Liberty Hall, also called The Marcus Garvey Building is a National Landmark and Historic Building in West Oakland, CA. Since Liberty Hall’s purchase by a HEDGE FUND (Citi Property Holdings, Inc) Overcomers With Hope (a non-profit organization that trains at risk youth in Television/Digital Arts Media Production) is being forced to leave and relocate their program after they previously signed a 10 year lease with the previous owners of Liberty Hall. Citi Property Holdings, Inc. refused to issue a proper lease. Please help save the Marcus Garvey Building/Liberty Hall and the community services delivered by Overcomers With Hope by signing this petition.
Liberty Hall is the only privately funded renovation project dealing with black history in Northern California (the project was started by Sister Pat Sears, CST, and Sister Joanna Bramble, CST), and is significant in the area of Ethnic/Black Heritage because it served from 1925 to 1931 as headquarters for Local 188 of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). It was home to the movement's largest chapter in Northern California, and from 1932 was the main Oakland branch Father Divine's Peace Mission. Liberty Hall is significant because it was owned—not rented—by the local chapters of both movements. This is a national landmark and has been a staple to the West Oakland community for over 100 years by being a beacon for community service, goodwill, and empowerment.
Overcomers With Hope (OWH), founded by Bishop J. E. Watkins, is the current tenant of Liberty Hall, 1485 8th Street, Oakland, CA, and is a non-profit organization that trains at risk youth in Television/Digital Arts Media Production. Overcomers With Hope also uses the building as a community center that organizes referrals for jobs, food, utilities restoration, housing search and financial assistance. They will even help those in need with finding a means for first and last month’s rent and help pay up to 3 months in back rent. Bishop Watkins operates a community chapel in the building with counseling and prayer services from 10-4pm, with a 24 hour prayer line in the works. Citi Property Holdings, Inc. has refused to renew the lease for Overcomers With Hope at Liberty Hall which means Overcomers With Hope needs to relocate and find a new home (by February 2, 2013) for over $1 million worth of equipment, and find a new place to render services to the community, putting their constituents in West Oakland at further risk.
We are asking Citi Property Holdings, Inc to sell the property at a FAIR market value with an affordable scheduled payment plan; Overcomers With Hope’s programs are a beacon of light to the block of Eighth Street and Chester, from youth to elderly citizens who leverage the information center. Work with them to make Liberty Hall an even brighter star for the community members of West Oakland so the next 30 years of redevelopment will show even greater hopes for the future.
Over the past 3 months, Overcomers With Hope lost $170,000 worth of grant funding (from the City of Oakland and federal government) to repair Liberty Hall and continue to run their programs at no cost to Citi Property Holdings, Inc. (new owners). This was a result of a decision to refuse a renewal of the lease, which made Overcomers ineligible to claim these grants and others. Overcomers With Hope originally had a 10 year lease, and when the property was picked up during the foreclosure a hand written, month-to-month lease was sent to Bishop Watkins. In good faith, Bishop Watkins signed the lease as it was reported that the 10 year lease was unable to be located by the prior owners or the new ones. When Bishop Watkins presented the hand written lease to the City of Oakland as part of the process to secure the grants, the lease was questioned because of the lack of professionalism in its appearance.
We ask now for your commitment in supporting ownership of Liberty Hall by an organization who is committed to the continued rendering of community services to support economic development for the under-served community, especially the African Americans who have traditionally settled in that area of West Oakland. I implore you to look into the vast history of this building and it's national, and local significance to our country and work with us to preserve it's future as a bedrock in the community of West Oakland, California.
For more information and updates on this campaign like our facebook page to Save the Marcus Garvey Building.
Bishop J.E. Watkins, Pastor Jack London Square Chapel Ministries, C.O.G.I.C.
Founder, Overcomers With Hope
General Manager, Urban Advantage Consulting
Founder/Director, Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum
Oakland Native and Concerned Citizen
Founder, Things A Brew
Founder, Chief Business Development Officer, Intuitive Interactive
Aaron Patrick Darby
Executive Director, OMY Artist Development