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Community Market Reclaiming Space in Deep East Oakland




In East Oakland, The Black Cultural Zone opens the weekly Akoma Outdoor Market with support from Councilmember Loren Taylor and many other community organizations. 

The Black Cultural Zone (BCZ), in partnership with Oakland City Councilmember Loren Taylor, launched a weekly Sunday market on Sept. 6 in the heart of East Oakland in District 6.

The vibrant energy of the new Akoma Outdoor Market could be heard and felt well beyond the boundaries of the formerly vacant 56K-square-foot lot at the corner of 73rd Avenue and Foothill Boulevard – now reclaimed for community activation and liberation.

This market is named “Akoma” which means “heart” in Twi (a language spoken by the Ashanti in Ghana) because it is expected to bring new energy and life to the surrounding community by providing access to healthy foods, business opportunities for entrepreneurs, arts and cultural enrichment, and a variety of resources to help community members achieve their greatest potential.

Vendors at the market reflect the breadth of the African Diaspora as they sell fruits and vegetables, plants and flowers, beauty and skincare products, coffee/teas and juices, ice cream and cakes, and much more.  Additional food booths/trucks are planned this weekend and the goal is to have two-three food booths/trucks each week to provide a sufficient variety of hot foods for customers.

“We are excited to see the Akoma Market come to life helping to restore the historical, cultural, and economic vibrancy of East Oakland,” said Carolyn (CJ) Johnson, chief executive officer of the BCZ Community Development Corporation.

East Oakland residents have often bemoaned the limited access to healthy foods and other amenities that most neighborhoods in Oakland take for granted. At the same time, these same residents are fearful that improved amenities like banks, farmer’s markets, cafes, and sit-down restaurants will increase gentrification and displacement of long-term African American residents, family members and friends.

Photo by Pamela Ferran

Taylor has pushed hard against the notion that East Oaklanders should settle for an either/or mentality.  “In East Oakland, we deserve nice things and we deserve to be able to stay in the town that we grew up in,” he said.

The Akoma Market is one of many initiatives he is pursuing to demonstrate development without displacement in East Oakland.  “Centering our community is critical as we make investments, develop policies and implement programs to improve our part of the city.”

Members of the public are encouraged to come out to the weekly Akoma Outdoor Market between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. every Sunday through November 22 to shop, eat, learn, and play in a COVID-compliant environment where masks and social distancing is required.  For more information please contact