Throughout the fall season, the Oakland History Center will be hosting several exhibits commemorating local figures that shaped the city, including Marcus Foster, the influential former superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District.
The center, part of the Oakland Public Library, maintains a collection of manuscripts, photographs, news clippings and other materials that assist in the research of the city’s history and is complimented by occasional lectures, programs and exhibits such as the one on Marcus Foster, titled “Dr. Marcus Foster: Making Oakland Schools Work,” which opened Tuesday.
Marcus Foster became superintendent in 1970 and held the position until he was assassinated by an extremist political group in November 1973 as he left a school board meeting.
He was noted for his innovative ability to fundraise for the school district, crafting an education foundation that brought teachers, parents and the community together with local businesses.
“My goal for the exhibit is to go beyond the basic facts of Marcus Foster’s life — that he was the first Black Superintendent of Oakland schools, and that he was assassinated — to show how he came to Oakland, his vision for our schools, and how he went about making that vision a reality.”Emily Foster, librarian and exhibit curator
“My goal for the exhibit is to go beyond the basic facts of Marcus Foster’s life — that he was the first Black Superintendent of Oakland schools, and that he was assassinated — to show how he came to Oakland, his vision for our schools, and how he went about making that vision a reality,” said librarian Emily Foster, who is curating the exhibit and has no relation to its namesake.
Emily Foster also spoke of the way Oakland was painted as “militant” at the time of Marcus Foster’s arrival and how he harnessed that energy to change the relationship between schools and the community’s engagement with them.
“He transformed the community’s relationship with the school board by giving people real and meaningful ways to participate and make their voices heard.”
Included in the exhibit is Marcus Foster’s “meticulous” appointment book, which Emily Foster said represents his commitment to the schools.
The exhibit runs from Oct. 3 to Dec. 30 and can be found at the Oakland History Center located on the second floor of the Oakland Public Library’s Main Library branch on 14th Street.