Established by Resolution #85958 by the Oakland City Council on January 19, 2016, the Black Arts Movement Business District is both a civic ordinance the city has been slow to implement, and an organization of the same name founded by a broad coalition of Black Oakland political and cultural leaders and activists led by Marvin X and Lower Bottom Playaz theater group founding director Ayodele Nzinga. The BAMBD-CDC works to implement a vision guided by five organizing pillars: Housing, Commerce, Arts & Culture, Online Cultural Archive, and Vital Human Services, to be advanced through "vigilant organizing, development of infrastructure, and the creation of mechanisms for stewardship and advocacy." Initially called the Black Business and Arts District, the inclusion of the words "Black Arts Movement" came at the insistence of the community leaders to draw a direct connection to the national and global movement for Black empowerment centered on artistic expression (see A Tale of Two Visions, below).

Despite official designation, the Black Arts Movement Business District is not visually apparent to Oaklanders. Marvin X has called for Pan-African flags to fly throughout the district: "I have called for the Red, Black and Green flag to fly up and down the Black Arts Movement Business District along the 14th Street corridor, downtown Oakland. Saluting the flag should help us regain our mental equilibrium and make others, including police, recognize we are a nation of people and must be respected as such. I often give the example of the gay/lesbian flag that flies down Market Street in San Francisco as one goes toward the gay/lesbian community. By the time one gets to the  community, one gets the feeling that we must have respect for this community and not engage in homophobic language and behavior. It should and must be the same in the BAM Business District. This must be a sacred space that we must respect. And this vibration must spread throughout our community" (See Marvin X Letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Shaff, below).



Official site

City of Oakland

Facebook page

KQED article

East Bay Times article

A Tale Of Two Visions: Oakland's Downtown Black Business And Arts District

Marvin X Letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Shaff

Launch event

Black Arts Movement bibliography