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Indybay Feature
Remembering a True Giant: Thomas L. Berkley, Publisher of the Oakland Post News Group
by Mike Kinney
Sunday May 2nd, 2021 9:52 AM
Memories of African-American Publisher and Owner of the Oakland Post Newspaper Group in Oakland, CA.
by Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney

Thomas Lucius Berkley (August 9, 1915 – December 27, 2001) was an African-American lawyer, Newspaper publisher, world class athlete, and Chairman of the Oakland Port Authority Board of Commissioners, serving 1969-1981.

When I worked for the Oakland Post News Group back in the late 1980's right up to the 1990s, I wrote mostly community and entertainment feature stories. I remember bringing my news assignments to my editor Gail Berkley when I came back with my interview with singer Anita Baker or my coverage of when Phyllis Hyman had passed. Her father Mr. Thomas L. Berkley, who was the Publisher and owner of the Oakland Post News Group would look over his daughter's shoulder and would look at me with his big smile and would nod his head of approval on my byline.

I remember Mr. Berkley would always walk through our office located at 630-14th Street in downtown Oakland California. He would always drop by editorial and sales, I was both a news reporter and sales person there. He would always stop by to check in to see how we were doing. He was such a kind and gentle giant of West Coast newsprint.

He would always assign me to cover Richmond which then and is now my home town. I took the greatest pride in reporting and bringing the the real news to the people of Richmond.

I would always cover the Paramount Theatre when Frankie Beverly and Maze, Anita Baker, Phyliss Hyman, Bill Summers and Summers Heat, Sheila E. and her dad Pete Escovedo would perform there. I remember back in 1994 when Anita Baker performed at the Paramount on her "Rhythm of Love Tour' and the Bay Area media had packed the house seeking interviews with Anita. Several days before I had done an exclusive interview with Anita, the Post had tens of thousands of my interview printed several days before her concert.

I brought close to a hundred of tear sheets of my article to pass out to her fans at the concert, however my television, radio and newsprint associates wiped me out those copies to help them with their own news coverage of Anita. It was a real trip to be at my home here in Richmond and hear them after the concert quoting from article as one of their sources.

Thomas L. Berkley was larger than life and a giant among men. He give up and coming journalists like myself an opportunity to report and bring the readers of the Post News Group the real news!

I remember Congress Member Barbara Lee say after his passing in 2001 : " The world has lost a giant of a man. A brilliant leader. A champion for justice." And those words will always forever describe my memories Mr. Thomas L. Berkley.

by Mike Kinney
Sunday May 2nd, 2021 9:52 AM
Photos courtesy of and
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