Hardy Brown, Sr. | Publisher Emeritus, Black Voice News
Beginning in the 1990’s, the Black Voice News paid a fundraising membership to the University of Riverside during a time when the school held annual high-level events in Indian Wells.
It was a great way for the institution to raise money from the community while also exposing regional leaders in the Inland Empire to national and international leaders discussing top issues of the day.
To be in the room, sit at the table, and be able to ask questions of these high-profile leaders, you had to pay the expensive membership fee. My wife and I discussed the membership and determined as publishers of the Black Voice News; it was well worth it. . . If you want to be the boss and be in the room—then you must pay the cost.
In December 1994, I attended an event featuring General Colin Powell. Just to give you an idea of who attended the dinner but were not in the room to ask General Powell questions that evening were people like President Gerald and Mrs. Betty Ford, Ambassador Mr. and Mrs. Walter Annenberg, Israeli Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Hope, Chancellor Raymond Orbach of the University of Riverside, Dr. Francis Carney, Professor Emeritus of UCR, Senator David Kelley, Inland Empire businessman Ted Dutton, and a host of other regional policy makers.
The topic of discussion was, “The World in Transition—The Appropriate Role of the Military”. My question to General Powell was, “Why do African Americans feel that a double standard is applied to persons wanting to enter this country? Keeping them out at the Mexican border and letting them in at the Canadian border?” Additionally, “Why do we welcome Cubans and send Haitians back?”
His response was two-fold. First, he answered that Canadians did not want to come here, and the Mexicans did, therefore there was a different policy to address the situation. And, regarding the policy question about Cuba and Haiti, he explained how the relationship with Cuba had long been established and if there was different treatment, it was because of that.
General Powell did approach me after the discussion and said they were good questions of which I knew the answers, but it could not be spoken out loud in public to a crowd like that because it would take some time to convince stakeholders to change their minds.
By me being the only Black person and a newspaper publisher at that, he wanted to know how I got in the room and was able to sit at the table. In other words, he wanted to know who I was.
I must give credit to my friend Jim Erickson who was a vice-chancellor at UCR in charge of development who convinced me that my money would be well spent. We have benefited ten times over from the contacts and relationships started from those events at UCR.
After meeting General Powell and listening to him speak, I can understand why people are in awe of him.
I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet him. May he rest in peace. The world is a better place because of him.