Black Meetings and Tourism

May/June 2014

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35 B M & T ••• May/June 2014 ••• Kim Bardakian, Visit Oakland's director of PR & Partnerships, stresses the diversity of the city. "I love this city," said Bardakian. "I love the diversity of the city. Everywhere you look you see people of different ethnicities, races, sexual persuasions and beliefs. It's a pretty cool city." Part of Oakland's revitalization will include bringing in top name retailers, some- thing this cosmopolitan city is surprisingly lacking. Fred Blackwell, Oakland's asst. city administrator, said the city is making a 'big push' to get prime retailers into the area. "Oakland has had a $1 billion leakage because people go to San Francisco to shop," said Blackwell who describes the city as dynamic, diverse, soulful and cul- turally rich. "We're in conversa- tions now with project developers." • STUFF TO DO • There are so many things to do and see in Oakland. It's hard to decide what to do first. Visit the USS Potomac, take a gondola ride along Lake Merritt, stroll through Grand Lake Farmers Market, tour Fruitvale Village, go to Chabot Space & Science Center, the Oakland Zoo, Children's Fairy- land, Oakland Aviation Museum or the Oakland Museum of California. The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) brings together collections of art, history, and natural science under one roof to tell the extraordin ary sto- ries of California and its people. With more than 1.9 million objects, OMCA is a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California's dynamic cultural and environmental heritage. The African American Library & Museum, helmed by Rick Moss (Chief Curator and Director of the African American Museum & Library at Oakland (AAMLO) since July 2001), is a museum and non-circulating library dedicated to pre- serving the history and experiences of African-Americans in Northern California and the Bay Area. It's also committed to the discovery, interpretation and sharing of cul- tural experiences of African-Americans in California and the West for present and future generations. The more than 160 col- lections in the archives contain the diaries of prominent families, pioneers, churches, social and political organizations. Freedom's Journal, the Liberator, California Voice, Sun Reporter and the Black Panther newspa- pers are available on microfilm. www.oak- museum-library-oakland For arts and entertainment there is the Fox Theater, The Crucible, Paramount Theatre, Oracle Arena & Coliseum. Check out the Jack London Square Night Market. On the first Friday of each month, just moments from Oakland's Art Walk, is the newly launched night market in Jack London Square, featuring food and crafts by local artists and producers. Entertainment doesn't get any better than Yoshi's, located in Jack London Square. It's a legendary jazz club featuring live music and delicious Japanese cuisine. It has long had a reputation for being one of the most impor- tant music venues in the country. Open seven nights a week, Yoshi's has hosted some of the biggest names in jazz, blues, R&B, Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban and more. • TO GRUB • Called Caribbean Soul in Oakland, Sarah Kirnon's MISS OLLIE'S neighborhood restaurant in Old Oakland is known for its home cooking. It's affordable and inspired by Kirnon's grandmother's cooking in Barbados. Open for lunch and dinner, just say yum to the classic Caribbean cuisine. Very affordable. "I feel a sense of community here, said Kirnon, who was born in London and grew up in Barbados. "I moved here to live in a Black neighborhood. I wanted to make food from the Diaspora because those dishes have connection to the Caribbean and the South." Michael LeBlanc is the founder of PICAN RESTAURANT: A Taste of The South, a classy, upscale restaurant with fantastic fare has a friendly atmosphere. The food is truly exceptional. The website describes it as an eatery with 'Tantalizing aromas, rich tastes, stimulating colors, layered textures, envelop- ing sounds. The tradition of the South. The sophistication of California cuisine. Vibrant cosmo- politan energy. LeBlanc says Picán captures his vision of sharing the African- American, Southern cultural experi- ence through food, beverage, art and music — the tastes, scents, sights, sounds, textures of the South — a dream this New Orleans native has carried with him for decades. "I have a hard t ime putting into words what I feel about the restau- rant and what I feel about Oakland," said LeBlanc, who adds his signature dish is the restaurant's fried chicken. "I've been all around the world. I've been to Ireland, Scotland, Hong Kong, everywhere, but I wanted to live in Oakland. There is something about it. This is where I want to be. It's the weather, the views and the people. There is no other place as diverse as Oakland. The level of social consciousness is high." Full-service bar and lounge with Southern Twists and classic standards, alongside the most comprehensive Bourbon selection in the Bay Area –– single barrel; small batch; blended.' The Picán philosophy is simple: A close-knit community of food, beverage and fun-loving folks. http://www.picanrestau- Tanya Holland's BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN is a West Oakland eatery that is popular and usually packed with customers who come from near and far. Breakfast has never tasted better. The restaurant has beauti- ful, fresh flavors. The fried chicken is popular Sailing on Lake Merritt Legendary jazz club Yoshi's

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