Black History Month

Early Black migrants to Alameda establish community

Samuel G. Kimbrough fled Mississippi with his wife Mary and their children in 1915, fearing violence from the Ku Klux Klan. The family moved in with relatives in Alameda. By 1920, Samuel, a blacksmith, bought a home for the family on Lincoln Avenue near Grand Street. 

Writer Rasheed Shabazz led a Black History Month home tour last Saturday titled: “Early Black Pioneers of Alameda.” More than 30 local residents gathered at Lincoln Avenue and Grand Street for the two-hour walking tour of Alameda’s north shore, where the first pioneering Black Alamedans built their homes in the late 1800s. 

According to Shabazz, the first Black families were drawn to California and settled in Alameda for both the pleasant climate and employment opportunities. Initially Blacks lived in Alameda only as laborers in the homes of White people. 

Alameda Island Poets’ monthly free reading Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m., will celebrate Black History Month with local poets Amos White and Wanda Sabir. 

White is an award-winning American haiku poet, author, producer, director and activist, recognized for his vivid literary imagery and breathless poetic interpretations. He has been published in several national and international reviews and anthologies. 

The Black Student Union (BSU) at Nea Community Learning Center hosted its second annual celebration of Black History Month March 1. Black History Month is celebrated in February every year to learn about African-American history and celebrate leaders of the community. 

Does Alameda Still Have a ‘Black Community’?

I am often asked questions like, “What does the Black community think about [insert some random issue]?” I usually respond, “I am not Alameda’s Negro spokesman.” And, I don’t know if Alameda still has a Black community. 

Since the 1990s, forced migration, displacement, along with class dynamics and demographic changes, have complicated the continuity and sense of a “Black community” in Alameda.

Black politics in 1990s Alameda

In 1989, Clayton Guyton and Modessa Henderson sued the City of Alameda for discriminatory housing policies. The two Black residents of the Buena Vista Apartments were among hundreds who just two years earlier faced massive rent increases.

Three accomplished Alameda Black women leaders will discuss their lives and careers during a panel discussion at the Alameda Main Library, 1550 Oak St., on Sunday, Feb. 24, in celebration of Black History Month. The discussion will take place from 2 to 4 p.m.  The three panelists are:

 

In 1943, Edwin Leon Coleman boarded a segregated train with his parents in El Dorado, Ark., and headed to Alameda. Since White soldiers and passengers occupied all the seats in the “colored” area of the train, Coleman, his mother and sister rode in the vestibule between cars most of the way to California. Despite the uncomfortable half-week journey, the family held out hope that better opportunities would await them in California. Little did the Colemans know that segregation awaited them in the Golden State.

The Alameda Island Poets will celebrate Black History Month Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m., at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru St. Speakers include the award-winning author of more than 30 books, Ishmael Reed, his daughter, Tennessee Reed, Fairfield’s first Poet Laureate, Juanita Martin and poet-singer-songwriter Boundless Gratitude, also known as Haussan Jones-Bey.

 

Students at the Child Unique Montessori School and Montessori Elementary School of Alameda marked National African American History Month (popularly known as Black History Month) with a series of campaigns designed to celebrate and share the achievements that African Americans have brought to the United States and the Bay Area specifically.

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