Press Release: Oakland's Black New Deal Study Moves Forward

Date Posted: May 16th, 2023 @ 8:24 AM
Last Updated: May 25th, 2023 @ 8:58 AM

Tuesday, May 16th


District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife Motions The First Expansive Study Of Its Kind To Assess The On-Going Harms On Oakland’s Black Community From Past Discriminatory Public Policy

Oakland, CA - During the May 16, 2023 meeting of the Oakland City Council, elected officials will vote to authorize a study brought forth by Councilmember Carroll Fife to research the ongoing effects of public policy decisions of redlining, displacement through eminent domain, and urban renewal on the Black community in Oakland, and to assess ways to redress the harms caused through a “Black New Deal.”

The Black New Deal (BND) is a framework that seeks to ameliorate the multitude of harms that have directly impacted generations of West Oakland’s Black residents as well as the entire city at-large. This research, and the data-focused policies it will inform, are centered in the following seven areas: housing, economics, education, arts and culture, environment, public safety and health. The study will be led by Oakland-bred Dr. Brandi Summers of BluSummers, LLC, an Associate Professor of UC Berkeley’s Department of Geography with support from the renowned consulting firm Mason Tillman Associate, Ltd.

In a statement, Councilmember Fife:

We often look at today’s social challenges as urgent crises disconnected from the past; disconnected from history, but we are the cumulative embodiment of what came before. The economic disparities we see today are largely the result of decades of publicly-funded social welfare and investment into white communities at the expense and explicit harm to Black residents. As a result, Black Oaklanders had far fewer opportunities to accumulate wealth, and to this day, have lower household incomes, less access to stable housing, and face a myriad of other issues that negatively impact their quality of life in this city. My goal is to document this connection and create comprehensive policy solutions that address the harms of the past in order to move the city forward for the greater good.”

In a statement, Dr. Summers:

“Understanding the enduring impact of public policy decisions and actions on the Black community in Oakland is not just an academic exercise; it is a moral imperative. Only by delving further into these issues and assessing the harms caused can we begin to chart a course towards redress and justice. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to confront the past, acknowledge the present, and forge a path that uplifts and empowers every member of our community for the future.”


The study follows a series of actions by the councilmember, the city, and constituents:

  • March 2020 - Community organizations presented the Black New Deal (BND) Covid-19 Project to the Oakland City Council to address the disparate impacts of the pandemic on Oakland’s Black population due to pre-existing systemic conditions

  • July 2020 - before being elected to Council, Carroll Fife expanded the scope of the BND Covid-19 project to address the overall disparities that led to the devastating pandemic outcomes and made it a part of her 2020 campaign platform

  • The Black New Deal (BND) Symposium, February 2022 - The District 3 office brought together community members, scholars, business-owners, and more to discuss the on-going impacts of structural racism and what opportunities to thrive could look like.

  • Informational Report Requested May 2022 - District 3 asked the City Administrator to present on the social and economic impact of financing relationships, housing, zoning and related municipal policies that created the Cypress Freeway, the 7th Street Post Office, the West Oakland BART Station and all redlined areas of Council District 3.

  • Report Presented June 28, 2022 - The Community and Economic Development Committee staff made clear that there has been an extraordinary level of extraction and dispossession from Black communities in Oakland, with West Oakland as the epicenter of harm.

  • Staff recommended that the City contract outside services for additional research and development of impactful policies to address the on-going impact.

As such, Councilmember Carroll Fife seeks to advance this work through a significant new stage of research and development that will lead to concrete policy recommendations for the City of Oakland and constituents to organize towards creating greater equity in Oakland, with related benefits of safer and healthier living conditions for all.