Making a Joyful Noise: Community and Belonging in Lake Merritt with AAMLO

Release Date

Fri, 09/28/2018

Oakland, CA – The African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) invites all East Bay residents to join in a day-long celebration of programs, art and social commentary under the title, Making a Joyful Noise: Community and Belonging in Lake Merritt.

In January, AAMLO was awarded one of five grants from the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) for a place keeping project concerning Lake Merritt and social change. The work culminates this Saturday, September 29 at two locations – the OMCA amphitheater and AAMLO.

The day’s festivities commence at OMCA (1000 Oak St.) with the opening of the Making a Joyful Noise exhibit from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. The exhibit provides a view of the abiding relationship African Americans have had with the Lake and its surroundings since the 19th century. In addition, a drum circle – which is still popular at the Lake – will take place during the showing.

At 1 p.m., AAMLO Interim Chief Curator Susan D. Anderson will moderate a panel discussion about what it means to “belong” at the Lake along with Rev. Anthony Jenkins (Sr. Pastor, Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church), Mary Butler (78,  daughter of the first African American elected to the Oakland City Council), Electra Kimble Price (86, retired educator), and Gayle “Asali” Dickson (exhibit artist, former artists for the Black Panther Party newspaper).

At 3 p.m., AAMLO (659 14th St.) will show “Take This Hammer” – a 1963 KQED documentary following James Baldwin as he’s driven around in San Francisco to meet members of the local African American community. Baldwin asserts that “urban renewal is Negro removal” and shares frank exchanges with local people on the street and community leaders in the Bayview and Western Addition neighborhoods.

In the face of white-against-black conflicts, noise complaints aimed at church choirs and drumming circles, and calls to the police, the longstanding history of black people in Lake Merritt can provide a powerful counterbalance to treatment that implies they don’t belong.