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 the hours we’re open, when

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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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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.  

Update 2: Town Halls Scheduled

The Oakland Public Library has engaged The Hawkins Company, an Executive Search firm, to

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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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