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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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

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Strengths and Accomplishments

What has OPL accomplished in the last six months?

Here at the library, we are engaged in a strategic planning process and through that process, we have developed a new mission statement, a vision statement, core values, and three-year goals.  

You've probably seen "explore, connect, and grow" on some of our materials recently, including our last annual report and all of our summer program materials.  That's because our mission is, "Your Oakland Public Library empowers all people to explore, connect, and grow," and we take it quite seriously.

Hopefully our core values aren't a surprise to you, as we aspire to infuse them into everything we do.

And what about those three year goals?  Well, in no particular order, we are working to:

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    Oakland Responds: Charlottesville

    From Oakland to Charlottesville, libraries are united in opposition to hate and violence. Here we share resources so we can all learn the mistakes of history and shape a more equitable future.

    From Oakland to Charlottesville, we are united in our opposition to hate and violence. We are proud to echo the American Library Association’s clear statement affirming that, “We stand in solidarity with the people of Virginia as well as anyone who protests hate and fights for equity, diversity and inclusion.”

    Racism, bigotry and white nationalism are not new phenomena. Brazen marches through the streets of Charlottesville and Berkeley have shown the face of a movement long-simmering and ever-threatening to Black, Jewish, Muslim, immigrant and queer communities -- and to our democracy. 

    As long as these movements have existed, so have movements promoting justice and equity. Our libraries foster education so that we

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    The Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017

    On Monday, August 21, 2017, an eclipse of the Sun will be visible throughout North America. It will be the first eclipse to cross the United States in the “Internet Age” (the last country-wide eclipse was in 1918).

    The Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017 is coming up quickly! This is the first eclipse to be visible in the continental U.S. in almost 40 years. More details here: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/

    In such an eclipse, the Moon gets in front of the Sun and blocks some or all of its light. In Oakland, we will have a partial eclipse, with 76% of the Sun’s area covered by the Moon. For us, the eclipse will begin at 9:01 am, and reach maximum at 10:15 am. By 11:37 am, the Sun will be uncovered once more.  Such a partial eclipse -- where some of the Sun’s bright surface is showing -- is not safe to look at with the naked eye (or sunglasses). You must use special eclipse-viewing glasses or project an image of the Sun! 

    Your Oakland Public Library is a distribution site for safe viewing glasses through a partnership with

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    fREADom at Oakland Public Library

    Everyone is welcome at your Oakland Public Library! Read about various ways the library can support activists and activism and connect you to excellent resources and books.

    Your public library is a place where, free of cost, you can learn about current issues from credible sources, explore history, borrow high quality books, and take advantage of community resources and spaces.  Everyone is welcome. Inclusiveness is a core value of public libraries. Oakland Public Library will be tabling at the second Oakland Peace Center Activism and Advocacy Resource Fair this coming Sunday, 2/12, from 11 to 4 PM, to promote how the library can help you during these tumultuous times. You can sign up for a library card and pick up various resources and reading lists as well as limited edition “fREADom” buttons!

    Reading is among our greatest freedoms; OPL librarians have curated these timely book lists. Click through to learn more about:

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    Post-Election Know Your Rights Trainings

    As we grapple with the uncertain future and a surge in bias-related crimes, knowledge is power. Join the ACLU for Know Your Rights workshops at your library.

    Photo of mural with text that says Know Your RightsThis February, Oakland Public Library is offering a series of Know Your Rights workshops, in partnership with the ACLU of Northern California.

     

    As our communities grapple with the uncertain future of immigration reform, the threat of a Muslim registry, a surge in bias-related crimes, and a groundswell of activism by citizens concerned about justice, safety and equity, we have a great deal to learn and do -- together.

     

    Beginning with three workshops -- for immigrants, transgender residents and citizens exercising free speech through protest – Oakland Library and the ACLU will provide information to help you protect yourself, your family and your community.

     

    Over the coming year, the library will continue to offer programs and resources that empower our

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