Featured Black Gold Storytellers
Najee Amaranth is a father, cultural advocate and co-founder of Oakland Mind, a creative collective. Through his collective, he has created spaces for artists, brought awareness to human trafficking, and even taught hip hop at several colleges. He utilizes hip hop art to explore what a culture can be and uses knowledge to raise funds to support sustainable actions within the community.
Kwan Booth is an award winning writer focused on the intersection of media, technology and social justice. His journalism and creative writing have been published in anthologies, journals and news sites including The Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, “CHORUS: a literary mixtape” and “Beyond the Frontier: African American Poets for the 21st Century”. His awards include a Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative journalism, The Editor’s Prize from Saint Mary’s College and two Pushcart Prize nominations for fiction. More info at Boothism.org.
Sarai just finished her Masters Degree in Education from San Francisco State. She is wanting to further understand ways in which cultivating and sharing our own stories increases capacity and excitement for liberatory learning in students of all ages. She is not great at exercise right now but she loves cooking and watching the lizards in the backyard. Sarai is grateful for you and hopes there has been something beautiful about your day. Instagram:
Karla Brundage is a poet, editor, essayist, teacher and beach lover. Recipient of a Fulbright Teacher Exchange she spent a year teaching in Zimbabwe and three years in Cote d’Ivoire where she founded West Oakland to West Africa Poetry Exchange. She is author of two books, Swallowing Watermelons and Mulatta – Not so Tragic co-authored with Allison Francis. Her poetry, short stories and essays can be found in Essential Truths, Konch, Hip Mama, sPARKLE & bLINK.
An Oakland native, vocalist, and culture and wellness advocate, Rashida Chase has always sought ways to integrate instead of compartmentalize her seemingly disparate passions, and believes that music is a healing force and a unifier of people. She recognizes the power of inspiration and creativity that music holds and strives to create experiences that soothe, heal, and inspire her audiences to tap into that power and realize their full selves.
Jeneé Darden is an award-winning journalist, public speaker, mental health advocate and proud Oakland native. She has reported for such outlets as NPR, Time, Ebony, KQED, and The LA Times. She hosts KALW’s arts segment Sights & Sounds, and is also their East Oakland reporter. Check out her documentary “Where is East Oakland?” on Youtube. Jenee also blogs at CocoaFly.com. Her first book is a womanist collection of poetry and essays titled When a Purple Rose Blooms (Nomadic Press). Instagram:
San Francisco Bay Area native Patricia France is a poet and educator. Her writing focuses on memory and overcoming trauma, connections she explores in a series of poems. She is currently researching Afrofuturism and Black empowerment as tools for improving writing education. She appreciates and honors her elders, who have given her strength to keep going forward. Born in Berkeley, Patricia is Richmond and Oakland bred. When not exploring her Bay Area roots and connections in her writing, she can be found tending to her beautiful East Oakland home.
Meres-Sia Gabriel is a best-selling author and creator of the online course “Life-Changing Writing in Five Weeks: Write Your Book, Inspire Others, and Leave Your Mark on the World!” She has performed, taught workshops, and spoken at the Universidad de la Tierra, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Museum of African Diaspora to name a few. Her poetry is presently showcased in the Oakland Museum’s “Black Power” exhibit. You can find Meres-Sia’s book, I Twirl in the Smoke, on Amazon. Ready to write your book? Schedule a discovery call with Meres-Sia at:
Nikita Gibbs-Nolen was born and raised in Oakland, CA. She attended Cal State East Bay and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She later attended Alliant University to obtain a teaching credential and Master’s degree in Education. Her educational journey began in 2003 when she became a substitute in Oakland Unified School District. From 2005-present, she has worked as an Oakland elementary school teacher. She was awarded the Teaching Excellence Award and recognition for her participation in the California Reading and Literature Project. In 2018, She was featured in the Teacher’s of Oakland and The State of Black Education in Oakland’s Narrative Series. Nikita has been a mentor for new teachers and lead teacher since 2008. She is also a teacher Consultant with BAWP.
Amani Jade is a multi-faceted creator born in San Francisco, CA and half of The Oakland Mind. Although her first love was dance, she’s known as a Femcee, poet, and explorer of all things creative. As a teaching artist she blends her passion for art and supporting young people in various artistic, political, and social-emotional capacities. She’s inspired by first time freestylers, cyphers of celebration, and the power of healing through creative expression. Instagram:
Alie Jones is a self-care advocate, writer, artist, and Creole mermaid. She is Co-founder and Director of Black Freighter Press, a revolutionary press committed to the exploration of liberation, using art to transform consciousness. She is a founder of Bodacious Bombshells, a wellness collective in Oakland. Alie is a yoga instructor passionate about centering our breathwork as sacred and hopes to build a legacy of awareness and expression. Alie graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Mills College. She received her MPA from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and BA in Cinematic Arts & Technology from CSU Monterey Bay and a minor in Creative Writing and Social Action. Alie is the host of the podcast called Chit Chat with Aliecat , she explores self-care practices and journeys of self-love in community.
Judy Juanita’s poetry collection, MANHATTAN MY ASS, YOU’RE IN OAKLAND, won the 2021 American Book Award. Her short story collection, THE HIGH PRICE OF FREEWAYS, won the Tartt Fiction Prize 2021 and will be published this July by the University of West Alabama’s Livingston Press. Her debut novel, VIRGIN SOUL, was published by Viking in 2013. She has taught writing at Laney College since 1993.
Tureeda aka ToRead ah, is an award-winning, internationally recognized poet and storyteller. She is known as a Story Medicine Woman. She combines life sciences that seals to reveal holism that heal relationships of body, mind, and spirit via Story poetry and history. She has been published and or performed with Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, Al Young, Amiri & Amini Baraka, Eugene Redmond, The Last Poets, Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton, Audrey Lorde and many more. Instagram:
Cleavon Smith is an award-winning playwright and professor originally from Mississippi. He was awarded a California Arts Council grant to collect stories from Oakland residents about what makes Oakland home. Cleavon lives in Oakland and teaches English at Berkeley City College. He has served as an artist mentor for Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Young Writers of Color Collective. Born at the dawn of Mississippi’s post-Jim Crow experiment, he took to writing as a way of making a space for himself and the others with similar experiences.
Born in Chicago, Carla Williams started writing for her high school yearbook and student newspapers, later working for the Chicago Sun-Times during college. She taught history and English in Oakland for 15 years, and was a Bay Area Writing Project Fellow in 2010. Her writing relates to history, travel, sports, family life and politics. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Digital Paper, Poetry Express, Dillydoun Review and elsewhere. Her first novel, Blues Highway, explores Pullman Porters’ migration to Chicago from the South.
Patanisha Alia Williams
Raised in Oakland, CA, Patanisha Alia Williams is the co-founder of the creative enterprise Pata Ali Love Club. She is a cultural curator, photographer and beloved urban art fairy. Through the Love Club, Patanisha collaborates across business, art and government sectors to promote Love as a culture. Her programming is art based with an emphasis on cross-generational connection for individual and community healing. Born into a family of creatives, activists, entrepreneurs and village servants, she is the niece of both guitarman Leadbelly and civil activist/entrepreneur, Jake Simmons Jr. Patanisha knows her ancestry is a gift. She is most proud of her Media Production company, Alice Gee Productions, named after her Great Great Grandmother, an enslaved Woman who never had the chance to tell her story.
Audrey T. Williams
Audrey T. Williams is a speculative literary artist who writes poetry, fiction, and lyrical essays. Her work is rooted in heritage and ancestral connections. She believes stories can shift hearts and minds by reimagining and reframing the narratives we tell ourselves about ourselves to bring meaning to our lives. Audrey amplifies the voices of emerging BIPOC writers through her nonprofit, AncestralFutures.org. Connect with Audrey online: @audthentic_stories | @Virgule2020
Dera R. Williams
Dera R. Williams is an Oakland author who writes fiction, nonfiction, and memoir. Her family was a part of the Great Migration, moving to Oakland when she was two years old. She has written a collection of stories about growing up in Oakland and is writing a Great Migration novel, Serving Tea at Miss Belle’s. Exploring the relationship of myth and oral and family history, she honors the voices of her ancestors in her storytelling.