The past, present and future of Oakland sports

The Dynastic A’s of the 1970s. The mystique and “excellence” of the Raiders under forward-thinking coach and owner Al Davis. The “strength in numbers” philosophy and cheerful exuberance of the Golden State Warriors (and their notoriously boisterous crowds when the team played in Oakland). The social activism of McClymonds graduate and NBA legend Bill Russell. The unshakeable self-confidence and restlessness of baseball’s king of stolen bases, Ricky Henderson. There is no doubt that over the decades, sports have both reflected and helped shape Oakland’s culture and civic identity.

Thursday, September 22, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland, CA 94612

To buy tickets here.

It’s equally true that the past few years have been particularly difficult for fans of Oakland’s major sports franchises. The Raiders have picked up and gone (again) in 2020. Our beloved Dubs have picked up their championship banners and hung them up in brighter digs across the bay. The A’s? Tangled up in a contentious debate at Howard Terminal that could eventually end with them joining the Raiders in Las Vegas.

In short, there is a lot to unpack and questions to answer: What does sport have to do with the soul of a city? When the big professional sports franchises leave a city, what pops up in their place? Can Oakland’s prep sports programs continue to live up to their legacy of producing star professional athletes, in a time when school budgets are strapped for money?

We’ve invited the perfect guests to explore these questions and more at our next Culture Makers event, taking place September 22 at the New Parkway Theatre. And we’re in for a treat with a musical performance by Oakland singer-songwriter Mara Hruby. The show will be hosted by Oaklandside arts and community reporter Azucena Rasilla. We hope you will join us there too.

Culture Makers is generously presented by Xfinity with additional sponsorship support from PG&E, East Bay Community Energy, Tidewater Capital and The Oakland A’s.

Learn more about our guests:

Marcus Thompson

Marcus Thompson II is a senior columnist at the national online sports news publication Athleticism, known for writing about Bay Area professional sports, particularly the Golden State Warriors and the NBA in general. He is the author of the national bestseller Golden: The miraculous rise of Steph Curry, KD: Kevin Durant’s relentless pursuit to be the greatestand DYNASTIES: The ten GOAT teams that changed the NBA forever. The Clark University Atlanta product lives with his wife, Dawn, and daughter, Sharon, in Oakland.

Alexis Gray Lawson

Alexis Gray Lawson was born in Oakland. She attended Oakland Technical High School where she helped Tech win its second state basketball title. Gray-Lawson earned a scholarship to play basketball at UC Berkeley, where she holds the Golden Bears’ all-time record for three-pointers made, with a total of 148. She signed with the Phoenix Mercury of Women’s National Basketball Association in 2011. During the WNBA offseason, she also played professionally in Turkey and Israel. Earlier this year, she earned her doctorate in instructional and curriculum leadership. Gray-Lawson is currently the community school principal, teacher, and athletic director at Oakland Tech.

Edreece Arghandiwal

As the sports teams leave Oakland, Edreece Arghandiwal swimming against the current. First-generation Afghan-American born in Oakland, Arghandiwal is co-founder and chief marketing officer of the Oakland Roots Sports Club. This community-focused professional football team debuted in 2018 and plays its home games at Laney College Football Stadium in front of a growing number of adoring fans, often drawing crowds. In May, the club announced that it would also field a professional women’s soccer club, the Oakland Soul, from 2023. Arghandiwal is a graduate of Babson College and the University of California, Davis.

Musical guest: Mara Hruby

Mara Hruby doesn’t just play music, she lives it. Since the start of her career, the Oakland native has poured her soul into her velvet confections, taking lessons she gleaned from her personal life and channeling them into rich, organic compositions. In just a few short years, the singer-songwriter, whose musical influences range from Patsy Cline to Curtis Mayfield, has become one of the fastest rising stars of acoustic soul, gaining a loyal following. Hruby’s 2014 Album archaic rapture reached the coveted No. 1 spot on the iTunes Jazz charts within a week. His work has been described as “bridging the gap between cabaret-era jazz-pop and alternative soul” by NBC Bay Area, and the Huffington Post said that Hruby’s effortless music “evokes a nostalgia for sounds of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald”.

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