Oakland’s first black city councilman Joshua Rose. From 1965 to 1977, Rose served on the Oakland City Council representing District 2.
Joshua Rose was born in Lexington, Virginia, on September 11, 1906, to Mary Charles, who later married George Rose.
His family relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Joshua attended Schenley High School.
After high school, he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), where he completed the required credits for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in 1934. He did post-graduate work in economics, philosophy, and psychology at New York University.
During his time at Pitt, he worked at the Hill District Center Avenue YMCA. The Y served as a residence for Black students at Pitt who were not allowed to reside at the university residence halls.
After graduation, Rose accepted a position with the YMCA in Montclair, New Jersey.
In 1939, Rose moved to California with his wife Virginia and their two children, Richard and Virginia, to help establish a branch of the Oakland YMCA for the local African American community.
He helped create what was later to be known as the Northwest Branch, which was initially located at 36th and San Pablo, but later moved to 3265 Market St. in the early 1940s.
Rose was responsible for introducing summer day camps that incorporated arts and crafts with sports and outdoor activities, including an annual trip to Yosemite National Park.
Rose worked throughout his career to provide many Oakland youth with constructive activities and summertime employment through the YMCA’s programs. In 1967 Rose retired as Associate General Secretary of the Metropolitan Branch of the YMCA.
Board of Playground Directors
In 1947, Rose was selected to be the first African American member of the Board of Playground Directors, a group that would eventually become the Oakland Recreation Commission.
Rose was a board member for 17 years, which included his serving as chairman from 1961 to 1962.
Oakland City Councilman
On August 27, 1964, he was asked by Mayor John Houlihan if he would complete the unexpired term of Robert V. McKeen on the Oakland City Council. Rose agreed and became the first African American to sit on the Council.
He represented the 2nd District. Rose, a Republican, was re-elected three times in 1965, 1969, and 1973.
“I have a deep interest in Oakland’s future. To secure that future, dedication and sacrifice based on sound academic training and reliable experience are necessary.”Joshua A. Rose April 1965
He was a respected member of the Council, particularly for his work in easing racial tensions in the city in the late 1960s when the Black Panther Party, founded in Oakland in 1966, challenged the local political establishment.
After sustaining severe injuries in an automobile accident, Rose officially retired from the Council on June 30, 1977.
“Josh was a symbol for us” “A symbol of success.”Mayor Lionel Wilson Sept 1987
Joshua Rose passed on April 13, 1987, from Parkinson’s disease. He was 81.
- Staff Members Assumes Duties – The Montclair Times June 18, 1935
- Branch Manager to Assume new Post – The Montclair Times – February 24, 1939
- Activities Among Negroes – Oakland Tribune April 23, 1939
- YMCA Camp Activities – Oakland Tribune January 24, 1943
- Council Fills Two Vacancies – Oakland Tribune July 18, 1947
- First Negro Appointed to City Council – Oakland Tribune August 27, 1964, and page 2
- Oakland Negro A Councilman – SF Examiner August 28, 1964
- Victory in Election – Oakland Tribune April 21, 1965
- Josh Rose T Quite As ‘Y’ Leader – Oakland Tribune February 14, 1967
- Rose to Seek Third Term on Council – Oakland Tribune January 5, 1973
- How Oakland’s System Defeats Black – SF Examiner November 25, 1975
- First Black Member of the Oakland City Council – Obituray – SF Examiner April 16, 1987
- Joshua Rose – Oakland Local Wiki
- Bachelor of Science Degree Earned in the 1930s Awarded Posthumously to Civic Leader – Pittwire
- Joshua Rose (1906-1987) – Blackpast
- The Remarkable Courtship and Marriage of Josh and Virginia Craft Rose – Oakland Library
- Concord author pens book on black trailblazers in Oakland, her parents – East Bay Times May 28, 2019