A brief history of West Oakland

Produced by Tasion Kwamilele

In the 50’s and the 60’s, when an industrial boom filled the shipyard with good jobs, many blacks came from the south and settled in West Oakland. People called it the second gold rush.

Since then, the neighborhood has undergone seismic changes. Once a hub for movements like the Black Panther Party and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the low rent and proximity to San Francisco has more recently attracted a young creative class.

Oakland North reporter Tasion Kwamilele explores the history of West Oakland from the perspective of her family and other long-time residents who have watched it change.


  1. Rebecca Chekouras

    Very nice reporting although Nancy Nadel should have been identified.

  2. That was very well done! Good work!

  3. caljcs

    A glimpse into history of a neighborhood about which I don’t know much. I appreciate the opportunity to see the history as well as today’s circumstances.

  4. Annabelle

    I agree this is very well done. Nice job showing different view points, and being sensitive to all parties. In the midst of the very divisive discussions re: gentrification, this is refreshing.

  5. len raphael

    Fair and balanced. Seriously.

    History of West Oakland goes back pre WWII of course, and had several waves of social change before then. Would have liked to learn more of the transition from those earlier period. Part II?

    (I thought Huey Newton born in North Oakland? Graduated from Tech?)

  6. Sean Stephenson

    This is awesome!

  7. Great reporting! I would love to see more about each neighborhood done this way.

  8. D Roberts

    Best piece on Oakland I have seen in a loooong time!

  9. dgh

    Check your work. “The second gold rush” is usually a reference to the mass migrations to the shipyards and other war-related jobs that erupted in WW2 – NOT in the 50’s and 60’s as you’ve described here. And the Panthers were nearly extinct by 1979, not 1989.

    • Thank you for your correction. WW II in the early 1940s necessitated there be more ships for the navy. Henry Kaiser facillitated ship building in Richmond and there was a mass migration from the south to work in these shipyards. During the war most of these workers were women: Rosie the Riviter a very famous character. Gee, I hope the youth do not forget the massive importance of this time in the Bay Area’s importance! The 50’s and the 60’s just brought cultural changes like Rock and Roll, Corvet automoiles, Hippies, anti war movement against Vietnam. I know because I was there!

  10. Pen

    Played it at a cafe on a Sunday afternoon, and watched it with a few other folks– It made for a good conversation piece… THANK YOU FOR THIS!

  11. jackie

    Huey was born in Monroe, Louisiana. His mother was my neighbor in the 70’s. Parts of North West Oakland were called Little Monroe due to people coming up from there years back.

  12. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on
    my end or if it’s the blog. Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

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