Category Archives: San Leandro

1001 Black Men #977


This guy was one of the people in the audience at a panel discussion I participated in at the San Leandro Public Library. The topic was voting rights, and my fellow panelists were Ronald Moore, Board Member of the Alameda County Paul Robeson Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California; Penny Peck, Secretary of the League of Women Voters, Eden Area; and Donald Tamaki, an attorney at Minami Tamaki LLP in San Francisco and former executive director of the Asian Law Caucus representing Asian Americans in civil rights and poverty law. This panel took place on September 8, nearly two months to the day before the recent presidential election. I don’t usually get a chance to speak at community events like this one, and I was impressed with both the turnout and the truly warm welcome we received. While the man in this drawing was not among the people who asked questions, I did notice him nodding and taking notes during each of the panelist’s introductory statements. That felt good, too. I’m a 19th-century African American literature specialist, not an expert on voting rights. So, it’s kind of amazing that anything I said might have ended up in somebody’s notebook.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #909


I always notice a gentleman in a scarf. The man in this drawing was waiting in line at my favorite coffee shop. The haughty expression on this man’s face appeared to reflect his judgement of the people around him, the arrangement of the space, or both. Chances are, though, that he was simply lost in his own thoughts, with little attention to the rest of us or to the setting’s decor.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #902


I recently walked into a Chili’s restaurant. I was in the midst of a long and stressful workday, and I need to get away from my office to relax and clear my head. I was looking for a sports-oriented restaurant where I could watch a little ESPN or Fox Sports  and have some buffalo wings.

Curiously enough, Chili’s does not serve buffalo wings. They do, however, begin their happy hour at 11am. That likely explains the number of people seated at the bar in the middle of the day. The man in this drawing was part of a multi-racial, multi-ethnic group of construction workers seated around the bar enjoying French fries, televised sports, and large glasses of beer. For a few minutes, I sat at a nearby table taking in the surroundings and imagining what it must be like to go to work so early in the morning, that after work drinks begin around 2pm.

Then, after confirming that the only buffalo “wings” at Chili’s are boneless (in other words, breaded chunks of chicken breast with no dark meat anywhere in sight), I got up from my table and headed back out to my car.

Next time I’m seeking the peaceful diversion of sports and spicy wings, I’ll stop in for lunch at Ricky’s Sports Theater. They’ve got over 90 screens of sports programming, and chicken wings are always on the menu.

Ajuan Mance


1001 Black Men #835


I first noticed the man in this picture at Zocalo cafe in San Leandro. Part of the reason he caught my attention is because I’d been reading a lot about Black dandies and preppies, and he reminded me of the men in The Black Ivy, that amazing photo gallery at A few days later, I spotted him a second time, in downtown Oakland. I’d never seen this man anywhere before, and all of a sudden we were crossing paths twice in one week. If the universe was telling me to make him one of my 1001 Black Men, then who was I to say no.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #719



My second sketch in that meeting was of a guy I remember from a recent trip to–that’s right–the Zocalo Coffeehouse in San Leandro. After changing owners and then closing for remodeling, it’s baaaaack! I’ve missed Zocalo and, at the risk of sounding overly sentimental, going back to my favorite cafe was like seeing an old friend after a long period apart.

Welcome back, Zocalo. It wasn’t the same without you.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #686


Staples, San Leandro, California.

There’s a certain kind of brother who knows he’s doing something really special when he puts on a white tie. You know kind of man to about whom I’m referring. He tends to be middle-aged, with diamond stud earrings or 23 carat gold hoops, and he’s got a super clean, freshly-trimmed hairline. His style consciousness is arrested in time, and his way of accessorizing and dressing recalls the decade during which he came of age. For this man, it was the early 1990s.

Ajuan Mance