Venturing down San Pablo Avenue under Interstate 580, one could not have the vibrant colors that transformed a dreary wall in one of the highest crime areas in Oakland into a mural that reflects hope and possibility.

This is the first of the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, which is West Oakland and Emeryville's first large-scale mural revitalization and beautification project.

The Super Heroes Mural Project is an extension of the Attitudinal Healing Connection, located in West Oakland. With a mission to eliminate violence by offering creative educational programs that transform the human spirit and build peaceful, loving communities for all humanity, AHC has the audacity to believe it can make a difference in an area often dominated by nihilism.

Founded in 1989 by Kokomon and Aeeshah Clottey, the AHC creates opportunities for individuals to heal from the social toxins that often make progress difficult. AHC provides platforms for creative expression and communication for children, youth, adults and families.

Through educational programs, workshops, events and healing circles, AHC cultivates skills in personal development, community leadership and the arts.

The work of AHC is centered on 12 principles:

  • The essence of our being is love.

  • Health is inner peace. Healing is letting go of fear.

  • Giving and receiving are the same.

  • We can let go of the past and of the future.

  • Now is the only time there is and each instant is for giving.

  • We can learn to love ourselves and others by forgiving rather than judging.

  • We can become love finders rather than fault finders.

  • We can choose and direct ourselves to be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside.

  • We are students and teachers to each other.

  • We can focus on the whole of life rather than the fragments.

  • Since love is eternal, change need not be viewed as fearful.

  • We can always perceive ourselves and others as extending love or giving a call for help

    In 1992, Kokomon and Aeeshah moved into the building where AHC is currently located, a former crack house that even the local residents thought it insane to undertake. But 21 years later, that location is now an oasis for transformation and possibility for all who enter.

    "Our vision was to create a community center where children and their families can come here for healing and drumming," Kokomon said. One of AHC's biggest advocates is Emeryville Mayor Kurt Brinkman.

    "I got involved when I was on the school board in Emeryville, 40 percent of Emeryville students actually come from West Oakland. When you see the violence that occurs in both Oakland and Emeryville, if kids are to learn they can't have violence in their life," Brinkman said.

    AHC asked community residents to describe positive and negative aspects of the neighborhood as well, as their hopes and dreams for the community through the lens of art. These initial steps gave birth to the mural project.

    The mural that now adorns San Pablo Avenue was designed and conceptualized by local high-school students. The project gives youth the rare opportunity to be critically engaged in a public forum, allowing their voices to be heard.

    The goal of the mural project is to complete six murals in three years. AHC is now raising roughly $450,000 to complete the project.

    Though hope is an intangible, driving by the mural on San Pablo Avenue reveals evidence of the hope of young people growing up in area that has not traditionally been associated with it.

    Contact Byron Williams at 510-208-6417 or byron@byronspeaks.com.