We are friends, colleagues and supporters of Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker.
City Attorney Parker is a lifelong fighter for civil rights and social justice. As a child, she experienced the brutality of institutionalized segregation when her family spent summers with her grandparents in rural Arkansas.
Inspired by the civil rights leaders of the South, at the age of 12 she led a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter in her hometown of Seattle.
Barbara and her siblings are the first generation in her family to attend college. Her father was a merchant marine and her mother picked cotton as a sharecropper before she became a homemaker and hotel maid.
In the early 1970s, she was one of a small number of African American women accepted at Harvard Law School. She had to fight every day against an entrenched attitude that a woman – and an African American woman at that – did not belong in law school.
City Attorney Parker has the tough job of providing legal guidance to steer our city through the choppy waters and tidal waves of legal issues that Oakland faces on a daily basis.
The City Council, Mayor, city department heads such as the fire and police chiefs, as well as city boards and commissions, all are her clients. It is her job to be independent and assure that everyone knows – and follows – the rules.
For the 21 years she has worked as a lawyer in the City Attorney’s Office, Barbara has ably and superbly performed this critical job in a professional, effective and honest manner free of political influence and unfair dealing.
Since she became City Attorney one year ago, Barbara has been a successful manager and watchdog for the public’s money. Costs for expensive outside attorneys are down almost 40 percent, and payments for lawsuits and claims against the city are down over 50 percent.
Barbara has excelled as an attorney for more than three and a half decades at every level of government, including more than five years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and in the private sector at two prominent law firms and two major corporations.
She also has excelled as a leader – as the head of a union that she helped to form, as a founding member of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Northern California, as the Chief Assistant in the City Attorney’s Office for more than 10 years and now as Oakland’s City Attorney.
Barbara is committed to making our community better. She is president of the Black Adoption Placement and Research Center, which finds permanent homes for children – many of them in the foster care system, and most of them African American.
Barbara also is a mentor for the East Bay College Fund, which provides mentors for college students who are the first generation in their family to attend college.
Her daughter Savannah, who she raised in Oakland as a single parent, graduated from Spelman College this year and her grandson, Samuel Koda Clement, celebrated his first birthday in August.
We unequivocally endorse her work as City Attorney – her focus on making neighborhoods safer, her prosecution of hotels that traffic in prostitution and abuse of young girls, her office’s ongoing work to hold banks accountable for foreclosures and blight in our community, and especially her independence and integrity.
Submitted by Rev. Dr. George Cummings, Rev. Dr. Charley Hames, Elihu Harris, Robert Harris, Dezie Woods-Jones, Pat Kernighan, Mary King, Kathy Neal, Bill Patterson, John Protopappas, Larry Reid and Libby Schaaf.