For every lesson learned from recent elections stands one compelling, overriding truth: civic engagement in the 21st century matters. To preserve, protect, defend and define America’s representative democracy, it is vital that citizens of all ages learn and listen, converse and consider, activate and participate.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center was founded by Oakland community organizers responsible for what was the first and largest Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march and rally on the west coast. After years of organizing major region-wide commemorations of Dr. King’s life and work, leadership from that body determined that an organization dedicated to carrying out the principles which guided Dr. King, would provide valuable community uplift in the nettlesome task of navigating impacts of race divides, poverty, and violence affecting schools and communities (1995).
The activists organized busloads of East Bay community members who traveled to Sacramento and testified on a bill creating a state sanctioned center dedicated to the Life and Legacy of Dr. King, civic engagement, youth, and nonviolence. The legislation was written by then State Assemblymember Barbara Lee, and enjoyed the support of Governor Pete Wilson.
A later Memorandum of Understanding articulated the By Laws and Articles of Incorporation for the Freedom Center, and was signed by representatives of the City of Oakland, the East Bay Regional Park District, the Port of Oakland, the California State Coastal Conservancy, the March & Rally Committee and the Oakland City Council and State Assembly Members (2001).
The Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center shares a longstanding partnership with the Peralta Community Colleges District (PCCD), and is housed at Merritt College at 12500 Campus Drive, Oakland, CA Building D187. The mailing address is at PCCD headquarters, 333 East 8th Street, Oakland CA 94606.
The Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center collaborates with educational, faith-based and community–based initiatives to advance youth and family civic engagement, ethical leadership, and economic and educational equity through personal transformation and direct action in the East Bay Region’s most vulnerable high-poverty communities.
The Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center participates in strategic partnerships and collaborations, incorporating experiences, advice, and funding from various sources and networks. A partial list of current partners follows.
- Alameda County Office of Education
- Alameda County Offices of Supervisors Keith Carson and Nate Miley
- Alameda Labor Council
- Alameda Unified School District
- Barrios Family Trust
- Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
- Blaisdell’s Business Products
- California State Legislature
- California State University, Fresno
- City of Oakland
- Clorox Foundation
- Comerica Bank
- Council on Public Legal Education, Washington
- Crescent Porter Hale Foundation
- East Bay Community Foundation
- East Bay Regional Park District
- Ending Childhood Poverty California Campaign
- Faith and Politicis Institute
- Gandhi King Global Initiative
- Gilead Sciences
- Institute for Community Leadership
- Jack O’Dell Education Center
- Kaiser Permanente
- League of Women Voters, Oakland and California
- Merritt College
- Mills College
- National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Oakland
- Peace Garden, Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, CSU Fresno
- Peralta Community College District
- Pierce County Labor Council
- Port of Oakland
- Power of Democracy
- Quinault Indian Nation
- Stanford University Martin Luther King Jr Research and Education Institute, Dr. Clayborne Carson
- Toyota Foundation
- UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland
- Union Institute and University
- Wells Fargo Foundation
- Women’s March, Oakland
- Various school districts, schools and community based organizations!