Meet the Oakland creator using augmented reality to bring Black history to life

ByJulian Glover and Jason Beal Localish logo
Friday, February 17, 2023
Oakland creator brings Black history to life
Damien McDuffie created an app that uses AR to make historical Black Panther Party murals around Oakland an educational and immersive experience.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- If you walk around Oakland, you'll see a number of bold, colorful murals and public art displays nodding to the rich Black history created in the streets they fill.

Damien McDuffie, a creative technologist and digital archivist, is using tech to bring that public art to life with his app Black Terminus AR.

McDuffie creates these seamless immersions using augmented reality - a mix of the digital and physical world.

All you do is open up the Black Terminus AR app, point the camera at any of the 25 public art displays in West Oakland activated by the technology, and watch the magic happen.

"I'm amazed every single time that it works. I am amazed that people use it. I'm amazed that artists use it," said McDuffie.

McDuffie was first inspired by augmented reality after visiting AR museums in Thailand and Japan in 2019. That's when the lightbulb went off.

He's now using this technology to create a Black Panther history walking tour in West Oakland.

McDuffie is breathing new life into murals like the 2000-square-foot mural on the side of Jilchristina Vest's home at Center Street and Dr. Huey P. Newton Way honoring the Women of the Black Panther Party.

"I want people to be able to come to our city and have an experience that allows them to see the city and walk around, but also learn about the history in an immersive way," said McDuffie.

To see a full list of public art activated by the app click the "explore" tab in the Black Terminus AR app.