What is 510Day?
510Day is a day of cultural resilience bringing together Oakland’s diverse communities; showcasing creative wellness; and offering visions for our collective future in each neighborhood. 510Day was Inspired by 415DAY!!!! The Village In Oakland is one of the founding members and producers of 510Day.
Since 2016, residents across Oakland have come out to celebrate the annual “#510Day” Protest Party at Lake Merritt. This free, public, inter-generational, grassroots community event is dedicated to the celebration of Oakland’s history and culture in the face of the rapidly growing housing crisis. Displacement out of Oakland or onto the streets is not the only by-product of gentrification, as newcomers to Oakland have been increasingly responding to the culture here in hostile, dangerous and potentially deadly ways particularly to Black and Brown residents over the past decade. Hanging out with friends, celebrating our cultures, breaking bread with fambam in public, and enjoying the sunshine has become an act of resistance and resilience in these times of re-colonizations.
The conditions that brought about 510Day:
Oakland is the land of the Ohlone people, the birthplace of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the city where Bruce Lee once lived, & where Cesar Chavez first started organizing. It was Tupac’s spiritual home. The home of Soulbeat, Festival at the Lake, the East Bay Dragons, Everett&Jones, Flints, Ricky Henderson, Marshawn Lynch, Gary Payton, Dru Down, Too $hort, & 3XKraxy. Oakland is a community where Black, White, Asian & Pacific Islander, Native American, & LatinX people have lived together for generations. Classic cars, motorcycle clubs, grilling at parks, block-parties, dance-battles, aerosol art, scrapper-bikes, cumbia, hip-hop, funk, soca, reggae, classic oldies, street vendors, taco trucks, & Black cowboys are part of the rich cultural mosaic that makes Oakland so distinct. Oakland, California is our hometown. It is a city with an extraordinary past, a legacy of radical activism, & a rich, diverse culture all its own. But we live in an era where the identity, heart, &soul of our city are on the line.
Over the past several years, Oakland has experienced a wave of gentrification & displacement characterized by a rapidly rising cost of living, skyrocketing housing prices, & the criminalization of BIPOC communities & our cultural practices.
For those of us who were born & raised here, this wave has had devastating & heartbreaking consequences. We have watched as our friends & family members moved away. We have seen some of our neighborhoods become unrecognizable. We have witnessed many of our families & friends become unhoused, the likes of which we have never seen. And we have seen a rise in the criminalization of Black&Brown people, increasingly made to feel unwelcome in the city in which they grew up.
Oakland has been a refuge for poor, working class and other marginalized BIPOC folks from around the U.S. and the world. Many of us who were born and raised and gentrified out of Frisco or Brooklyn or Los Angeles and other urban areas, and have made Oakland our new home. Many of us have become part of the Oakland community rather than trying to recolonize, criminalize, displace and erase the existing community.
In the same breath, there are people like LIbby Schaff who is from Montclair or Kamala Harris who was born in Berkeley and raised in Canada – but they both claim they are from the Town, only to push their political careers and re-colonize Oakland and other urban centers..
In April 2018, Oakland made national headlines when a white woman called the police on a Black family for using a charcoal grill on a Sunday afternoon at Lake Merritt. The woman’s racist actions sparked national outrage. The Oakland community responded with 2 major events, “510 Day” and “BBQ’N While Black” which drew numbers into the thousands and sent a strong message of resistance. The success of the events were evidence that the spirit of Oakland is still very much intact, and the people born and raised in Oakland need a festival and space like 510Day in the midst of mass displacement and racial and cultural criminalization. This festival is a public statement that “We Still Here” and we belong here.
With the criminalization & erasure of our peoples & cultures, a movement to reclaim public space is necessary to affirm the expression, recognition & celebration of our diverse communities being displaced.
Reclaiming & asserting our right to exist and “just be” in public space is also fundamental to make the political & economic changes needed to realize our vision for an inclusive & equitable Oakland. This festival is a gateway for Oaklanders facing displacement to enter and stay connected to the fight for the real changes that are going to make it possible for BIPOC communities remain in Oakland.
We are also clear that in this moment, gentrification and displacement are disproportionately impacting African American communities. Black people, Black culture, &Black communities are the underpinning of Oakland’s history, culture, & identity.
Gentrification threatens to erase the history, culture, and identity of Oakland in just a matter of years. 510Day celebrates an inclusive and equitable Oakland, one which embraces the future &stays true to our past. We envision an Oakland that continues to be racially diverse, family friendly, &rich with the culture &tradition of activism. 510Day embodies this vision &spirit.
The body that organizes the event is the 510Day Organizing Committee – a collective of grassroots organizations, movers, shakers, culture makers and keepers, and business people . We have come together united in a rich and diverse history and cultures to fight for an Oakland that is centered in the lives, needs and aspirations of Oaklands working class and low income BIPOC communities who are becoming displaced thru gentrification. We all participate in the planning and implementation of the festival, and share responsibilities and roles for the festival. Founding members are The VIllage in Oakland, The Lumpia Lady, Leon DNas Sykes, Jordan Warden. Community Organizations that have joined the organizing committee over the years include Young Oakland, CURYJ, Young Women’s Freedom Center, Oakland’s Kids First, The East Oakland Collective, The Real Oakland, B.L.A.C.K., Urban Peace Movement, 67 Suenos, and The Town Experience. If you want to participate in 510Day call 510-355-7010 for more info.