Eighth Annual Townies Awards Highlights Oakland’s Progressive Side

photo showing 2 volunteers from the Congress of Neighborhoods, and 2 award presenters
Left to right: Huba Sherry, the Congress of Neighborhoods, Sandra Davis, award presenter, Angie Tam of the Congress, and Nehanda Imara, East Oakland Building Healthy Communities at the 2018 Townie Awards.


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.

“We have to learn how to stand for our values in face of transactional and short term thinking, ” she said.
“We’re stepping into governing in a way that hasn’t happened before… and we’re doing the work to build power.”
Lateefah Simon

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.”

 The new multi-organization and multi-area Congress of Neighborhoods  won the Townie Volunteer award since it is basically a volunteer organization with staff support from organizations that partner with Oakland Rising.

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.”

Regarding Oakland’ Rising’s 10th anniversary, Sabbag told the audience she was proud of the work the organization has done over the past decade.
Oakland Rising has worked on Costa-Hawkins rent control limitations and also on Oakland’s Tenant Protection Act which outlaws landlord harassment and neglect as methods of evicting tenants.  In 2014 it worked to pass Measure FF by 82 percent, increasing Oakland’s minimum wage and providing workers with paid sick days.

“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.

 Here are the 2018 Townie awards  winners :

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

View a 90 image photo album from the Townie Awards HERE


Left to right: Presenter Laneese Martin, Chaney Turner and Jeff Perlstein of SoleSpace & Town Biz – Local Business Townie

Award for Congress of Neighborhoods.

Nikki Fortunato Bas
Nikki Fortunato Bas, Townie of the Year
Lateefah Simon with presenter Alicia Garza
Members of Parent Voices Oakland received the Youth Advocate Townie
the crowd at the Progressive Party.

The Townie Awards on display

Author Profile

Howard Dyckoff has lived in Oakland for over 40 years and has been involved with many community groups, including Oakland Digital and Oakland Local, Block by Block, the East Oakland Boxing Association (EOBA), and CBE. A Brooklyn, New York, transplant, and an Aerospace Engineering graduate of NY Polytechnic, Howard also attended Laney College, where he wrote for the Laney Tower newspaper and was elected editor. Howard also attended the Starr King School at the Theological Union in Berkeley.

He has served as the Berkeley Free Clinic’s Outreach Coordinator, and also worked as an information technology professional at Chevron, Sybase, and Wells Fargo. He worked in both the 2010 and 2020 Census. Howard has been a regular contributor to Oakland Local and online publications such as TechTarget and Linux Gazette and currently writes for Oakland Voices. He currently does event photography and portraiture around the Bay Area.

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