The Linden Branch Y.W.C.A. and the Filbert Street Y.M.C.A. developed programs during the 1930s that helped the Black community survive the Depression years. They emerged at a time when the national Y’s both encouraged separate branches for Black members.
Oakland’s Black Y.W.C.A
Linden Center got its name from its location at 828 Linden Street in West Oakland. It achieved the “branch” status in 1924 due to increase membership. It was then known as the Linden Branch Y.W.C.A or the Linden Y.
The Linden Y functioned as a job placement center and welfare agency during the Depression years.
The branch operated as a community center, offering members religious training, recreational activities, counseling, vocational training, and music and art programs.
By 1938 the Linden St. Y had a membership of over 750.
For almost 25 years, the Linden Branch existed as a segregated facility. Following a national policy change, the board of the Oakland Y.W.C.A. integrated the Linden Street Y.
“to make its program available to all women and girls irrespective of race, creed or color”
The name was changed to West Oakland Center YWCA.
Linden Street was described as ” a two-story framed building with four club rooms, a reception hall, office for the business and industrial sections, and two rooms rented to accommodate working girls.”
The facility and the entire surrounding neighborhood were razed in the early 1960s to make room for the Acorn Projects.
Oakland’s Black Y.M.C.A.
Organized by Rev. L.A. Brown of the First A.M.E. Church, opened on June 6, 1926. It was initially located at 3431 Market Street in West Oakland, and William E. Watkins, an attorney, was the first director. In 1927 the organization had a membership of 160, 134 seniors, and 26 boys.
In 1929 they moved to 804 Filbert Street and became known as the Filbert Street Branch, Y.M.C.A. In 1935 they moved to 805 Linden Street and became the Eight and Linden Branch, Y.M.C.A.
The Filbert Street Y promoted a competitive sports program. Its annual track meet annual athletic contest attracted competitors from all over the Bay Area.
They sponsored a variety of classes and activities. Members could attend classes in Bible and woodworking. A boys’ orchestra, organized by C. E. Brown, preformed for the public. Some of the boys were invited to summer camp.
In 1936 Mr. Watkins resigned as the director and was replaced by R.T. Smith. The directory lists the BLACK YMCA at 836-36th Street. After the move to 36th Street it became known as the North Oakland Branch. It probably integrated about the same time as the Linden Branch.
804 Linden Street burned in 1960 and then was razed for the Acorn Projects.
Oakland Heritage Alliance Newsletter – The Black Y’s of Oakland – Winter 1987-88
Oakland Heritage Alliance News Winter 2013 – Remembering the Linden Street Y
Linden Street Y.W.C.A. – Oakland Local WIki
- Linden Street Center is now a Branch – Oakland Tribune March 16, 1924
- New Filbert Street Branch – Oakland Tribune November 11, 1928
- The Filbert Branch Y.M.C.A. Moves – Oakland Tribune May 19, 1935
- Black Y.M.C.A. Moves – Oakland Tribune June 23, 1935
- William Watkins Resigns – Oakland Tribune May 31, 1936
- Activities Among Negroes – Oakland Tribune August 8, 1937
- 12 Complete Nurses Course – Oakland Tribune April 16, 1943
- Linden Y.W.C.A. Widens Its Functions – Oakland Tribune November 8, 1944