One early Saturday morning in June, my doorbell buzzed. I stumbled outside in my pajamas, where I was greeted by three unfamiliar women. They told me about Dana King, who is running for City Council in District 2 of Oakland. I got along so well with Dana’s canvassers that I was invited to a BBQ that afternoon, where I met Dana and was instantly charmed by her warmth, humor and commitment to bettering Oakland. I recently sat down with Dana at her home, drinking a homemade almond milk latte and petting her rescue dog, Toy, while learning about her fascinating life.
As Dana puts it, she “comes from a line of strong women.” Her mother was a social worker before joining the Peace Corps when she was 50. Raised on social justice and determination, Dana moved to L.A. from the Midwest at age 22, where she got her start selling cable television door-to-door. After selling airtime at KNBC, she worked her way up to on-air reporter, and eventually served as a lead anchor at stations including CBS and ABC. She won two local Emmys for her work in Honduras reporting on Hurricane Mitch. As if that weren’t impressive enough, she is spending her “retirement” teaching Journalism at Dominican University, painting, sculpting, volunteering every weekend with kids in maximum-security juvenile hall and, oh yeah, running for city council.
When I asked her how running for office is going, she told me “Initially, I’d look in the mirror and say, ‘What have you done!?’, but now I am excited and super energized in a way I haven’t been in twenty years. I love a good fight. I want to fight for Oakland.” You can feel Dana’s excitement for Oakland, from her impassioned stories of her neighbors to her Raiders iPhone case.
Both times I’ve met Dana, I’ve been impressed with her fabulous style. She seemed surprised and told me she hates to shop and hasn’t changed her style in years. And why should she? Her classic, understated style works perfectly for her. During our interview she wore white capris, a patterned navy and white sweater over a simple button-up, topped off with silver hoops and shimmery grey-blue eyeliner. Peeking out from her shiny black flats was her foot tattoo, a Rumi quote: “Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.”
I’ll leave you with Dana’s advice for young women: “As a mother of a young woman, I say, who cares what anybody thinks? Do you. Do what is in your heart and don’t apologize for it. Buy art because you’re supporting an ecosystem of creativity and communication and genius. And fail. Fall flat on your face. Who cares?” You heard it here first, ladies, Dana King wants us all to wear our voice.
To find out more about Dana King, visit danakingforoakland.com