Update, March 10: Our first Culture Makers event on March 24 is sold out. Join the waitlist by visiting the event’s tickets page. And watch out for our next Culture Makers event, also at The New Parkway, on June 23, 2022.

Original story: There’s no place like Oakland. Whether we’re talking about the city’s social and political legacy, its artistic contributions, or the beautiful diversity of its people—it’s a statement that anyone who’s ever called Oakland home is bound to agree on. 

Thursday, March 24

Doors: 6 p.m. | Program: 7 p.m.

The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th St., Oakland

Purchase tickets

For nearly two years, since our launch, we’ve been publishing stories about the people who make it so special: the muralists and musicians, activists and entrepreneurs, dancers and filmmakers, poets and educators—all those who keep Oakland on the cutting edge and make life in The Town so unendingly interesting and enjoyable. 

Starting next month, we’ll get to share more of these stories—but this time we’ll be live and in person. 

The Oaklandside is proud to announce the launch of “Culture Makers,” powered by Xfinity, a quarterly event series celebrating the creatives who are shaping culture in our city. Each event will feature rich discussions with Oaklanders—some well-known, and others making waves just beneath the surface—who are putting a unique stamp on our city. There’ll be live performances, food offerings from local entrepreneurs, and fun opportunities for audience members to interact during the show.

Azucena Rasilla

Our first event in the series takes place March 24 at 6:30 p.m., at the New Parkway Theater, featuring a terrific slate of Oakland culture makers: Kev Choice, Niema Jordan, and Akintunde “Tunde” Ahmad. The evening will be emceed by The Oaklandside’s arts and community reporter, Azucena Rasilla. And you’ll be able to grab a bite from Dominic Prado’s popular Tacos El Último Baile food truck.

The multi-talented Kev Choice is no stranger to lots of folks in the Bay Area and he’ll be familiar to many of our readers—he performed and spoke with us last June for The Oaklandside’s one-year anniversary Live-ish special. The versatile jazz pianist and MC, who’s collaborated with artists as wide-ranging in style as Mistah F.A.B. and the San Francisco Symphony, will be gracing the New Parkway’s stage for a special performance. But Kev is about a lot more than just the music: He’s an educator and a champion of the arts in our city, as the vice-chair of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Commission. Who better to kick off our Culture Makers series?

An exciting film scene has been growing in Oakland in recent years, and if you’re not already familiar with her work, Niema Jordan is a name to pay attention to. In addition to her own directed works (like the excellent 2020 short film Labor, featuring Oakland poet and rapper RyanNicole), the talented journalist and filmmaker has had a hand in some big projects of late—filling producer roles on HBO’s Eyes on the Prize, Apple TV’s The Me You Can’t See, and the Pete Nicks-directed documentary The Force, to name only a few. She also serves on the board of directors at the youth leadership nonprofit, Oakland Kids First.

Niema Jordan. Credit: Bobby Gordon

Local journalist, fashion entrepreneur, and educator Akintunde “Tunde” Ahmad rounds out our lineup. Born and raised in East Oakland, Ahmad’s clothing designs have been turning heads in Oakland, and far beyond. His journey into fashion began in 2016 after a trip to Ghana, where he immersed himself in African history and culture. Inspired by the fabrics and custom clothing he saw in Ghana—a far cry from the mass-produced attire that was so common back home—Ahmad was motivated to launch his own clothing brand, Ade Dehye, using custom textiles sourced directly from West Africa. The best part of all: Ahmad, who also teaches through OUSD’s African American Male Achievement program, adheres to an ethical business model that supports, rather than exploits, African labor and culture.

Journalist, educator, and fashion entrepreneur Akintunde “Tunde” Ahmad Credit: courtesy Akintunde Ahmad

Of course, we can’t host an event about culture in Oakland without also shining a spotlight on some of the incredible chefs and food entrepreneurs that make our city a destination for foodies all over the Bay. Each Culture Makers event will highlight a different Oakland-based food business, and in March we’ll be featuring Tacos el Último Baile. If one of your pastimes is hunting down the best tacos in town, then you know this place. Regardless, come hungry.

A plate of street tacos from Oakland’s Tacos El Ultimo Baile. Credit: Paulina Barrack

We look forward to seeing you at the New Parkway Theater on March 24. Grab your tickets now.

Culture Makers is made possible by support from Xfinity (presenting sponsor) and PG&E (gold sponsor).

Jacob Simas is Managing Editor of The Oaklandside. He joined us from Univision, where he led social-impact initiatives and established the Rise Up: Be Heard journalism training program at Fusion for young people and community organizers in underserved areas of California. He was a senior editor and director of youth and community media at New America Media, where he led a community news network that amplified student and youth reporting in California news deserts. He is an advisory board member for Youth Beat, a graduate of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and a former producer with KPFA's First Voice apprenticeship program.