Oakland Library and Oakland History Center

You’re outside the Children’s Room of the main Oakland Public Library. This building has been the main library since 1951; you’ll see the earlier main library at the end of this tour.

The main library is home to the Oakland History Center. This remarkable resource is headed by Dorothy Lazard, and in addition to regular displays from Oakland history, the OHC has lots of books, photos, maps, directories, and other resources to help you learn about Oakland, your home, or even your family. If you have time and the library is open, head up to the top floor to check out the history center.

This stop is a good place to talk about some other people from Oakland history.

Morrie Turner was the first syndicated Black cartoonist with the ground-breaking strip “Wee Pals.” Turner’s intentions in drawing the comic strip were to “portray a world without prejudice, a world in which people’s differences — race, religion, gender, and physical and mental ability — are cherished, not scorned.” The strip was initially in 5 newspapers; after the assassination of MLK, it was in over 100.

Behind you across Oak Street is the solid-looking OFD Fire Alarm Building. Royal Towns was an early Black firefighter, and first to be promoted. Although he easily passed the firefighter test (he was very intelligent and spoke 3 languages), he was initially rejected, but he persisted and went on to help desegregate the department.

This stop is part of these tours: