Black History Month: Oakland skate park creator inspires Bay Area youth

Landing a skateboard trick is tough, but behind every mistake is a lesson; don’t give up. Through hard work, dedication and passion when you finally get it, it’s amazing.

That same lesson is what motivated Keith Williams, better known as K Dub, to create Oakland’s first skatepark. Years of work for the final product, Town Park.

“Let’s have this town be active and lively and safe for young people,” said K Dub.

K Dub combined his love for helping youth, skateboarding and art, as a former teacher at Oakland High School, to create this space years ago, but it wasn’t easy.

It started with the City of Oakland first allowing him to use the space at DeFremery Park. He put wooden ramps in the lot and eventually, with the support of Oakland Parks and Recreation and donations, he built cement structures and completed Town Park about three years ago.

“We see so many young people that come up here sitting down on a skateboard, cruising around then they’re able to stand up. See them overcoming their fears, see them getting the help and assistance from the locals in the community,” said K Dub.

It’s support and motivation they may not get at home, but because of K Dub’s vision of Town Park they have place to go where they feel encouraged.

“It’s like a big family here like everybody that comes through knows everybody,” said skateboarder Mario Cuevas.

Cuevas has been skateboarding here since before it was transformed to Town Park, “It was just like a giant tennis court,” he said. For him it’s more than just a sport. He’s a recovering addict and says having a place to skate right here in Oakland gives him the outlet he needs.

“There’s definitely been days where I’m just like, ‘I’d rather use,’ but then I see my board sitting in the corner and I just grab it and hop out and shred around and I just forget about everything else,” said Cuevas.

Town Park is a big hit in the community and K Dub isn’t done yet. He says he’s eyeing a few more locations around Oakland for potential new skateparks, “East Oakland or the north or other places we can have kids in different communities have a place like this.”

K Dub also hosts events and workshops at and around Town Park, but he’s modest, crediting Oakland Parks and Rec and others for what’s become of the skatepark.

“If everybody does a little bit that helps that makes a community,” he said.

For the people K Dub influenced along his journey, they know how important he is in The Town, “He’s just been doing so much for this community since before this park it’s insane,” said Cuevas.