Residents of Sojourner Truth Manor, an 85 unit-housing complex at 5906 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland, gathered in the meeting room last Sunday where they were entertained with Christmas Carols sung by Girl Scouts Troop #30017.
Mistress of Ceremonies Rashaun Raymond, a director of the manor, introduced Director Cheryl Moore who greeted residents and guests.
Dr. Janice C. Jones of Bethel Missionary Church of East Oakland gave the Invocation. Following the program, Southern and Ethiopian cuisine was served, sponsored by the manor board and provided by Chef Alfred’s Catering of Oakland.
Live instrumental music was provided by Willie Hartley, “Pastor Collins” and his daughter, and Otis White.
Daisy Murray, chaplin, chairperson of the Event Committee, member of the Board of Directors and one of two remaining founding members, recalled the difficulties of getting funding for the housing for low-income people in the 1970s.
“The National Black Business and Professional Women, East Bay Area Club, mentored youth and worked on career development for Black women, and even worked to get Dellums elected,” she said.
“In 1971, realtor Ellen Winborn came up with the idea of housing for the elderly and told us federal funding was available. Our club embraced the idea and we approached H.U.D. three times,” Murray continued.
“They turned us down twice because they didn’t believe we, as minority women, were capable. The third time they approved, and we broke ground in 1975.”
“We presently have 85 units. With the passing of our last Board President, Dr. Evelyn Jackson, we elected Sylvester Brooks as our new president. We have continued to upgrade the building under his leadership as project manager.”
Fifteen Black women became part of Sojourner Truth Housing Inc., a non-profit organization that received $1.8 million from HUD and the Mason McDuffie Investment Co.
It became the first corporation of Black women in the country to develop such a project.