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The historically Black neighborhood of West Oakland is changing, like much of California’s Bay Area—but longtime local residents are working on a project to immortalize their neighborhood’s legacy: the birthplace of the Black Panther Party. A grassroots museum and mural honors the vital contributions of the oft-overlooked women of the Black Panthers. Ivette Feliciano reports.

The historically Black West Oakland neighborhood, in Oakland, California, was once a thriving cultural hub with a bustling music scene. It was also the birthplace of the Black Panther Party. The neighborhood has since changed, but a small museum is honoring the history and efforts of an overlooked but impactful group, the women of the Black Panther Party. NewsHour Weekend’s Ivette Feliciano has more.

Ivette Feliciano:

During the tech boom of the past 20 years, it is no secret that Bay Area cities are home to some of the fastest rates of gentrification in America. And the historically African American neighborhood of West Oakland, just across the water from downtown San Francisco, is no exception. Since 1980, the Black population has been cut in half, down to less than 25 percent of the current residents. A fact not lost on longtime resident Jilchristina Vest.

Ivette Feliciano:

The Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland in 1966, just blocks from Vest’s home. Co-founder Huey P. Newton has a mural, a statue, and even Vest’s own street has been renamed after him. It’s easy to find monuments to the men of this national organization that advocated for the self-defense of African Americans. So Vest decided it was time for a monument to the women of the Black Panther Party.

Ivette Feliciano:

To answer this question, Vest sought the guidance of notable Black Panthers like Ericka Huggins and Cheryl Dawson. With a team of artists led by Rachel Wolf Goldsmith, they designed a mural to commemorate the spirit of these women.

The 2,000 square foot project was funded with local grants, as well as hundreds of online donations from supportive neighbors and community members.

It’s shown that it’s a community project and it’s for the community, and for these women, many of whom lived in this community. And the fact that it was going to bring me joy, it has absolutely brought so many other people joy. I feel like the house is asking to be seen, like Black women are asking to be seen. And this is a space that’s going to allow that.

This content was originally published here.

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