1001 Black Men #742


I am pleased to say that Thursday’s trip to San Francisco was almost completely unnecessary. I drove over to add some additional adhesive to the art labels for my show at the Writers’ Grotto. I’m pleased to say that all of the labels were still where I placed them, and only a few of them were curling away form the wall. I added some additional tape to those most likely to fall off, and I drove away satisfied with the overall quality of the show.

The trip gave me some peace of mind about my art labeling skills, and it also brought me in contact with a new subject for my series, this guy who I passed on my way back to the car.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #741



I passed this guy a few weeks ago, at the San Francisco Public Library. I’d gone over to pick up the three pieces of art I’d shown as part of The Black Woman is God exhibit, curated by Karen Seneferu. It was the second incarnation of an exhibit that was at the African American Art and Culture Complex last summer. Like me he was heading toward the African American Center at the library and I watched with a little bit of envy as he disappeared into the stacks near the exhibit area. This is the first summer in a long time that I haven’t had the time to truly immerse myself in my research and writing, and the sight of him turning down a row of books made me wistful for summers past, when I could spend uninterrupted weeks in the UCB library.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #740



The San Leandro sentry (see 1001 Black Men #739), corner of Juana at Grand and MacArthur.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #739


The corner of Jack London Alley and South Park Street.

I’m not one to believe in conspiracy theories or hidden organizations that shape the trajectory of all of our futures. Recently, though, as I’ve gone about my errands on both sides of the Bay, I have noticed what, if I was given to such thoughts, would look an awful lot like a secret network of sentries. They stand on street corners in all kinds of neighborhoods and business districts and keep silent watch over the areas in which they live, neither intervening nor abandoning the rapidly changing communities around them.

It seems that everywhere I’ve gone during the last couple months, there is an older Black man standing on a corner somewhere, not hanging out with friends or waiting to cross the street or even talking to himself. Instead, he’s just staring at the people and the cars who pass by, his expression inscrutable.

They wear full beards and close-cropped haircuts, polo shirts and jeans. Their snow white hair suggests a lifetime of wisdom; their quiet stare suggests neither enthusiasm nor judgment, but simply acceptance.

Ajuan Mance


1001 Black Men #738


During her last visit, my partner and I went to brunch with my mom, and this brother was seated a couple tables over form us. Aunt Mary’s Cafe is located in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, and I think it’s fair to say that this is the East Bay breakfast spot of the moment. If you go there on the weekend, there will definitely be a line, but the food is well worth the wait. Both the customers and the staff reflect all the quirkiness and diversity of the city, and the atmosphere is friendly and comfortable.

When you go there, enjoy the people watching; and, when you finally get seated, enjoy the food. I recommend the Hangtown Fry-ttata (eggs and fried oysters with bacon and spinach and fennel mixed in).

Ajuan Mance


1001 Black Men #737


Outside Farmer Joe’s Market, Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, CA.

Ajuan Mance


1001 Black Men #736



At the grocery store, Nob Hill Foods, Alameda, CA.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #735



Open mic night, downtown Oakland, May 2014.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #734



At Jim’s Homestyle Diner, Alameda, CA.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #733



The corner of High St. and Culver, near the Cut Close barbershop, Oakland, CA.

Ajuan Mance