UPA students meet Mayor Dellums

On March 3,  exactly a month before we leave for Washington, the "DC 11" had a private meeting with Oakland's Mayor Ron Dellums in his office at City Hall!

The dialog was riveting!   It kicked off with Ociel's question to the mayor, "When you were our age, what did you want to be when you grew up."  Mayor Dellums told us about his dashed dreams to be a pro baseball player (back in the day when the AAA "Oakland Acrons" had a stadium in Emeryville he would walk from his family's home in West Oakland.)  He was honest about challenges and poor choices as a youngster, as well as the good choices and support that helped him become the first person of color elected to a predominately white congressional district.

The questions that followed drilled the mayor on various policy issues.  Ivonne asked him about his position on Oakland education.  Alejandra asked about his response to violence in Oakland.   Carlos framed his question about immigration beautifully as a young man who moved to the US only 4 years ago and attends a school where the majority of students are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

As we were nearing the end of our conversation, Ociel said, in the most sincere way, "Mayor Dellums, we really appreciate being able to meet with you."  The Mayor paused, tears welled up, and he said, "young man, you don't know how much that means to me."  Wow. 

Thank you Mayor Dellums.  You broke a race barrier in Congress, served our district for 31 years, engaged our whole country in a stance against apartheid in South Africa, came back to serve Oakland at the beckon of our citizens, and so generously gave of your time to talk to students from the Urban Promise Academy.