City Center

Tour: Black History (7/10)

Directions to City Center

From City Center at Broadway at 13th Street, look east to see the Tribune Tower.

Robert Maynard was a remarkable journalist. He dropped out of high school at age 16 to take his first writing job, and later wrote for the Washington Post. In 1977, he and his wife Nancy Maynard founded the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education with the adage “Newsrooms have the responsibility to cure the legacy of racism.” He was named editor of the Oakland Tribune in 1979, and the Maynards bought the Tribune in 1983. They turned the struggling paper into a Pulitzer Prize winner. Sadly, Robert Maynard died at age 56 of cancer.

Although the Tribune was a very conservative paper when controlled by the Knowland family, in 1923 Delilah Beasley became the first Black woman to be regularly published in a major U.S. newspaper. Her Tribune column “Activities Among Negroes” reported on the doings of Black people in Oakland and elsewhere. She had previously written for the Oakland Sunshine, and in 1919 she wrote the ground-breaking book The Negro Trail Blazers of California, which documented for the first time the contributions of Blacks in early California.

“Every life casts its shadow, my life plus others make a power to move the world. I, therefore, pledge my life to the living world of brotherhood and mutual understanding between the races.” – Delilah Beasley

If you look down into the 12th Street BART entrance plaza below, you may see a sculpture that most people pass by without noticing—it’s of John B. Williams, namesake of the plaza. Williams was head of the Oakland Redevelopment Agency and Oakland’s Office of Community Development from 1964 to 1976. He was in charge of the redevelopment of the downtown business district and the creation of the City Center project.

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