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Warm weather and the increase in COVID-19 cases in Alameda County mean that outdoor activities remain a safer option than gathering inside, especially without a mask. This week’s roundup includes the return of two major community events: the Oakland Greek Festival and the Malcolm X Jazz Festival at San Antonio Park. 

Although there is currently no mask mandate, the Alameda County Public Health Department strongly encourages the use of masks. If you’ve been out and about socializing with friends and strangers, don’t forget to get tested. We continue updating our COVID-testing guide.

Know of an event that should be featured? Email me at: azucena@oaklandside.org 

Oakland’s Diamond History: A Homegrown Baseball Legacy

East Oakland’s sports historian Paul Brekke-Miesner is the author of Home Field Advantage, a book about how the city of Oakland produced so many professional athletes. Credit: Azucena Rasilla

The Oakland A’s are having a field day with fans revolting over the increase in ticket prices and the looming possibility of the team moving out of Oakland if the Howard Terminal ballpark deal falls through. Who better to weigh in on the future of baseball in Oakland than East Oakland’s sports historian and author of Home Field Advantage, Paul Brekke-Miesner. Tune in on Zoom to hear Brekke-Miesner talk about Oakland’s baseball legacy, what would happen if the A’s leave, what factors contribute to creating a baseball legacy in communities, and more. The event is being presented by the Oakland Heritage Alliance

Thursday, May 19, 7 p.m., via Zoom, register online

50th Oakland Greek Festival 

Three days of food, live music, and panoramic views of the Bay Area. Credit: Oakland Greek Festival Facebook page

This weekend the Oakland Greek Festival is celebrating its 50th year with authentic cuisine, live music, and of course dancing on the veranda of the historic Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Celebrate Oakland’s rich Hellenic culture with delicious gyros, piping hot loukoumades, and the vibrant songs of KYMATA, the Mythos Band, and more. 

Friday, May 20 through Sunday, May 22, $5 for adults and free for children under 12, Ascension Cathedral, 4700 Lincoln Ave. 

Malcolm X Jazz Festival

The Malcolm X Jazz festival takes place at San Antonio Park. Credit: Amir Aziz

“Jazz in your ear all day, sun on your backs, our Oakland is here to stay,” is what event organizers are promising at this year’s Malcolm X Jazz Festival at San Antonio Park, presented by EastSide Arts Alliance. The community fest is making a cautious return after its hiatus caused by the pandemic. While there won’t be any food or arts vendors, Dalia “La Pantera” Gomez will host an open house with boxing and fitness activities. Gomez’s outdoor boxing camp, Vertical Skillz, has been at San Antonio Park since early 2021. The festival organizers are encouraging attendees to support local restaurants and bring their own food to the event. Kev Choice, Ryan Nicole, and the MJ’s Brass Boppers are among the live musical acts at the festival.

Saturday, May 21, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m, free to attend, San Antonio Park, 1701 E 19th St.

The Shadows of Ambition: Meet authors Vanessa Hua, Devi S. Laskar & Grace D. Li

Authors Vanessa Hua, Devi S. Laskar, and Grace D. Li discuss their new novels at the Oakland Main Library. Credit: OPL

If you’ve missed literacy events at the Oakland Public Library Main Branch, this one’s for you! Authors Vanessa Hua, Devi S. Laskar, and Grace D. Li will be discussing their latest novels, Forbidden City, Circa, and Portrait of a Thief, respectively. Masks inside the library are required.

Also, did you know that Oakland Public Library members get access to all kinds of perks like free and low-cost passes to cultural hubs around the Bay Area? While at the library, sign-up to become a member

Sunday, May 22, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., free to attend, register online, Oakland Public Library (Main Branch), 125 14th St.

Outdoor Play Day

The playground and basketball courts at Arroyo Viejo Park in East Oakland. Credit: Amir Aziz

With the weather getting warmer, now is the perfect opportunity to enjoy Oakland’s many parks and recreation centers. The Black Cultural Zone is hosting this play day for families at Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center (the center will soon be home to a low-cost commercial kitchen). At the event, there will be food, games for kids, skating, and much more. Gather the family, slather on sunscreen, and head over to see what the Black Cultural Zone has in store. 

Sunday, May 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., free to attend, Arroyo Viejo rec center, 701 Krause Ave.

Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.