Dell Roberts(Center) stands with past winners of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award.
Dell Roberts(Center) stands with past winners of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award. Credit: Prince James Story, BVN

Prince James Story |

Thursday night, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce held its 123rd annual celebration at the Riverside Convention Center. It was their first in-person ceremony since 2019. 

Businesses of all sizes gathered together for the ceremony honoring individuals who have significantly impacted other people’s lives in Riverside. 

While multiple awards were given to business and community members during the ceremony, there was no applause as loud as when community leader and civil rights icon Dell Roberts was presented with the 2022 Citizen of the Year Award.

“I have known this man for almost 45 years, and in that time, he has represented the best that our city has to offer you. So I’m honored to introduce an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership throughout the years,” Nick Goldware said. 

A tribute video was played about Roberts that featured prominent community members describing him as an honorable, extraordinary, gravitas leader. 

“Dell’s biggest contribution to the community has been unifying people. So whether it’s rich and poor, Black and white, have and have nots, Dell brings these people together,” said Riverside Unified School District Superintendent Renee Hill. 

A history of service to the community

Roberts has a long history of service in the inland region. In 1968, he co-founded the Black Students Union at local high schools. In 1979, he co-founded the Riverside Black History Month Committee, and in 1980, he co-created the Black History Parade, just to name a few of his contributions.

Over the years, Roberts has received multiple awards for his service to the community, including the Chuck Kane Award, the YWCA Achievement Award, the 2007 Bank of America Local Hero Award, and the Roy Hord Volunteer of the Year Award.

Last year, Roberts was awarded the Frank Miller Civic Achievement Award for 2022. The award is given to individuals, couples, or groups who have made significant contributions to the city and community of Riverside. 

“I don’t expect any of the awards,” Roberts said. “I enjoy helping people and connecting the dots. I love when things come together.” 

Roberts said he loves working with the youth and would like more opportunities for them outside of  the classroom. 

On the current state of the Riverside community Roberts had this to say, “We’ve  come a long way … we have a long way to go, you know, to bring the city up where there’s equity, and there’s not equity right now. But it’s getting better.” 

Roberts retired from Riverside Unified School District in 2003 after 38 years of service.

Report for America Corps member and Black Voice News Climate and Environmental Justice reporter, Prince James Story was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an intersectional journalist with experience covering news and sports across numerous mediums. Story aims to inform the public of social inequities and discriminatory practices while amplifying the voices of those in the communities harmed. Story earned his master’s degree in Sports Journalism from Arizona State University-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He earned a B.A. in Mass Communication and a B.A. in African American studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Contact Prince James with tips, comments, or concerns at or via Twitter @PrinceJStory.