Toni Adams 

(Toni Adams is a founding member of the Oakland Convention & Visitor Bureau.Former Chief of Staff to Mayor Lionel Wilson)

You could live/work anywhere - Why do you choose to be in Oakland?

I'm all Oakland.  I was born at Kaiser Hospital and attended Oakland Public Schools and Mills College.  My mother grew up in Oakland and my grandpa spent most of his life here also. 

When we think of famous black Oakland residents who have made an impact on culture – who do you think of? What impact have they had on your success? 

Former Mayor Lionel J. Wilson is the one that immediately comes to mind.  Lionel was the first African American man elected as Mayor of Oakland and is largely responsible for many of the improvements in downtown Oakland and the neighborhoods.  Lionel attended public schools in Oakland before attending college and Hastings Law School.  Prior to his election he was a Superior Court Judge. When he decided to run for Mayor, he had to tell then Gov. Jerry Brown that he would not become the first African American on the CA Supreme Court.  He was totally committed to Oakland and its growth and development.

What famous or historic figure/leader do you wish you could have dinner with? What current topics in Oakland’s fabric do you think you would discuss?

Without question it would be Pres. Barack Obama.  I'd love to show him the real Oakland and dispel so many of the negatives that are out there.  I was a little disappointed when he mentioned Oakland in his State of the Union address in a not so complimentary way.  He used us as an example of crime in urban centers. I'd love to take him on a tour of the Oakland I know.

What do you think Oakland’s future looks like? Can you identify a young person who you think will lead our community in the future?

Unfortunately I see the continued gentrification of Oakland.  This means a real loss of the diversity that I know as Oakland.  I see housing costs rising such that even middle income residents will be forced out.  That saddens me. An up and coming legislator is Tony Thurmond.  He is new to the CA State Assembly, bright, and one to watch.

If you had a perfect day in Oakland – what would you do?

I'd begin as I do most mornings, with a 6 am walk around Lake Merritt. After leaving the lake I'd head for Active Sport Club and to Specialties for Coffee and Peanut Butter Toast with a good friend.  After breakfast, I’d shop along Piedmont Avenue, College Avenue and the Montclair shops.  After an active morning of shopping and exercise, I’d settle in at Hopscotch for their fabulous chicken.  And no day in Oakland would be complete without a southern gourmet meal Pican in Uptown.

 

Dexter Davis

(Dexter Davis is a film producer and distributor and the founder and CEO of D Street Media Group L.L.C.)

You could live/work anywhere - Why do you choose to be in Oakland?

Oakland has always enjoyed a rich and inclusive history for African Americans and those who felt empowered to stand up for their beliefs and human rights. I couldn't think of another city in the Bay Area that I'd rather be and with Oakland experiencing a renaissance and growth spurt, there are many opportunities to be created and seized upon.

When we think of famous black Oakland residents who have made an impact on culture – who do you think of? What impact have they had on your success?

Difficult to name just one person out of so many who were born or lived in Oakland and has had an impact on culture, but I believe representative Barbara Lee exemplifies the spirit of Oakland when she courageously voted against authorization of use of force following the September 11, 2001 attacks and was the only member in either House to do so.  That kind of independence of mind and courage inspires me to make decisions that may often seem unpopular at the time, but in the end may be the right thing to do. 

What famous or historic figure/leader do you wish you could have dinner with? What current topics in Oakland's fabric do you think you would discuss?

I believe Huey P. Newton would be my first choice. With the current state of the country and issues that face African American young men in the United States, I would be interested in knowing what Mr. Newton would make of having an African American President and nearly 40% of African American young men unemployed or not in higher education.

What do you think Oakland's future looks like? Can you identify a young person who you think will lead our community in the future?

Oakland's future is very bright. My hope is that it continues to be an inclusive city and the opportunities that are currently presenting themselves would be afforded to of all its residence. I don't know any young people personally who I think will lead our community, but if history is any indication, I know that there's an Oprah Winfrey, a Kamala Harris, a Miles Davis or even a Barack Obama, are out there waiting their turn.

If you had a perfect day in Oakland – what would you do?

Spending time with friends at Pican's restaurant.