Mural for slain journalist Chauncey Bailey unveiled at his alma mater
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
HAYWARD — As a teenager with a stutter, Chauncey Bailey spent a lot of time in the library at Hayward High School immersing himself in books so he wouldn’t have to talk to people.
The stutter went away, but Bailey’s love of the written word did not. He spent nearly 40 years in journalism before being gunned down as he walked to his job as editor of the Oakland Post on Aug. 2, 2007.
Now, a mural of Bailey adorns the outside of the library, the result of a three-year push from a student intent on creating a lasting memorial to Bailey, who graduated from the school in 1967.
The mural was unveiled Thursday, followed by a tribute to Bailey.
“He inspired me because he came from where I came from,” said the student, Jamil Holmes, a senior who is president of the school’s Black Student Union. “Why he was killed is very sad story. I wanted the mural to pay tribute.”
Jamil, 17, who hopes to become a physiologist, raised $600 from the Hayward Chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action and commissioned a local artist, Ricardo Lazo, to paint the mural.
Lazo admitted he knew little of Bailey except that he worked for newspapers in Oakland and was allegedly killed by a member of Your Black Muslim Bakery to keep a story out of the Post. Those accused in Bailey’s murder are awaiting trial in Oakland.
The mural depicts Bailey as a young man dressed in a tuxedo and also as a middle-aged reporter in a jacket and tie. In the center of the mural Lazo painted a street sign of 14th and Alice streets, the intersection where Bailey died.
“Everything comes full circle to 14th and Alice,” Lazo said.
Bailey’s half-brother, Errol Cooley, who has said little about the murder, attended the unveiling at the school.
“I feel a lot of love here,” Cooley said. The mural and Jamil’s effort’s to get it finished “tells the students anything is possible.”
Still, Cooley said, any event tied to his brother’s death is painful. The mural unveiling came the same day a judge ruled that the trial of two men charged with Bailey’s murder won’t be moved out of Oakland. A jury for the trial is expected to be empaneled March 21, and opening statements could begin immediately thereafter.
Cooley said the family is grateful the case will be tried in the city his brother loved. He said he thought of the unveiling “as a warm-up” to the court proceedings in terms of dealing with the emotions that will arise.
“But this is positive,” he said. “Chauncey is looking down on all of us.”
School Principal George Bullis said Jamil deserved credit for staying with his idea to honor Bailey.
“He motivated himself,” Bullis said. “Having a student take the initiative to pursue resources of the school and the community and alumni is an outstanding effort.”
Follow investigative reporter Thomas Peele at Twitter.com/thomas_peele.