Calling All Immigrant Artists!

Apply Now! The Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program: Oakland offers immigrant artists the opportunity to focus on their creative practice, gain support and exposure for their work, while upholding their distinct cultural identities.

Photo of artistsThe Oakland Public Library is excited to be a partner in an exciting new program being brought to our city by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).  The Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program: Oakland offers immigrant artists the opportunity to focus on their creative practice, gain support and exposure for their work, while upholding their distinct cultural identities.

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NYFA has developed a method that has proved successful in

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Welcome to the new AAMLO!

AAMLO's new Interim Chief Curator, Susan Anderson, greets the community.

Portrait of boy and girl, Oliver Denny photographer, Sacramento,1867 Royal E. Towns papers 

I started my tenure as Interim Chief Curator at the African American Museum and Library on October 21. It’s been an eventful and productive couple of months. The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is re-dedicating itself to its mission – to preserve and make accessible the history of African Americans in the Bay Area and California. We want people to know that our doors are open. Our research collections are available for researchers of all types from high school students and local residents to worldwide academic scholars. Our museum space invites collaborative exhibits and stimulating programs. The wonderful staff here is knowledgeable and skilled at assisting researchers and partnering with the community. During

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The Jay Payton Show: Oakland’s Own Soul Train

The African American Museum & Library at Oakland is working to preserve Oakland's music heritage.

It was forty-five years ago when Jay Payton, a well-known Bay Area emcee and music promoter, launched his own music and dance variety, Soul Is (later named “The Jay Payton Show”) on Oakland’s KEMO-TV. The variety show was modeled in part on Don Cornelius’ Soul Train, which had premiered two years earlier and created a model for a youth-focused music and dance variety show that promoted African American performers on a national stage.

Soul Is featured many Bay Area musicians and dance groups that frequently performed at Jay Payton’s Top Star Awards, an annual music award show produced by Payton for Bay Area African American R&B musicians held at the Showcase, Bimbo's 365 Club, the Claremont Hotel, and other venues.          

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African American Firefighters In Oakland

Facing racism and discrimination African Americans have served the Oakland Fire Department with honor for nearly 100 years.

 

Royal Towns (center) and two Oakland firefighters standing outside of fire engine no. 22

In 1919 the city of Oakland began seeking and testing African Americans applicants to serve as firefighters for a segregated unit of the Oakland Fire Department. As a result of this test, on January 1, 1920, three African American men were hired.  The first firefighter worked at a pumping station at Lake Merritt until two additional men were hired. These men worked in the same firehouse on 8th and Alice as their white counterparts but on separate shifts.  In 1925, the first all-African American firehouse 22 Engine opened in west Oakland at 3230 Magnolia Street.

Royal Towns was one of the many African Americans to work at 22 Engine. He served as a firefighter for 17 years before being promoted to Lieutenant. He helped recruit African American firefighters and conducted classes to help them study for the fire-

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Evolutionary Blues: West Oakland’s Music Legacy

Staff at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland share stories and information about West Oakland's Music Legacy.

Guest post by African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) Staff Member, Sean Dickerson.  Stay tuned for more posts from AAMLO soon!

Jenkins Corner Building

Jenkins' corner building exterior, Harold Jenkins Photograph collection, MS 11, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

Singer Sugar Pie DeSanto, one of many musicians featured in filmmaker Cheryl Fabio’s documentary Evolutionary Blues, remembers learning to play classical piano as a child in the 1930’s Bay Area. DeSanto, whose mother was an African American concert pianist, grew up studying classical and jazz standards

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What now?! Necessary steps to take after the Equifax Breach

The Equifax data breach in September affected about 143 million Americans; chances are you are one of them. Two members of OPL's Digital Safety Team explain the necessary steps to take after major data breaches.

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Picture: Taylor White on Flickr

By Andrea Guzmán and Ajoke Kokodoko - Digital Safety Team @ OPL

Though the adage “the best defense is prevention” still rings to be true when it comes to digital safety and privacy, there are particular situations--such as data breaches--where consumers have little control over how their data is protected. Data breaches have become so commonplace that the Federal Trade Commision even made a video called “Data Breaches and You” (watch it here). Such cases call for damage

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Climate Change & Community: a science cafe series

How will climate change affect us here in the Bay Area? Learn more about resilience and adaptation strategies from local experts at this 3-part series.

How do climate change and severe weather events affect our lives in the Bay Area?

How do we become stronger, smarter, and more resilient?

The Oakland Public Library is one of fifty libraries nationwide to host a reading, viewing, and discussion program on climate change, called Pushing the Limits: PLACE (Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement). Come to the Golden Gate Branch to explore adaptation strategies and building resiliency at this "science-cafe-meets-book-club."

At each meeting, we will view a short video and learn from local organizations playing active roles in adapation and resilience. We will also discuss the book "Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution," by Peter Kalmus. Pick up a copy at Golden Gate.

To encourage the conversation and provide context, we are joined by Brian Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service serving the Bay Area. An expert in weather- and water-related impacts of our region, Brian partners with Emergency Managers in the area to help their communities

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