Oakland greeted the Sacramento Voices with sunshine and cool bay breezes on Saturday, March 14. Oakland Voices and Sacramento Voices correspondents boarded a bus that would take us through the heart of Oakland.
Our first stop was a step back into the history of our journalistic lineage. At the Tribune building, Martin Reynolds, senior editor of community engagement at the Oakland Tribune, and Brenda Payton, coordinator of Oakland Voices, gave a history of the paper, from the Knowland family to the Maynard family, who protected and heralded its existence.
Contrary to the conspiracy theories about the paper held by some of Oakland’s current activists, at least since 1979, when Robert Maynard took over as editor and then publisher, the paper has movement roots. Maynard was simple yet cutting edge. He envisioned newsrooms reflective of the communities that were being reported on.
To date, my favorite talk story is Payton’s recollection of being at the DeLauer’s Newstand when Maynard had the audacity to lure her away from the San Francisco Examiner to the Oakland paper. I loved seeing Payton’s energy rise and that spark from her eyes when she told the story of how she came to Oakland. It’s clear she had no regrets.
I loved all of the storytelling that was inspired by all the places we visited. Organically, each Oakland Voices correspondent contributed a personal story rooted in a particular neighborhood.
We wove stories of favorite restaurants, businesses, recreation centers and parks we frequented, with stories of the hardships our neighborhoods face due to lack of employment, violence, crime and the high cost of living.
Sacramento Voices members asked us questions like, “Is gentrification the cause of displacement of the African-American community?, “How much is your rent?”, “Didn’t the Hell’s Angel’s start in Oakland?”, ‘Do the sports teams give back?”
On a daily basis I hear how great our city is regardless of our challenges, but it’s always through the looking glass of visitors that I really begin to believe it and am grateful to have my little slice of it.