Skip to content

A brief history of West Oakland

on May 31, 2013

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 on May 31, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Very nice reporting although Nancy Nadel should have been identified.

  2. wellslake on May 31, 2013 at 10:00 am

    That was very well done! Good work!

  3. caljcs on June 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    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 on June 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    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 on June 3, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    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 on June 4, 2013 at 10:40 am

    This is awesome!

  7. Maureen in Oakland on June 6, 2013 at 11:56 pm

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

  8. D Roberts on June 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

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

  9. dgh on June 13, 2013 at 7:55 am

    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.

    • Carolyn Vallerga on June 27, 2013 at 7:50 am

      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 on June 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    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 on September 14, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    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. United Cash Loan on October 18, 2013 at 11:49 am

    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.

  13. Kimberly Perette on February 4, 2018 at 8:48 am

    Gentrification is the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste it has nothing to do with color. It has to do with economics and land ownership. Seventh Street was a thriving African American business district for the middle class.West Oakland was a thriving African American community that was systematically destroyed by laws backed by the Federal Government. I’m an urbanist and architectural historian. Be on the look out for more information.

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top