Friday, September 18, 2009
Just Cause Oakland Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Tenants Together member organization, Just Cause Oakland, celebrated its 10th anniversary last night at an extraordinary celebration titled: A Tribute to Justice / Un Tributo a la Justicia. The historic Sweets Ballroom in downtown Oakland, where the event was held was packed with folks paying tribute to justice and to this amazing organization that is building a powerful voice for Oakland's low-income tenants, workers, and communities of color.
The event was emceed by Adrienne Brown of the Ruckus Society and Joel Tena of the East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) and featured an incredible line up of honorees, speakers and entertainment including the Rev. Jesse Jackson as a last minute addition, James Rucker of ColorOfChange.org, musicians Kev Choice and Las Bomberas de la Bahia, poet Aimee Suzara, and Santero on the turntables.
Just Cause Oakland member Audrey Miles
Maria Poblet, Co-Director, St. Peters Housing Committee and to her right, Just Cause Oakland Steering Committee member Charlene Wedderburn
Attendees were treated to a moving retrospective through oral histories and multimedia of Just Cause's work over the last ten years including its historic campaign in 2002 to pass the city's Just Cause Eviction Protections ordinance. Since that signature victory, Just Cause has worked with hundreds of residents over the years to stop unfair eviction in their buildings and homes. In 2003 Just Cause fought to protect 50 units of low-income senior housing in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza and were able to get all the units turned over to a non-profit to remain permanently affordable. In 2008 Just Cause successfully fought to keep the California Hotel and other affordable housing buildings open and in that same year fought hard against Prop 98, the landlord-funded statewide attack on rent control.
Certainly, a highlight of the evening was the Reverend Jesse Jackson's appearance which had been announced only a day before the event. The Reverend was very warmly received with a standing ovation and he kept the crowd on its feet throughout his brief speech, leading us in several spirited chants including "Housing is a Human Right!" and "Restructure loans, don't repossess homes!"
The evening's program promised a "Big Announcement" and indeed the exciting news was revealed that Just Cause Oakland and San Francisco's St. Peter's Housing Committee / El Comite de Vivienda San Pedro will be merging into one "fierce" transbay organization. As the St. Peter's website explains, the organizations are "inspired by a shared vision of deepening solidarity between African-American and Latino communities in San Francisco and Oakland, and contributing to the development of a vibrant grassroots movement."
We congratulate Just Cause Oakland on an extraordinary first 10 years and we congratulate Just Cause and its sister organization St. Peter's on their bold new venture together!
Poet Aimee Suzara
James Rucker, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org
Reverend Jackson with Tenants Together Program Coordinator, Gabe Treves