Skip to content

Making art for change

Kaiser Permanente Northern California commissions a mural to highlight social justice, inclusiveness, and racial equality.

When Carolyn “CJ” Johnson first saw photos of the mural commissioned by Kaiser Permanente Northern California to celebrate equity, inclusion, and diversity in our communities, she said, “I felt loved. Especially when it represents Black people, Black women.”

Johnson is chief executive officer of the Black Cultural Zone, which manages Liberation Park in East Oakland. In January 2021, Kaiser Permanente Northern California will donate the 1,000-square-foot mural to Liberation Park, where it will support their work to preserve Black arts and culture in Oakland.

The mural, co-created by Oakland artists Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith and Joshua Mays, currently graces the exterior of Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research building on the corner of 20th Street and Broadway. The project is “part of Kaiser Permanente’s dedication to ending systemic racism in our nation and breaking down barriers to equality,” said Yvette Radford, vice president, Kaiser Permanente Northern California External and Community Affairs.

“As an organization with deep roots in Oakland, we want to do our part to help our community heal by showcasing the amazing contributions of Black artists and creating an inspirational piece of art to remind us all of the importance of social justice, inclusiveness, and racial equity,” Radford said.

“Going to a gallery isn’t necessarily accessible to all people,” said Wolfe-Goldsmith. “So, I think one of the great joys is that not only am I creating these images that are a reflection of my community, I’m also getting to share it with my community without any barrier between that. People feel seen and reflected as beautiful and powerful.”

“I appreciate Kaiser Permanente being tuned into the moment and the value of utilizing this space in the way that they did.”

The mural is just one of dozens of pieces of public art that have cropped up throughout downtown Oakland since May this year, when George Floyd’s murder shook the country and sparked thousands of protests nationwide.

Business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as property damage in the wake of the protests had left a good deal of downtown Oakland boarded up. One by one, slabs of plywood were covered in works of art celebrating Black lives and echoing voices of protest.

Mays valued the opportunity “to flow into the collection of creative energy that has culminated on Broadway in downtown Oakland, and contribute to the dialogue that is going on. I appreciate Kaiser Permanente being tuned into the moment and the value of utilizing this space in the way that they did,” he said.

A permanent home at Liberation Park

After a period of display downtown, the mural will move to Liberation Park, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The park’s managing organization, Black Cultural Zone, is engaged in a community wide effort to preserve downtown’s protest mural art, including the work donated by Kaiser Permanente.

“One of the missions of the Black Cultural Zone is to preserve Black arts and culture,” Johnson said. “We want to find a way to use the artwork to have conversations about what happened with George Floyd, why it shouldn’t happen, and what we in Oakland can uniquely do, because it’s such a beautiful, diverse city, where real conversation can happen.”

The mural commissioned by Kaiser Permanente will remain on display at the corner of 20th Street and Broadway in Oakland until Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021. Employees interested in Liberation Park, the Black Cultural Zone, and the ongoing mural project may visit the Black Cultural Zone website. Teams background images of the mural may be downloaded below. See more photos with our Twitter hashtag #bethechangeoaklandlove.

Teams meeting backgrounds

Click on the image below that you want to use and save it to your desktop, a folder, or elsewhere. Follow the directions below for then uploading the image to Teams.

How to upload a custom background in Microsoft Teams

Following a recent update, Microsoft Teams made it much easier to add custom backgrounds. Here’s how to use your own images for backgrounds within Teams.

  1. Within a video call, select the More actions button (three dots).
  2. Select Show background effects.
  3. Select Add new.
  4. Select the image you’d like to use as a background.
  5. Select Open.

The image is now available to use as a custom background. 


diversitydivision of research

This Post Has One Comment

  1. While listening to the artists’ views on what they’re doing and the differences they want to make, I can see the hope in their artwork and hopefully one day we’ll make a difference in a culture that needs to be heard. My words to you two are a job well done, it’s not going unnoticed and thank you for stepping up!

Leave a Reply

Comments Disclaimer

Many articles and features on Look insideKP Northern California offer readers the opportunity to share their opinions about a specific topic by making comments. Please do not include any confidential information in your comments, such as personal, medical, or financial information. Comments should be respectful and on-topic. We reserve the right to edit comments as necessary, will only post comments meeting our criteria, and in some instances reserve the right to not post comments. Thank you.

Back To Top

Don't miss out on stories from Look InsideKP
Northern California

Opt in to receive story headlines weekly.