Posted in Black History, People, Uncategorized

First African American Miss Oakland

Miss Oakland 1968

In 1968, Tanya Dennis was crowned Miss Oakland, becoming the first African-American to wear the crown. She then became one of the early African-American to compete for the title of Miss California.

Oakland Tribune 1968

Miss Dennis was the first of three (in a row) African-American Miss Oakland’s.

Oakland Tribune June 1968

In June of 1969, Miss Dennis competed with 36 other girls from throughout the state for Miss California.

Miss Dennis won the talent division with an exotic African ballet.

Santa Cruz Sentinel June 1968

Miss Dennis was the third runner-up in the Miss California pageant.

 Miss Oakland 1969

In 1969, Laomia McCoy was crowned Miss Oakland, becoming the second African – American to wear the crown and compete for Miss California’s title.

Miss McCoy sang a selection from “Porgy and Bess” to win the talent category in preliminary judging and Miss Redlands, Susan Anton took the swimsuit honor.

The Californian June 20, 1969

Susan Anton won the title of Miss California and Miss McCoy was one of the runner-ups.

Miss McCoy was 19 at the time of the competition and student at Merritt College.

Oakland Tribune May 1969

Miss Oakland 1970

In 1970 Theresa Smith was crowned Miss Oakland becoming the third African-American to wear the crown and compete for Miss California’s title.

Santa Cruz Sentinel June 4, 1970

Smith competed alongside 35 contestants for the title of Miss California.

SF Examiner June 17, 1970

The Miss Congeniality, an award voted by the contestants was awarded to Miss Oakland, Theresa Smith, she was also honored for being the most talented non-finalist dancer in the competition.

Oakland Tribune Nov 12, 1970

Miss Smith was 20 years old at the time of the competition and a student at the University of California.

The officials at the Miss California State pageant refused to allow Miss Smith to perform unless she dropped the “offensive” word, “Black,” from her recitation. It hadn’t been offensive in Oakland.

Oakland Tribune Oct 8, 1970

Black Beauty Queens Denied Rewards

Laomia McCoy and Theresa Smith, Miss Oakland of 1969 and 1970, held a press conference to discuss that they were treated unfairly and racially discriminated against by the Miss Oakland beauty pageant’s sponsors.

“if they had it to do all over again they wouldn’t have competed in the annual pageant.”

Theresa Smith and Laoma McCoy Sept 19, 1970

Negligent

The Oakland Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) was the pageant’s sponsor for the previous 24 years before 1970.

“I feel that they (the Jaycees) have been negligent in communicating with me and supporting me and have failed to bestow upon me the full benefits of my title said, Miss Smith.

Miss Smith charged that she was promised a $1000.00 scholarship but only received $100, was invited to appear at hardly any civic events, and was denied pay for personal appearances.

SF Examiner 1970

The Jaycees president said her complaints were just a misunderstanding about what the title involves and that she received the same as previous winners.

Theresa ended up getting only a $100 scholarship which was promised before the start of school. The money arrived after final registration at UC, forcing her “to be faced with an additional fee for be late” in registering.

The Jaycees decided to drop their sponsorship of the pageant after 24 years in 1970, they said they were over budget by $1500.

More Info:

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Posted in Black History, People, Schools, West Oakland

Oakland: The Mellow City

I love Oakland with much of my heart. I look forward to Oakland’s change, growth, virtue, and beauty in the years of the future, glorifying past and forgone years.

My dream is that people who read this book of our city will also strive for a more wonderful Oakland.

By: Jacqueline Taylor

Oakland Tribune 1969

Oakland, The Mellow City Week

By official proclamation of Mayor John Reading Sunday, October 12, 1969, was the first day of:

“Oakland, The Mellow City Week.”

Oakland Tribune Oct 1969

The observation honored more than 200 eighth-grade authors and artists who produced a book about their home city.

“The Mellow City” was researched and illustrated in the spring of 1968 under the guidance of teachers from Hoover Junior High.

Oakland Tribune Oct 1969

Students were asked to base their work on the response to one question:  

“If you were to develop a book to help other students learn about Oakland, what would you include”?

Oakland Tribune

After six weeks of intensive work, they had 76 pages of essays, poems, and more than 50 original watercolors and pen and ink illustrations.

Oakland Tribune Feb 1969

Financing

Money for the project which required field trips, camera equipment, and teacher time was available through Elementary Secondary Education Act funding.

The Oakland Junior League voted to underwrite the expense of printing 2,500 copies.

Sample Page

The students also worked with printers in selecting the paper, typeface and cover design, including

The Cover
  • Jacqueline Taylor
  • Wanda White
  • Valerie Hickman
  • Marvin Miles
  • LaTanya Johnson
  • Glenda Walker
  • Coynell Smith
Oakland Tribune Oct 1969
Sample Page

More Info:

The book is still available (July 2020) to purchase at:

  • Oakland: The Mellow City – Amazon
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – ebay
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – biblio
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – abebooks

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