Portraits of Oakland: Michael Orange

In Black Oakland Renaissance on March 8, 2011 at 7:59 am


I moved to Oakland five years ago. At the time there was no downtown Oakland apartments. The Whole Foods on Harrison and Bay was an abandoned warehouse. It was quiet out here. Relatively boring, but nice. Fast forward a few years later and suddenly it was obvious that Oakland was seeing a boom, particularly a boom of young black men and women. And, once they got here things in The Town began to grow and change.


“Are we living in the middle of a Black Oakland Renaissance?” If so, “what is it? And, “what does a Black Oakland Renaissance mean? How do other black people in Oakland feel about this?” A year ago a friend and I decided to explore this idea. So, we identified a couple of people who we felt were adding color and diversity to Oakland.


I’m sure everyone can agree that Michael Orange is one of those people. He is a classic example of the new black Oakland. Michael wasn’t born here (he’s from North Carolina) but within a short period of time he managed to land a job working at the newly developed Uptown Apartments in downtown giving him a unique perspective on Oakland’s new developments. Also, in true renaissance fashion he moonlights as a promoter for the widely successful Top Ten Social.


I’ll be posting of series of snippets from the conversation between Julian and Michael but, for the first one I think this is most appropriate. In this clip Michael shares what he thought when he first saw downtown Oakland. Enjoy.


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