Nov 30, 2023
2 mins read
2 mins read

Show highlights stories of Oceanside’s black pioneers

OCEANSIDE — A local historian, business owner and theater professor are once again teaming up to present a performance showcasing the accomplishments of Oceanside’s black pioneers.

According to Kristi Hawthorne, director of the Oceanside Historical Society, “Generational Black Pioneers – Featuring Oceanside Firsts” will recreate powerful and impactful moments in the 1960s to the present, depicting the turmoil and challenges that brought long-awaited change.

Hawthorne collaborated with Rushell Gordon, owner of Bliss Tea and Treats, and Linda Bisesti, professor emeritus of theatre and dance at Cal Poly Pomona, to create “Generational Black Pioneers.”

Now in its second year, the show was first held last February. According to Hawthorne, the sold-out show was “enthusiastically received” by the audience at the time

One of the stories told in the first production was that of Charlesetta Reece Allen, an early black resident of Oceanside who was first the black business owner as well as the organizer of both the first Oceanside Girls Club and the local NAACP.

Allen lived a life of purpose and service to others, Hawthorne noted

“We are proud that our focus on her life will result in the Seagaze Post Office being renamed in her honor in 2024,” Hawthorne announced. “Another first to be sure.”

With this year’s show set in the 1960s – right in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement and the turmoil of the Vietnam War – the production seeks to show the parallel of the very real struggles still being faced today.

Stories will include the first black teachers in Oceanside’s school district; Oceanside’s first black mayor, Terry Johnson, who was also the first black mayor in San Diego County; the first black police chief, Kedrick Sadler, who assumed the title earlier this year; and the first black president of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, Robbie Hass.

Presented by Oceanside Theatre Company, Oceanside Historical Society and Bliss Tea and Treats, this year will offer two shows on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 18, 2024 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sunshine Brooks Theatre, located at 217 N. Coast Highway in Oceanside.

Interested sponsors can contact Hawthorne or Gordon. Sponsorship is tax deductible through the Oceanside Historical Society, a non-profit organization.