Friends, I hope you enjoyed the first four posts in our series detailing the life of Oakland original pioneer, film maker, engineer, TV host, night club owner–just to name a few titles–Mr. Ed Howard.

Be sure to check out the West Oakland Stories short historical film, as well as the brief documentary “Between Black & White” detailing the historical alliances between Greek & Black communities. Both videos are not to be missed! Among one another, let’s put the No Negative Speak movement into practice.

In our fifth segment, Mr. Howard in his own words shares positive memories from his young adulthood in venturing beyond West Oakland in search of work opportunities.

Photo 1: Lockheed, 1950s.
Photo 2: Ed Howard at Lockheed office, 1950s.
Photo 3: Ed Howard home from work.
Photo 4: Ed Howard present day.

Check out parts 1-4: www.westoaklandstories.org

Apollo Papafrangou

Ed Howard Life Story (Part 5)


1959 – I have completed college, married, one child and no job. I looked for a job in engineering – interviewing in every engineering firm I could find in my field from Oakland to Sacramento; and from Oakland to San Jose. I was not hired because at that time it was very very rare to find any engineering company that would employ a Black man in its work force.

I reverted back to the State of California Unemployment Office to see if they could place me in a job. I was lucky and was placed in a small company on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland – Matt Lawrence Orthopedic design, repair and manufacturer. I obtained experience in layout design of pneumatic and hydraulic valves; procedures and standards; and hands on machinist operator of lathes, drill press, routers, etc. Sadly a few months later I was told by the owner that he liked me and my work very much but his employees, who were all white men, told him that they were not comfortable with me working there, so in spite of my good work, he laid me off two weeks from Christmas 1959.

Now I am out of work again so I go back to Lockheed Aero Space in Sunnyvale California. I had an interview there before but this time I presented my resume and they noticed I had machinist experience – they offered me a job as a Radial Router Operator. Once I got in, I started to read all the signs, posters and company information that I could. I discovered that after a three-month probation period in the company you could apply for any of the in-house jobs posted in the plant. A post for an Engineering Electro/Mechanical Layout Designer was posted – I applied and got the job.

At Lockheed I was exposed to the highest level of Engineering Technology because they had the contract to design the Polaris Missile for the U S Government. I was introduced to the new engineering technology of that time – the printer circuitry board using electronic design schematics with electronic components such as diodes, resistors, transistors, etc.; and the appropriate mechanical design to house all the electronic.

Next: Part 6 – My Journey to Kaiser Engineers. Some people say I had a lot to do with Oakland not burning in the 1960’s because of the things I was involved in at Kaiser Engineering, and being on the Kaiser Industries Advisory Board of Directors, Oakland California from 1963-1970. Stay tuned.

Follow Ed Howard’s Story! Click link for episodes 1,2,3&4 (www.westoaklandstories.org)

Copyright © 2020, West Oakland Stories Positive Feeling Movement Organization

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