From left to right: Eddie Heard, quarterback of McClymond High School Football Team; William “Bill” Patterson, EBMUD Director; Mark Davis, Raiders owner; and Clem Daniels. Photo by Stephen Brooks, Jr.
Friends, family, teammates, sports stars, admirers and reporters came out to honor Clemon Daniels, an entrepreneur, civic leader and athlete who has made a lasting impact on life in Oakland Among those who attended the March 8 event at the Oakland Marriott were Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, and veteran coach and sportscaster John Madden. Daniels was “a superstar on the field and still a champion in the community,” said Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr., of Allen Temple Church. Oakland-bred Celtics legend Bill Russell said he is thankful to God that he met and became one of Daniels’ closest friends. Madden, who was head coach when Daniels played for the Raiders, said what he admired most about Daniels was his unwavering loyalty to him and the team. Daniels said he is working now on projects to develop economic clout in the Black Community. “I want to establish a united, economic front in the African-American community,” he said. His idea is to develop a thriving business sector similar to what exists in the Fruitvale District and Chinatown. “Seventy percent of all jobs are created through small businesses,” Daniels said. “If we don’t have small businesses in our communities, our young people won’t have jobs available to them.” Daniels’ leadership and winning spirit began to emerge while he was still in high school. He was elected student body president in his senior year in 1955 at Doty High in McKinney, Texas. He spoke at his graduation about the civil rights issues raised by the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Decision to desegregated public schools. “I’ve never been one to bite my tongue or sit in the back when these issues came about,” he said. “I’ve always had that kind of personality.” Daniels’ activism grew while he was a student at Prairie View A&M University. While playing on the football team, he noticed that a store that sold football uniforms required Black players to buy a uniform if they tried it on. But white players were able to try one on without buying it. Organizing a boycott, Daniels and 5,000 students at Prairie View refused to shop at the store, causing the owner to lose about 50 percent of his profit. “If they don’t want to hire or serve our people, we shouldn’t spend our money there,” he said. “Everybody understands that except Black people. I learned this at Prairie View.” Daniels moved to Oakland in 1961 to play with the Oakland Raiders, leading his team to the Super Bowl. After his legendary football career came to an end, a new chapter opened for Daniels as he became a community leader. He opened his first store, Clem Daniels’ Liquors, on 102th Ave. and E 14th St. in Oakland and joined the California State Package Store and Tavern Owners Association (Cal-Pac). At a meeting with Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party, Daniels said he was confronted by Newton about what liquor storeowners were doing to benefit the community. “After doing some soulsearching, I realized we weren’t doing that much,” Daniels said. “That’s why I started the scholarship Cal-PAC Scholarship Fund Foundation.” Over the course of a decade, the foundation has given away $1.6 million in scholarships in Northern California alone, with southern California having similar numbers.