In 1966, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale drafted the Black Panther manifesto in a two-bedroom bungalow on 57th Street in Oakland.Last year, that house - refurbished with hardwood floors, drought-tolerant landscaping and quartz countertops - sold for $425,000.Such is the story of West Oakland and its environs these days.
The heart of African American culture in the Bay Area, if not the West Coast, is now a real estate agent's dream. Thousands of transplants from San Francisco, mostly younger, mostly white people lured east by lower rents, have discovered the sunny enclaves of West Oakland and staked their claims."West Oakland is really vibrant right now.
Young people, young families, are finding it to be an edgy, dynamic, urban place to live," said Andrea Gordon, a top-producing real estate agent with Coldwell Banker's Oakland office. "They can get a Victorian here that would cost $400,000 more a mile away in Rockridge."
In some West Oakland census tracts, the number of white residents has doubled in the past 10 years, bringing their numbers to nearly equal with their African American counterparts. Asian and Latino residents have increased, as well.
Over the same period, thousands of African American families have left the neighborhood, mostly heading to eastern Contra Costa and Solano counties.
Some African Americans say the influx of white people has triggered a rise in rents and housing prices, pricing out black families from the neighborhoods their families have lived in for generations.
Others say African Americans started leaving West Oakland years ago due to crime and schools, leaving vacancies for newcomers - in this case, mostly young people enticed by the good weather, proximity to San Francisco and block after block of affordable Victorians and ultramodern condos.
In any case, West Oakland looks a lot different than it did a decade ago. New condominiums have proliferated, old Victorians are undergoing renovations, shuttered factories are now artists' studios, and blight has decreased.
But gone, too, is a certain pride that sprung from what was once known as "Harlem of the West.""It hurts. I'm not going to say I'm content with this," said Leander Muhammed, 34, a third-generation West Oakland resident who runs after-school and sports programs for kids in the neighborhood.
"Suddenly there's nonprofits and community gardens on every corner. Community gardens? I don't get it - my granny was planting collards and tomatoes here for decades. It all seems crazy to me."
What was life in West Oakland before white people came and the 'heart' of the black community in California beat proudly? [
Shoppers can safely travel on BART this holiday season, thanks to the Oakland Police Department's Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.
The black squad car sits silent, its mere presence intended to be enough to scare off anyone mulling a run up Sequoyah Road to loot a house or bust a car window.
Although it looks the part, the Ford Crown Victoria isn't actually a police car, and the man behind the wheel is no cop. He's one of dozens of private security officers hired by residents across Oakland to supplement - if not replace - a depleted, overwhelmed police force.
As burglaries, home invasions, carjackings and assaults creep into Oakland neighborhoods less accustomed to crime, residents have built fences, armed alarms and installed security cameras.
And now, in greater numbers, they're hiring private security patrols.
Or they take to the streets, policing themselves. [Oakland Neighbors Policing Their Own Streets As They Lose Faith In Cops, CBS, 2-26-13]
The police, as well as the law-abiding citizens of Oakland, are under siege by black crime, largely protected by the constant fear of the black community rallying around said black criminal and rioting [Oakland Police Caught Between Reform and Crime Surge, New York Times, 4-19-2012].
Chip Johnson, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, offers us a glimpse into the type of world black people have created in not just West Oakland, but the entire city. [Oakland police chief fails to calm suspicions, SF Gate, 5-25-12]:
As difficult as the relationship between Oakland police and advocates for justice may be, it doesn't explain the lack of outrage for the most serious problem that exists in the community: the homicides of African American men at the hands of other African American men. In 2010, statistics provided by the city showed that African Americans made up 28 percent of the population and 78 percent of its homicide victims. That's not the result of overzealous police actions.
"It would be great if we had that much passion for all the people being shot, but we don't hear Occupy protesters or anyone else protesting about that," said Bishop Bob Jackson, pastor of the church on 66th Avenue in East Oakland. Unfortunately, what the Police Department regards as an investigation of an individual shooting, many people in Oakland's African American community view as an ongoing pattern of indiscriminate police violence aimed straight at them - and worse - their teenage and young-adult children.
And given department statistics, there is certainly a case to be made.
Since May 2010, there have been nine fatal officer-involved shootings in Oakland, and eight of those killed have been African American males, according to department records. Police did not provide statistics for nonfatal officer shootings.