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Guide to the Paula Beal Papers
MS 221  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Paula Beal papers
    Dates: 2003-2017
    Collection number: MS 221
    Creator: Beal, Paula
    Collection Size: 2 linear feet (2 boxes + 1 oversized box)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The Paula Beal Papers consist of notebooks, subject files, reports, correspondence, flyers, and periodicals documenting her activities with housing activist and food justice groups in Oakland, California in the 2010s.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the Paula Beal Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Paula Beal papers, MS 221, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The Paula Beal Papers donated to the African American Museum & Library at Oakland by Molly McClure on May 4, 2018.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Heyliger, May 10, 2018.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Housing and food activist Paul Beal (1953-2016) was born on January 31, 1953 in Alton, Illinois to Charles Jones, Sr. and Pearline Jones. After attending Alton High School and Claremont McKenna College in Cicero, Illinois, she moved to Richmond, California where she met and married Willie Clyde Beal Sr. The couple were early pioneers in the medical marijuana in the East Bay and Paula Beal began her work as a housing activist after working at the Oakland Independent Support Center, a non-profit serving the homeless and individuals with substance abuse issues. She was later active with a number of housing activist groups including Causa Justa:: Just Cause, Oakland Renters Union, and Oakland United Coalition following the wave of displacement and gentrification in Oakland, California in the early 2010s.
    She also helped to initiate the movement to pass the Renters Upgrade Measure JJ, a campaign to strengthen renter's protections against wrongful evictions by landlords, and was a leading critic of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for not taking greater steps to curb the housing crisis in Oakland. She was also active in advocating for access to healthy food in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Oakland. She was a member of the HOPE (Health for Oakland’s People and Environment) Collaborative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and well being of low income families in West and East Oakland. She spearheaded the Healthy Corner Store Project which worked to increase availability of nutritious, affordable food at neighborhood corner stores in food deserts. She was also active in efforts to bring a grocery store to West Oakland and the People's Grocery, a collaborative project to foster community economic development and to provide low cost healthful foods to West Oakland communities. Following years of advocating for others, Beal herself became homeless after her landlord increased the rent in her 10-unit building from $850 to $1,080 per month in March 2016, a 27% increase which forced her, her son, and grandchildren to stay at a homeless shelter in Santa Rosa, California. She was the focus of a number of articles in The Guardian and The EastBay Times on gentrification and the homeless crisis in Oakland in 2016. Following her breast cancer diagnosis in 2016, a GoFundMe campaign was started to help raise funds for her food, housing, and medical costs prior to her death in December 2016.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Paula Beal Papers consist of notebooks, subject files, reports, correspondence, flyers, and periodicals documenting her activities with housing activist and food justice groups in Oakland, California in the 2010s. The papers are organized into six series: I. Notebooks, II. Speeches, III.Causa Justa :: Just Cause, IV. Hope Collaborative, V. Subject files, VI. Publications. The bulk of the materials document her work with Causa Justa :: Just Cause, The People's Grocery, and Hope Collaborative reflecting her struggle to fight displacement and gentrification and her efforts to establish better access to healthy food for disadvantaged citizens in Oakland, California.


    Series I. Notebooks Series II. Speeches Series III. Causa Justa :: Just Cause Series IV. Hope Collaborative Series V. Subject files Series VI. Publications

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Causa Justa :: Just Cause
    Minorities--Nutrition--Social aspects--United States
    Oakland (Calif.) Social conditions
    Social justice--United States