photo CC SA-BY Our Oakland

The Oakland Mother of the Year Award is given annually to honor people in the community who "symbolize the finest traditions of 'motherhood'." The award was begun by the Oakland Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1954. It is sponsored by the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department, and a plaque with the winner's name is placed on a special walkway in the Morcom Rose Garden.

The names in the list show the trends in usage of women's names. As noted in this book, ten of the first 16 women on the list are identified only by their husband's name (e.g., Mrs. Donald A. Pearce in 1956), and five are also identified as married women, with only one addressed as Dr. , while many of the recent winners list only their own name without indication of marital status.

2015 Award Information

Oakland Parks and Recreation is pleased to announce that Marilyn Washington Harris has been selected as Oakland’s 2015 Mother of the Year. The Oakland mother of four is the founder of the nonprofit Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence, which has served more than 20,000 family members and friends affected by violence. The non-profit provides immediate and sustained support to the families of homicide victims through help, hope and healing. “Marilyn is a truly extraordinary Oaklander,” stated Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney who provided a letter of support. “It is so fitting that we award her with this recognition. Her maternal nature, genuine spirit and passion to end violence in our city are remarkable.”

1. The individual must be a resident of Oakland
2. The individual must have contributed to improving the quality of life for the people of Oakland - through home, work, community service, volunteer efforts or combination thereof.
3. The individual should be exemplary - someone who serves as an appropriate role model for people of all ages and backgrounds to emulate.
4. The individual should be someone for whom at least two letters of support can be provided.
5. The individual must be nominated by a business, community group, professional association, government agency or services-related organizations.


plaques for recent award recipients
photo CC SA-BY Our Oakland

Year Recipient__________________ notes
2022 Frances Bienati Ann's Cafe
2021 Lakisha Young Oakland REACH
2020 Harriet Schlader Woodminster Musicals
2019 Kemba Shakur Urban Releaf
2018 Ruth Beckford *  
2017 Malia Lusia Latu Saulala Maxwell Park Neighborhood Council and community volunteer (see East Bay Times article)
2016 Camisha Fatimah Gentry peace ambassador
2015 Marilyn Washington Harris founder of the nonprofit Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence
2014 Lisa Klein
2013 Annalee Allen  
2012 Lisa Lemus Wood Park, OMCA docent (see Tribune article)
2011 Toni Locke long-time editor of the MacArthur Metro
2010 Barbara Newcombe * Cleveland Cascade (see Oakland Local article, via
2009 Anne Woodell * second woman on the Oakland Parks and Recreation Commission, founded Friends of the Oakland Parks and Recreation
2008 Ellen Wyrick-Parkinson * business owner, community advocate in West Oakland (see East Bay Times obituary)
2007 Collen Brown  
2006 Beatrice Wong * Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Asian Library, Chinese American Citizen's Alliance (see city resolution .PDF)
2005 Naomi Schiff Oakland Heritage Alliance
2004 Agnes Ramirez-Grace  
2003 Lorraine Smith *  
2002 Caroline Kim  
2001 Kathleen Cottom  
2000 Keisha Pierre-Wright  
1999 Dollie Rambo *  
1998 Resonja Willoughby  
1997 Mattie B. Jones  
1996 Barbara Schaaf mother of councilmember Libby Schaaf
1995 Nadine De LaTorre  
1994 Diane Burr  
1993 Marilynn O'Hare * long-time volunteer at Children's Fairyland
1992 Mae Upshaw  
1991 Virginia Chen *  
1990 Alla Seulberger *  
1989 Mary Ann Wright *  
1988 Nancy Blackman  
1987 Pearl Pritchard  
1986 Shirley Green *  
1985 Cecila Ho *  
1984 Martell Merreweather *  
1983 Jean Moorhead *  
1982 Virginia Rose *  
1981 Virginia Lawler *  
1980 Irene Carter *  
1979 Lucy Newell *  
1978 Winnifred Rovetta *  
1977 Alta Diamond *  
1976 Aileen McCosker *  
1975 Rita Roundtree *  
1974 Mae Monroe *  
1973 Margaret Bezaitis *  
1972 Rose Luey *  
1971 Mary Kay Horsell  
1970 Aleta Slater *  
1969 Eva Jeffery * Mother of 7, wife of Rev. Earl Jeffrey, member of three PTAs, honorary life member of California State PTA; East Oakland citizens groups on housing issues (see 1970 article 5-10-70 Trib.pdf)
1968 Joan Sparks  
1967 Violet Unland *  
1966 Phyllis Walls *  
1965 Gladys Copland *  
1964 Madeline Sunderland *  
1963 Betty Martin * see Cold case, Oakland: Never an arrest in Oakland double-murder of mother, daughter in 1964 :-(
1962 Allene Graves *  
1961 Almarie Walker  
1960 Dr. Mary Burch *  
1959 Gladys Williams * plaque: Mrs. Alfred J. Williams (see 1959 article)
1958 Norma Standish-Barrows plaque: Mrs. Miles K. Standish
1957 Helen Glatze * plaque: Mrs. Albert C. Glatze
1956 Helen Pearce * plaque: Mrs. Donald A. Pearce
1955 Ruth. T Murphy *  
1954 Florence E. Bryant * NAACP, California State Association of Colored Women, Women's Auxiliary of Parks Chapel AME, March of Dimes, National Safety Council, Rhododendron Society (see 1970 article 5-10-70 Trib.pdf)

* = recipient is deceased

past honorees at the 2013 event, from Jean Quan's newsletter

Links and References