1973 6

Joshua "Josh" R. Rose (September 11, 1906 – April 13, 1987) had a lengthy and extremely productive career with the Oakland YMCA; was the first Black to serve on the Board of Playground Directors, of which he later became Chairman; was the first Black on the Oakland City Council; and was an active member in many community organizations.

Born in Lexington, Virginia, the son of George and Mary Charles Rose, the family later moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Rose attended Schenley High School. Rose received his Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh while working part-time at the local steel mills and the Pittsburgh YMCA, graduating in 1937.

The Pittsburgh YMCA job lead to Rose's first position after graduation at the Montclair, New Jersey YMCA.

Rose and his family moved from New Jersey to Oakland in 1939, where he raised funds for the establishment of a branch of the Oakland YMCA to serve the Black community. The Northwest Branch (aka the Northwest Oakland YMCA) or the M. Robinson Baker YMCA, as it was eventually called, opened at a temporary location at 36th Street and San Pablo Avenue in 1947. Later in the 1940s the branch moved to 3265 Market Street. Many new programs were inaugurated under Rose's leadership, such as summer day camps that combined traditional elements of arts and crafts, with sports and outdoor excursions, and a camping trip to Yosemite. Rose worked throughout his career to provide many Oakland youth with constructive activities and summertime employment through the YMCA's programs. In 1967 Rose retired as Associate General Secretary of the Metropolitan Branch of the YMCA. 1

During his time at the Y, he served as a mentor to many future leaders, including Thomas L. Berkley, Sam Golden, Godwin Taylor, and Lionel Wilson. 2

Rose was appointed to city council in 1964 to replace Robert McKeen who had resigned. 3 He was handily elected in 1964, 4 and served until 1977. He suffered serious injuries in an automobile accident and retired from council, but he continued to serve the community, including as treasurer at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church. 7 In 1977, Carter Gilmore was elected to council, and Lionel Wilson was elected mayor.

He married Virginia Craft Rose; their daughter is historian and author Mary Ellen Butler. She wrote a book about her parents: Heart and Soul: The Remarkable Courtship and Marriage of Josh and Virginia Craft Rose. The Roses lived at 856 - 32nd St. in Hoover-Foster, not far from the M. Robinson Baker YMCA. 1

On April 13, 1987, Rose died of complication from Parkinson's Disease.

YMCA board, c.1940. Josh Rose is standing on the left. 5

Links and References

  1. Josh Rose To Quit As 'Y' Leader Oakland Tribune February 14, 1967
  2. Northwest Branch YMCA Black Liberation Walking Tour
  3. Councilman Rose Casts First Votes Oakland Tribune September 2, 1964
  4. Vote Landslide For Incumbents Oakland Tribune April 21, 1965
  5. MS189_0978 African American Museum and Library at Oakland
  6. MS189_1089 African American Museum and Library at Oakland
  7. Joshua Rose BlackPast.org