Merritt College

Coordinates: 37°47′19.72″N 122°9′59.01″W / 37.7888111°N 122.1663917°W / 37.7888111; -122.1663917
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Merritt College
TypePublic community college
Parent institution
California Community Colleges, Peralta Community College District
PresidentDavid M. Johnson
Location, ,

37°47′19.72″N 122°9′59.01″W / 37.7888111°N 122.1663917°W / 37.7888111; -122.1663917
CampusSuburban: 125 acres (0.5 km²)
Colors    Royal Blue, Gold and White

Merritt College is a public community college in Oakland, California. Merritt, like the other three campuses of the Peralta Community College District, is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The college enrolls approximately 6,000 students.


Merritt College (named for physician Samuel Merritt) was opened as a general campus in 1954. Merritt College was originally located on Grove Street in North Oakland but later moved to Campus Drive in the hills of East Oakland.

Grove Street[edit]

The original Merritt College was located at what is now 5714 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (then called Grove Street) in the flatlands of North Oakland. In 1923, the campus of University High School was built for children of faculty of the University of California in Berkeley. The campus closed during World War II, but was reopened as the Merritt School of Business in 1946. In 1954, the Oakland Unified School District, then operating the Merritt campus and the Laney Trade and Technical School, formed Oakland Junior College (later renamed Oakland City College).[1] In 1960, the same year as the opening of Skyline High School, OUSD decided to relocate Merritt College from Grove Street to the hills of East Oakland.[2]

Although the demographics of North Oakland changed throughout the 1950s and 1960s, it was not until the mid-to-late-1960s that the student and faculty population began to change. After the 1960 California Master Plan for Public Higher Education, more Black students began to attend Merritt. In the early 1960s, the Afro-American Association began recruiting Merritt students. By 1964, students formed the Soul Students Advisory Council, predecessors to the Black Student Union (BSU). Merritt Community College was the meeting place for prominent leaders of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. The two met in September 1962 and shortly after began organizing the Black Panther Party. There were many public displays of unrest on the campus during this time, speaking to the Cuban blockade, the black experience, and other political topics. The two leaders also attended many politically charged classes at the school such as experimental sociology, Black History, and Negro History. This occurred in September 1966 and started as Huey and Bobby brainstorming a ten-point platform. As the two grew closer, they first became involved in local organizations in Oakland only to eventually create their own.[3]

Against numerous protests by students and community members, Merritt was relocated from Grove Street to the hills of East Oakland in 1971. Merritt was renamed North Peralta Community College but was commonly known as Grove Street College. In 1975, a judge ordered the physical plant closed for seismic issues.[4] The Grove Street campus was used as the primary filming location for the 1987 film, "The Principal."[citation needed]

This site, now rehabilitated and serving as the north campus of the Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.[5][6][7][8]

Campus Drive[edit]

Aerial view of the present campus in 2020

The present campus was opened in 1971. Funding came primarily as a result of a 1965 bond issue which also established a new downtown Oakland ("Civic Center") campus building for Laney College and the founding of the College of Alameda.

Occupational programs[edit]

Merritt College's occupational programs include nursing and health professions, community social services/substance abuse counseling, environmental management and technology, cybersecurity, computer information systems, landscape horticulture and environmental management, paralegal studies, real estate and restoration technology. A one-year Microscopy Certificate is also offered.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]

Oakland City College, Merritt campus[edit]

Merritt College[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donna Murch, "Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California," University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  2. ^ Rasheed El Shabazz, "'Mau Mau Tech': The Making of a Black University in Oakland, California, 1960-1970," UC Berkeley McNair Scholars Journal, Spring 2014
  3. ^ Seale, Bobby. Seize The Time (book). Black Classic Press, 1970, p. 12-59.
  4. ^ Shabazz, "'Mau Mau Tech'"
  5. ^ "University High School - Archiplanet". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
  6. ^ "Merritt College and Peralta District History Archive". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
  7. ^ City of Oakland, Oakland History Timeline Archived 2013-06-15 at the Wayback Machine, accessed May 24, 2007
  8. ^ "National Register of Historical Places - CALIFORNIA (CA), Alameda County". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Home - Career & Technical Education". Career & Technical Education. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Black Panther Party - American organization". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Huey P. Newton". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  12. ^ Parkins, Hannah (2020). "Pharoah Sanders". The Oakland Artists Project. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  13. ^ Flanagan, Andrew; Chinen, Nate (September 24, 2022). "Pharoah Sanders, giant of spirit-driven jazz, dies at 81". NPR. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  14. ^ Corcoran, Nina (September 24, 2022). "Pharoah Sanders dies at 81". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  15. ^ "Seale, Bobby (1936--) - The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  16. ^ "A Huey P. Newton Story - People - Bobby Seale - PBS". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Glenn Burke Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  18. ^ "Master P : Peralta Colleges". Retrieved 14 November 2017.

External links[edit]