Check out Kimblyn’s interview below!
Kimblyn Bryant has lived in Oakland for over thirty years. She moved to the Fruitvale District in 1984 and currently lives in East Oakland. Reflecting on her childhood, Kimblyn recalls living in a two-parent home in which the whole family regularly ate dinner together and life was fairly routine. But when her parents divorced when she was twelve-years-old, this marked a turning point in her life. She recalls that during her preteen and teenage years, she acquired many of her fears, her shyness, and other personality traits. With her family being uprooted, there were no more family dinners or Saturday chores or nice neighborhood; she was now the child of a single-mother with seven children.
Kimblyn always loved learning and, watching her mother, she learned from her, too. Her mother was always optimistic and brave; Kimblyn never saw her cry or complain. So when she became an adult, inspired by her mother’s example, Kimblyn went out into the world with boldness, with the attitude that nothing would keep her down.
Shortly before graduating from high school, Kimblyn became pregnant. Although she had many goals in life, she had to find work to survive. Many years later, after marriage and having four more children, she found her passion in community organizing. By working with people in her community to help them to find their greatness, Kimblyn was empowered to work through her own struggles as well
Having lived in Oakland for three decades, Kimblyn has been a witness to many of the changes the city has experienced. Tragedies such as the murder of Oscar Grant profoundly impacted her and fueled her work in talking to young black men about how violence in their community is affecting them. Kimblyn has three grandsons of her own, and she would like to see an Oakland in which young people like them can thrive. And while her own future in Oakland is not guaranteed because of the increasingly high cost of living, she is confident about the future of Oakland itself. Like an oak tree, she says, “It cannot be moved, because its roots are so, so deep.”