We’re excited to bring the Oakland Progressives Party + Townie Awards back in-person to celebrate and honor our local social justice leaders. For over a decade, the Townie Awards have recognized those who’ve stood out when it comes to championing racial, economic and environmental justice in the Town. This year, we’ve added the new category of Culture Maker Townie in recognition of the vital role that art and culture holds in moving minds and hearts. We believe that we cannot build a more inclusive and powerful democracy without art and culture.

Townie of the Year: Reparations for Black Students

The Reparations for Black Students campaign is a parent, student and educator led campaign that organizes to stop the harm done to Oakland Black Students and their families within OUSD and advocate for the repair of the harm through deep investment in resources that Black students and families need to be physically, emotionally, mentally and academically thriving in Oakland. Their organizing won the Reparations for Black Students Resolution (2021) and is critical in the campaign to end school closures. Learn more and support the movement at www.reparationsforblackstudents.org

Local Business Townie: Wahpepah’s Kitchen

Wahpepah’s Kitchen is the vision of Crystal Wahpepah, an enrolled member of the Kickapoo nation of Oklahoma. She was born and raised in Oakland, California, on Ohlone land, surrounded by a multi-tribal, tight-knit, urban Native community. Crystal’s objectives for Wahpepah’s Kitchen are threefold:

  1. to acknowledge that we live on stolen land; and
  2. how that acknowledgement connects to the reclamation of Native food ways (food sovereignty); as well as
  3. to educate communities and organizations on the health benefits of Native food ways using the knowledge passed onto her. 

Visit Wahpepah’s Kitchen at 3301 East 12th St Suite #133 in Oakland. Get your appetite going by viewing the rotating seasonal menu at www.wahpepahskitchen.com/seasonal-restaurant-menu.

Government Official Townie: in memory of Sup. Wilma Chan

Last year our community tragically lost Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan who represented District 3 which includes the Oakland neighborhoods of Chinatown, Fruitvale, San Antonio, and Jack London; the unincorporated communities of San Lorenzo and Hayward Acres; and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. She was the Chair of the Health Committee and ALL IN, a multi-stakeholder initiative to end poverty in Alameda County.

Sup. Chan started her career after organizing the prevention of closures of child development centers in OUSD. From 2000-2006, she served in the CA State Assembly where she became the first woman and first Asian American to be Majority Leader and led on strengthening public health protections. Prior to that, she served four years on the Oakland Board of Education (1990-94) and then became the first Asian American elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors (1994-2000). She returned to the Board of Supervisors in 2010 where she championed anti-poverty programs that center a caring economy, and uplifted the voices of those impacted by social inequities. 

Sup. Chan stood out for her work launching campaigns that provided a platform for community to collaborate with her office. In 2012, she launched the Human Impact Budget Project – a collection of stories chronicling the impact of budget cuts to Alameda County residents. Throughout her tenure, she continued to be a staunch advocate for directing county resources to our working-class communities. Always working to improve conditions to help residents thrive, in 2021 she piloted Food is Medicine (AB 368), a program to treat, reverse, and prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and depression through improved nutrition via food prescription. 

Sup. Chan is survived by two grown children and two grandchildren.

Culture Maker Townie: Black Cultural Zone

Since 2014, the East Oakland Black Cultural Zone Collaborative Partners has worked with a coalition of residents, government agencies, churches, and grassroots organizing and community groups to help keep Black folks in East Oakland. Through their strategy of building power, securing land, and directing more dollars to community driven projects they can secure a foothold in East Oakland that finally allows our neighborhoods to thrive.

We are excited to honor the Black Cultural Zone with a Townie in the new category of Culture Maker. Their work is essential in the movement for the reclamation of progressive voices in Deep East Oakland. We want to honor and acknowledge the years of work and love led by the Eastside Art Alliance and several other community organizations that went into the creation of the Black Cultural Zone (learn more). Their amazing community building and investment in Deep East Oakland is an inspiring example of what community can accomplish when we make choices centering love and liberation, and honoring Black voices and power. If you haven’t checked out their Akoma Market and roller skating rink, make plans to do so soon!