West Oakland during the 1960s was a different time and now 50 years later, Oakland erects a mural to preserve more of this historic time.
“It’s the first Black Panther Party mural in Oakland to be painted by black people,” reports East Bay Express. Which is stunning to read, taking shape at the corner of 14th and Peralta streets—the mural is being conducted and executed by Oakland locals, Refa Senay and Batsh Lo. A little history and backstory for you about WHY this is a big deal: West Oakland is the historic home of the Black Panther Party. Not only did the group’s free breakfast program start there, but at one point it was also home to the party’s headquarters. Many of the organization’s activities were held in DeFremery Park, which is known as Lil’ Bobby Hutton Memorial Park, after the Panthers’ treasurer and first member.
At first the owner of the liquor store (who homes the mural) had major push back with the artist but allowed other weird art to live on the side. The neighborhood was heard and the owner finally allowed the duo to begin the sketch work for their memorial.
Senay and Lo’s work features a blue-hued background, with portraits of Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. “It’s important for African people to control their visual landscape in their neighborhoods,” Senay, whose parents were Black Panthers and who lives in the area, told East Bay Express. “Anything that we do not control can be used as a weapon against us.”
// The murals are on display now so check them out when you can! Photo by Olivia Krause.