The Oakland Stairs Project – Racial Equity Fund

Since late July 2020, a group of residents in the Upper Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland have been working to turn the stairs between Modoc and Proctor Avenues into a permanent mural dedicated to racial justice, entitled “The Oakland Stairs Project.” Its purpose is to create a space for Black and POC residents and allies to feel welcome in a neighborhood with a racist history.  The Oakland Stairs Project is inviting Oakland’s Black artists and artists of color to raise their voices in creating a collaborative stair mural on the Sunflower Path stairs supporting BLACK LIVES MATTER.

 

The Sunflower Path stairs, between Morpeth Street and Proctor Avenue in the Oakland hills, consists of 83 stairs and two intermediary landings. In May of 2020, three young women chalked these stairs with 83 names of victims of police brutality nationwide. The mural was repeatedly vandalized and erased, but the issue remains crucial to our country and our neighborhood. With the intention of reclaiming this point in Oakland from redlining and a shamefully racist history, The Oakland Stairs Project aims to echo the original intention, and evolve it into a permanent stair mural that embodies racial equality, unity and change. Our hope is that the mural transforms the Sunflower path stairs into a local landmark, connecting the Oakland hills to its greater community, as well as inspiring and positive impact on local residents and visitors.

 

We have gathered over 300 signatures demonstrating neighborhood support, and are raising funds to work with a local Black artist or artist of color to create a mixed media mural incorporating paint and tile for the Sunflower Path stairs. The project will utilize volunteers from the community to help fund, execute and maintain the mural, and carry the messages and importance of it into the neighborhood’s schools.  We have received support from local Councilmember Dan Kalb, and we’re speaking with the city of Oakland to apply/get permission for the project. There are already residents who oppose this mural, making claims that the Black Lives Matter movement has ruined the neighborhood, making it feel divisive, and a permanent mural would only increase that. But the events of the summer of 2020 cannot be erased. When Black and POC residents feel unsafe in a neighborhood with a history of racism, it’s time to speak up and make space for residents of color.  Together, we stand against systemic racism in recognition of the inherent worth and dignity of every person, regardless of race or culture.

 

Join us in this important work. Please consider donating to The Oakland Stairs Project – Racial Equity Fund housed at the East Bay Community Foundation.