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Oakland Students Receive Back to School Shopping Spree

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About 90 students from across Oakland Unified School District are well prepared for the first day of classes after a special morning in Emeryville.

The students, who came from elementary, middle and high schools, got a $100 shopping spree for school supplies at Target on July 26.

The students picked up backpacks, pens, pencils, notebooks and a variety of other items that have them ready to learn as soon as school begins on August 21.

“It means a lot because a lot of schools don’t get to do this,” said Josilhlyn Clark, an incoming sixth grader at Roosevelt Middle School. Roosevelt was one of 11 schools with students who were given the shopping sprees.

Josilhlyn’s mother was pleased when she received a phone call from school inviting them to the event.

“This is one less thing that we have to worry about. School supplies are taken care of and we will miss the last minute rush,” said mother Billie Hix, who is herself a school teacher and every year buys supplies for her class with her own money.

“It’s hard to teach when your kids don’t have what they need,” she said.

Harvey Fong is an incoming 3rd grader at Lincoln Elementary who was especially excited about his new backpack. “It’s great,” he said. Harvey’s mother Jan is thrilled with the program. “I feel lucky. He’s so excited. He said, ‘I can’t wait to go shopping!’”

The students with the shopping sprees came from Oakland High, Oakland Tech, Castlemont High, Street Academy, Roosevelt Middle, Edna Brewer Middle, Claremont Middle, Greenleaf TK-8, Lincoln Elementary, Hoover Elementary and Parker Elementary schools.

The shopping sprees were sponsored by the Oakland Public Education Fund with help from Oakland Unified School District and Target.

Everyone on hand left the store with a big smile on their face, including little Callie, who is a future OUSD student and the sister of current Roosevelt student, Josilhlyn Clark.

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Art

Jean-Michel Basquiat, A Troubled Soul

Basquiat often said that he “felt friendless and misunderstood.” After his parents separated, Gerard moved with his children to Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood. When he was 7, Basquiat’s mother was diagnosed as mentally ill and was eventually institutionalized. This part of his life troubled him greatly.

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Untitled, 1981 by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Wikipedia photo.
Untitled, 1981 by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Wikipedia photo.

By Tamara Shiloh

It was the early summer of 1980. More than 100 artists converged on an abandoned four-story building at Seventh Avenue and 41st Street in New York City that had once served as a massage parlor. Among those in the group was Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988). His work on exhibit was believed to have been his first painting on canvas.

Although the exhibition, dubbed “The Times Square Show,” drew critical attention, it boosted 18-year-old Basquiat’s career as a painter. His contribution, a mural painted on a patch of wall, was described by Art in America as “a knockout combination of de Kooning and subway paint scribbles.”

The path to that shuttered massage parlor and his rise to success during the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionism movement were not without difficulty.

Basquiat was born into a middle-class family in Brooklyn. His father, Gerard, a Haitian immigrant, was an accountant. His mother, Mathilde, was a homemaker. Despite her frequent hospital stays for depression, Mathilde spent countless hours in the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum with Jean-Michel, encouraging his interest in painting.

Gerard, physically abusive, wasn’t involved in his son’s career. Biographies and films have chronicled the strained relationship between the two, according to DNA Info.

Basquiat often said that he “felt friendless and misunderstood.” After his parents separated, Gerard moved with his children to Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood. When he was 7, Basquiat’s mother was diagnosed as mentally ill and was eventually institutionalized. This part of his life troubled him greatly.

By age 17, Basquiat dropped out of high school. Gerard then threw him out of the house. He stayed with friends, slept in Washington Square Park, and lived-in run-down hotels.

It was then that he partnered with other graffiti artists and created the persona, SAMO, meaning “same old sh––.” For money, he panhandled and sold sweatshirts and postcards marked with his drawings. He got by on “cheap red wine and 15¢ bags of Cheetos.”

With no formal training, Basquiat created work that mixed graffiti and signs with the gestural and intuitive approach of Abstract Expressionist painting.

He expressed his personal angst in highly stylized self-portraits. In the early ’80s, race entered his work for the first time as a reflection of a “growing consciousness of his own position within the New York art world.”

His painting, “The Death of Michael Stewart” commemorates the killing of the young Black artist by New York City Transit Police. “Black people are never really portrayed realistically…. I mean, not even portrayed in modern art enough,” Basquiat had said.

Basquiat died of a drug overdose in 1988. Toward the end of his life, his works were selling around $25,000 to the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

Earlier though, both museums had rejected his work.

Be inspired by Basquiat’s paintings, read “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Sarah Jane Boyers.

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Bay Area

Schaaf Seeks Retraction from Post Over School Closing Remarks

In a KQED interview, Mayor Libby Schaaf supported the proposed closing of 15 schools as an “opportunity” and even went father. “This is not just some painful but necessary budget cut,” she said. “I really feel for parents, students, teachers. We have been through so much trauma, and they have every right to feel distrustful and fearful about this decision. But I believe that it is different this time.

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Oakland.ca.org photo.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Oakland.ca.org photo.

By Ken Epstein

The Office of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has demanded a retraction from Oakland Post, saying the newspaper was incorrect to characterize Schaaf as a supporter of permanently closing up to half of the public schools in Oakland.

“She’s never held that position,” said Justin Berton, the mayor’s spokesperson, in an email to the Post.  “As you know, knowingly publishing false information is not only unethical, it’s potentially actionable,” he wrote.

Berton was responding to a sentence in an article in last week’s Post that said, “Schaaf, a longtime supporter of charter schools, has spoken forcefully in the media in favor of closing as many as half of the city’s public schools.”

The Post’s comments on the mayor’s position was based on a Feb. 4, 2022, interview with KQED. At the time, the school district had just announced that it was closing 15 schools this year and next and was planning to close more in future years.

The City Council took a strong position opposing the school closings not Mayor Schaaf.

In the KQED interview, Schaaf supported the proposed closing of 15 schools as an “opportunity” and even went farther.

“This is not just some painful but necessary budget cut,” she said. “I really feel for parents, students, teachers. We have been through so much trauma, and they have every right to feel distrustful and fearful about this decision. But I believe that it is different this time.

“When you look at districts like Stockton, Fremont, San Jose, they serve roughly the same number of students, about (33,000). But they do it in almost half the campuses, between 41 and 48 campuses in those three districts, whereas Oakland has EIGHTY CAMPUSES (Schaaf’s emphasis).

“This is an opportunity to do better for our students, our educators, our families, and I trust this leader to deliver on that promise in a way that has never happened before.”

To review Mayor Schaaf’s remarks, go to the original interview at https://archive.org/details/KQED_20220205_030000_KQED_Newsroom/start/360/end/420

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Bay Area

Residents Demand Right to Vote on Use of Public Funds for A’s Stadium Project

“We’re here to commit to the residents of Oakland that they must have a right to vote on whether to spend over a billion public dollars (on the proposal) for the Oakland A’s to build a stadium and real estate development at Howard Terminal,” said City Council member Noel Gallo, speaking at the media event Wednesday morning.

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Councilmember Noel Gallo speaks at a press conference Wednesday, June 29, calling on the City Council to put public funding for the Oakland A's real estate development on the November ballot. Photo by Ken Epstein
Councilmember Noel Gallo speaks at a press conference Wednesday, June 29, calling on the City Council to put public funding for the Oakland A's real estate development on the November ballot. Photo by Ken Epstein

Oakland City Council may decide July 5 whether to place measure on November ballot

By Post Staff

Oakland community leaders and activists, port workers and environmental advocates joined City Councilmember Noel Gallo on the steps of City Hall this week to urge the City Council to allow the public to vote on the use of public funds for the A’s stadium and private real estate development at Howard Terminal.

“We’re here to commit to the residents of Oakland that they must have a right to vote on whether to spend over a billion public dollars (on the proposal) for the Oakland A’s to build a stadium and real estate development at Howard Terminal,” said Gallo, speaking at the media event Wednesday morning.

“This is an unprecedented grab of public funds,” which could grow considerably because there seems to be no limit on the city’s liability for potential cost overruns, Gallo said.

“We have to learn from our past experiences (with the Raiders) to not make the same mistake again,” he said.

The rally comes in anticipation of a July 5 City Council meeting that will consider a resolution to put an advisory vote on the November ballot on the use of public funds to support a privately owned stadium and real estate development at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

At the Tuesday, July 5 meeting, the Council will discuss the measure and may ultimately take a final vote on placing it on the ballot. Public comment for this item will be taken at the beginning of the meeting.

In recent weeks, more than 4,000 Oakland residents have signed a petition in support of putting the measure on the November ballot.

Other speakers at the City Hall media event included James Vann, an advocate for affordable and homeless services.

“This is the people’s money, and the people should get to decide,” said Vann.

Civil rights attorney and activist Walter Riley said that Oakland A’s owner John Fisher is acting like a “corporate raider” who takes money out of the A’s instead of investing in his team.

Instead of giving a billion dollars to Fisher’s private development, the city should be investing in building and maintaining public parks and other infrastructure needs, he said.

Naomi Schiff, a housing activist, said, “The Howard Terminal deal keeps getting more expensive” for taxpayers. adding that the stadium at Howard Terminal would be built on a “inundation zone and liquification zone.”

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