The Black Panther Party (BPP) got its start in West Oakland during the 1960s. More than 50 years later, a mural lauding the revolutionary civil rights group has—at last—taken shape. Artists Refa Senay and Batsh Lo are working together to create the piece, which can be seen at 14th Street and Peralta.
“It's the first Black Panther Party mural in Oakland to be painted by black people,” reports East Bay Express.
While many of the group’s history happened here—ranging from the free breakfast program to hosting its headquarters at one time—a dearth of tributes exist in the area for the BPP.
Senay and Lo’s work features a blue-hued background, with portraits of Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, as well as “a portrait of two rank-and-file Panther members, one who holds paper grocery bags, emblematic of the party's free breakfast program.”
Located between Sav Mor Liquors and Sunrise Laundry, this isn’t the first mural to grace this particular wall. Two prior artistic attempts proved less than stellar, fizzling out with the community.
First, a painting showcasing a pack of canines (some crucified) with spiked collars made an appearance. Following that, a mural of a black woman on her back above the words "Lower Bottom” appeared. Neither mural reflected the West Oakland neighborhood. (The latter piece egregiously left off the S in the Lower Bottoms neighborhood name.)
According to East Bay Express, those works were painted by white artists, outsiders with no connection to the community.
“It's important for African people to control their visual landscape in their neighborhoods,” Senay, whose parents were Black Panthers and who lives in the area, told East Bay Express. “Anything that we do not control can be used as a weapon against us.”
- West Oakland Finally Gets a Black Panther Mural [East Bay Express]