By Carla Thomas
In “From Blacks to Brown and Beyond - The Struggle for Progressive Politics in Oakland, 1966-2011” author and educator Dr. Stanley Oden promises to take readers on an exciting and tumultuous journey from the Civil Rights Movement to Occupy Oakland.
What began as a dissertation while obtaining his PhD in Sociology at UC Santa Cruz in 2000, is now over 300 pages with colorful photos offering a bird’s eye view of Oakland politics like never before.
While the pages are filled with interviews from the administrations of Jerry Brown, Ron Dellums and Jean Quan, Oden offers much of his own political experience. “I worked on the Cassie Lopez campaign in 1983 and then the Jesse Jackson campaign in 1984 as a coordinator. In 1988, I was the leader of the Oakland Berkeley Rainbow Coalition--the most organized chapter in the nation at the time,” he said.
Currently an associate professor for the Department of Government at CSU Sacramento and originally from San Diego, Oden appears to have been in the right place at the right time as a young student at UC Davis in 1967 during the height of the civil rights era.
“I was president of the Black Student Union and when King was killed we helped organize the black movement at UC Davis and ushered in Black Studies,” he proudly stated. “We even pursued the name of the UC Davis Law School named after Dr. King and led affirmative action in the UC Davis Medical School when the Baake decision came about.”
From 1968-1974 Oden worked in the San Diego Model cities program doing community development and was later assistant to the city manager of Berkeley for 15 years as a labor management facilitator working in community development housing. During that time, he became involved in politics in Oakland - the genesis of writing the book.
|Dr. Stanley Oden and Paul Cobb|
Oden says he chose to document the power shift in Oakland from white conservative political rule to black liberal rule. “In the 70s Lionel Wilson was elected mayor and I chronicled this in my dissertation and in my book, I traced the entire political history of Oakland during that time and focused on the city election process, downtown development, and the port of Oakland,” he said.
Oden’s own life coupled with hours of archival research and interviews of over 20 key politicians and community activists, such as, then and now Governor Jerry Brown, publisher Paul Cobb, and Black Panther leader David Hilliard make the book a page turner. “You hear a lot about progressive politics and don’t understand what it looks like on the ground in urban areas and urban politics and my book exposes this within the African American, liberal and the business communities to show how these dynamics work,” said Oden.
To Oden, Oakland is a unique city with a fascinating history contrary to what much of the media presents. Readers will learn how the political economy of Oakland and the election process led to other city issues and outcomes.
“Oakland is an important city, not a crime ridden place, but a city that has dynamic politics in history and even now,” expressed Oden. “I was in New York on October 25 and Occupy Oakland was big news on the east coast” Oden says Oakland has and always will be at the core of political events.
“I want Oakland to be seen as a very important epicenter of Urban Politics and Oakland has always been in the forefront, like the Black Panthers and the work of Paul Cobb over the years is something people need to hear about. Others have written about it but most haven’t worked or lived in Oakland like I did.”
Oden’s book is due out in the spring by Cognella Publishers of San Diego. For more information: email: