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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oakland, CA Aug. 12, 2013
National Historic West Oakland Landmark, the Marcus Garvey building/ Liberty Hall, Saved by Community Organization
As of Aug. 7th 2013, community based non-profits and private investors have saved the The Marcus Garvey building, also known as Liberty Hall. The Marcus Garvey building is an A-1+ rated National Historic Landmark, and is at located at 1485 8th Street in West Oakland.
The Save the Liberty Hall campaign helped raise $375,000 in 9 months to purchase the building from Citi Property Holdings, Inc.(an affiliate of Citibank). Citi had threatened to evict nonprofit service provider Overcomers With Hope (OWH) from the building after foreclosing on the previous owner.
Through a series of townhall meetings, community outreach, social media blasts and a change.org petition, the grassroots organizers of the campaign gained the support of several organizations. As a result, we received legal transactional consultation from Hanson Bridgett via the city of Oakland, as well as funds from non-profit community organizations in Alameda County. Additional support came from Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum (a non-profit program supporting investor relations with entrepreneurs in underserved communities), OMY Enterprises (community outreach, fundraising and public relations), and Timothy Y. Fong, Attorney at Law (foreclosure defense counseling).
Saving the building allows OWH, alow new partnerships, to provide programs in Liberty Hall. Now that the building is secure from foreclosure, OWH and its partner organizations can secure funding for much needed building repairs and upgrades. The Marcus Garvey Building will continue to host organizations that serve the community of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The building has been servicing the community for over 100 years, operating by and for the people. In the past, the building has provided a meeting place for many crucial community entities. For example, in the past it was Post 188 of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A) and was the former home of the Black Pullman Porters, Father Divine, and Jubilee West, Inc.. It was the first dollar store in West Oakland. Currently, it is the home of Overcomers With Hope (OWH), a non-profit organization that trains at risk youth in Television/Digital Arts Media Production and the West Oakland Community Information/ Resource Center. The new organizations that have come to the building as a result of the campaign are Healthy Communities, Inc, and the Black Nurses Association. Healthy Communities is a faith-based, non-profit organization.
The successful campaign started on December 12, 2012,with the specific goal of purchasing the building and keeping services provided by the West Oakland Community Information/ Resource Center open. West Oakland Community Information/Resource Center organizes referrals for jobs and training, food, utilities restoration, housing search and financial assistance. Through a collective of local residents and businesses owners, the campaign was able to increase local, regional and nationwide awareness of the Marcus Garvey/Liberty Hall building in West Oakland. Grassroots organizing and a strong regional media campaign resulted in a letter from Citi on December 21, 2012. Citi offered the property for sale at $375,000 and gave an extension to the eviction deadline. The extension gave the campaign time to organize a fundraiser on January 13, 2013, which allowed artists throughout California the opportunity to support the cause through entertainment.
It also gave organizers time to find transactional legal counsel (pro bono law firm support was provided by Hansen Bridgett via the City of Oakland), a real estate broker and a primary investor willing to support the project. Together, we were able to successfully negotiate a deal that saved the building.
Although the campaign to save the Marcus Garvey building/ Liberty Hall is successful, it marks the beginning of plans that include upgrading the building with seismic retrofitting, installation of a solar panel electrical grid, and a ramp up of the information center that will help this underserved community have access to job information. Due to the structure of the deal, it provides a unique opportunity for non-profits, businesses and community organizations to work within the A-1+ rated, National Historic Landmark to serve the community. In addition, we expect to create new programs to make positive change within the city of Oakland.