To help commemorate Black History Month, long-time Oakland journalist Mary Ellen Butler will present contents from her new book, Heart & Soul: The Remarkable Courtship and Marriage of Josh and Virginia Craft Rose, in the North Oakland area where she grew up.
Josh & Virginia, the subjects of her book, are Butler’s parents. Her father, after founding the Northwest (Oakland) Branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), would become the first African-American Oaklander elected to public office. From 1965 to 1977, Joshua Rose served on the Oakland City Council representing District 2, where the Temescal Branch Library is situated (and now represented by Councilmember Dan Kalb.) Her mother was a long-time civic, cultural and educational leader in Oakland, who traced her roots back to a child of Elizabeth Hemings with Thomas Jefferson and was named Oakland’s Mother of the Year in 1982.
Robert Hill, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, describes the book as “an inspiring narrative of how a woman and man from opposite ends of the black socioeconomic spectrum were able to navigate matters of family and love; to graduate from college at a time when black students were rare…and to help other African-Americans in their community and beyond.” It is comprised of 153 letters found in Mrs. Rose’s “flowered pillowcase” with added wise and well-informed commentary in the style that characterized Butler’s long and award-winning career writing for the Oakland Tribune.
Copies of the book, published by the Sen. John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Penna. where the courtship began, will be available for sale.
This event is part of a regular series of Saturday afternoon salons featuring local residents whose work contributes to the fabric of the community.