Social Justice activists partied down on June 28 at the Oakland Progressives Party + Townie Awards at the Oakland Museum.
The combined party, fundraiser, and awards ceremony, occurred in the museum’s sculpture garden.
It was also a 10th anniversary celebration for Oakland Rising.
The awards celebrate the work of Oakland’s social justice warriors – the activists, organizations, and other leaders who advance community-led solutions supporting the interests of working-class and immigrant communities of color.
Award recipients include a woman who’s bringing a racial justice lens to transportation governance on the BART board, current and former leaders of organizations who are now stepping up to run for office, a neighborhood-based coalition that is taking power into its own hands in the wake of neglect by its city council members and local businesses that truly value community.
In her opening remarks for the awards, Jessamyn Sabbag, Executive Director of Oakland Rising, encouraged the crowd to prepare for the upcoming and future elections by growing a reliable base of progressive voters.
That message was re-emphasized by Lateefah Simon, winner of the Government Official Townie, who was elected to the BART Board of Directors running on a platform of equity, dignity and justice.
“We need an an electoral system where we can elevate leaders from our community,” Simon said. She spoke of combining love and action with community building to change Oakland politics. “It’s about a having community of loving people surrounding us, ” she said. “We can create a community of love that is absolutely accountable, that is loving and just. We are all we have.”
Huba Sherry, who accepted the award with Angie Tam, said she was excited by the launch of the Congress. “We have formulated a people’s agenda on topics such as safety, illegal trash dumping, jobs, and gentrification,” Sherry said. “That idea of people power is changing the dynamics of East Oakland. ”
Nehanda Imara of East Oakland Building Helathy Communities (EOBHC) was one of the award presenters. “This is an awesome movement. It’s about building relationships between neighbors and between organizations,” Imara said. “We’re going deeper, bigger and broader. People in East Oakland want to see change. Organizing for building power is a marathon, not a 20- yard dash.”
“Oakland Rising tries to bring economic and racial justice to the neighborhoods of Oakland,” Rev. Damita Davis-Howard, Oakland Rising’s political director, told Oakland Voices. She said the organization partners with nine groups throughout the city including Causa Justa, EBASE, the St. Mary Center, and the Ella Baker Center.
“I loved the diversity of crowd (at the Townie Awards) and I’m proud that people in this city recognize the efforts to preserve that diversity and culture of caring for each other and honors the people and organizations that do this on a day-to-day basis,” Davis-Howard said.
East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods – Volunteer Townie
Parent Voices Oakland – Youth Advocate Townie
Lateefah Simon, BART Board of Directors – Government Official Townie
SoleSpace & Town Biz – Local Business Townie to Jeff Perlstein and Chaney Turner
Nikki Forunato Bas – Townie of the year