Black public officials gathered for a reception Monday evening, January 24, 2020. It was a great opportunity for locally elected officials to come together from various parts of the region.
The event, sponsored by the Blu Education Foundation and Southern California Edison, was hosted by City of Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott and Rialto Councilmembers Joe Baca Jr., Rafael Trujillo and Andy Carrizales.
As explained by Blu Educational Foundation President/CEO Dina Walker, the group’s mission is to build leadership within those elected to office for civic engagement in the Inland Empire.
During the evening a small panel of elected officials shared their experiences regarding how they were elected to office, the benefits of building coalitions within the community in which they live and having confidence in themselves as key ingredients needed to run for office.
Pictured are some of Inland Empire Black Elected Officials in attendance
Back Row: Hardy Brown II San Bernardino County School Board of Education Member; David Starr Rabb Perris City Council Member: Walter Allen Covina City Council; Member Joseph Williams San Bernardino Community College Trustee; Danny Tillman San Bernardino Unified School District Board Member; Cleveland Johnson Moreno Valley Unified School District Board Member; Channing Hawkins West Valley Water District Board Member;
Front Row: Barbara McGee Rialto City Clerk; Virniecia Green Jordan Perris Elementary School District Board Member; Colleen Wallace Banning City Council Member; Deborah Robertson Rialto Mayor; Dina Walker Rialto School Board Member and Host CEO of Blu Educational Foundation; Stevonna Evans Adelanto City Council Member; Bessine Richard San Bernardino City Council Member; Gwen Rodgers San Bernardino Unified School District Board Member and Anthony Kelly, Jurupa Valley Mayor.
However, guest speaker Dr. Daniel Walker gave a history lesson on political engagement in America going back to the reconstruction era which followed the civil war and related it to the Inland Empire. He pointed out how Ted Davis, a local community activist in Fontana, brought the late Robert Kennedy to North Fontana back in the sixties through his civic engagement and he was not an elected official.
I might add to his story that during that time he was fighting the Ku Klux Klan. According to newspaper articles at the time—Ted was protesting Klan activities alongside Rev. William Dunston, President of Rialto NAACP.
Dr. Walker pointed to those in attendance and stressed how you have to get and stay engaged in order to be effective as an elected official. He gave several examples but highlighted the “Unbought and Unbossed” Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn as being the first African American to run for president paving the way for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to run; and later, Barack Obama to become president.
In addition to the Blu Education Foundation, the League of California Cities African American Caucus, Westside Action Group and Black Voice News also supported the reception.
The reception was made possible with financial support from Edison. Edison has a long history of assisting Blacks in their efforts to provide leadership in the local community. I know because they supported me and Don Griggs to help sponsor Boy Scout Troops back in the late 60’s when we were employees at Edison.
Header Photo: Hardy Brown, Sr.Contributor. Photo by Benoit Maphettes