A black and white painting Tupac Shakur's head above the neck, wearing a bandana, on a wooden fence. There are green paint streaks in the background. To Shakur's left is a partially-obscured painted face; to his right, a partially obscured painting of the front of a BART train.
A mural of rapper Tupac Shakur on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland. Credit: Darwin BondGraham.

Tupac Shakur once said, “I give all my love to Oakland, if I’ma claim somewhere I’ma claim Oakland.” The city plans on returning the love by renaming a section of one of its most prominent streets after Tupac Shakur.

On Tuesday, the City Council will vote on renaming the section of MacArthur Boulevard between Grand Avenue and Van Buren Avenue as “Tupac Shakur Way.” The item is on the consent agenda, which means it will be voted on with other items without discussion. Oakland has previously renamed streets to commemorate beloved artists, activists, and community leaders, including Peter Van Kleef, Huey P. Newton, Dorothy King, and Too Short. 

Shakur was born Lesane Parish Crooks in Harlem, New York in 1971. His parents, Afeni Shakur and Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party. Shakur grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and Marin City, California. But his career took off in Oakland, where he first linked up with the hip-hop group Digital Underground. Later, he worked as a roadie and a backup dancer before launching his own rap records. 

Shakur was living in the Bay Area when he produced his ground-breaking album “2Pacalypse Now,” which cemented his status as a preeminent emcee of the West Coast. Shakur credited Oakland with giving him his “Game.”

At the peak of his career, Shakur became embroiled in a fierce rivalry with the East Coast rap titan The Notorious B.I.G. On Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur was fatally shot while leaving a boxing match at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand in the company of Marion “Suge” Knight, the head of Death Row Records. The suspected shooter, allegedly a member of the Crips gang, was never charged.

Shakur’s popularity continued to soar after his death. According to the Oakland City Council resolution honoring him, Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide.

“Tupac Shakur’s legacy will continue through his contributions in art and social outreach, through his family and fans, touching countless lives of children and elders over the years while alive and after his death, taken too young by gun violence,” states the resolution, which was introduced by Councilmember Carroll Fife.  

This isn’t the first time Oakland has honored Shakur. In 2016, city officials proclaimed June 16 to be “Tupac Shakur Day.” Even before that, residents have celebrated Shakur’s legacy at gatherings, including a 2012 event commemorating what would have been his 41st birthday.

Another street will be renamed to honor health care advocate Sherry Hirota

The City Council is also expected to approve a new street name to honor Sherry Hirota, who for nearly 50 years has helmed one of the most important clinics in Oakland, Asian Health Services. The resolution, introduced by Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, would rename Alice Street between 9th Street and 10th Street as “Sherry Hirota Way.”

Hirota’s grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Japan in 1908 and worked as laborers on the railroads. Her family settled on 14th Street in West Oakland, which became part of a booming Japantown. Her grandfather, Masajiro Hirota, was a founder of the Oakland Buddhist Church, which survived the incarceration of many of its members during WWII, and a forced relocation to make way for a freeway.

Hirota started at Asian Health Services in 1976 and over the years has helped the clinic to expand to 12 sites. Today, it has 450 workers and serves 50,000 patients in 12 languages. She serves as its chief strategy officer and founding executive.

Hirota has spent much of her career advancing health care equity for AAPI communities. She is the founder of the Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations. She helped California establish standards for linguistic and cultural competency in managed healthcare. locally, Hirota played a major role getting Oakland to install pedestrian traffic signals in Chinatown after a number of elderly residents were killed in vehicle collisions.

Hirota formed the Labor Community Coalition for Jobs and Services to advocate against budget cuts following the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978.

Eli Wolfe reports on City Hall for The Oaklandside. He was previously a senior reporter for San José Spotlight, where he had a beat covering Santa Clara County’s government and transportation. He also worked as an investigative reporter for the Pasadena-based newsroom FairWarning, where he covered labor, consumer protection and transportation issues. He started his journalism career as a freelancer based out of Berkeley. Eli’s stories have appeared in The Atlantic, NBCNews.com, Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. Eli graduated from UC Santa Cruz and grew up in San Francisco.