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Hardy L. Brown

Flowers Gone from Earth's Garden to the Lord's Table

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During the past two years and recent months, God has been pruning his flower garden at St. Paul AME Church. Lillian Taylor a retired employee at Kaiser Permanente, Chart Room Department Fontana; Alveria Taylor my political consultant on the Delman Heights community; Ruth Kelley a student of mine when I was teaching the adult Sunday School class and the most recent is Joshua (J.R.) Humphrey a singer. Bro. Humphrey was in the male choir with me over a decade ago. Now there are others that have been plucked from the St. Paul garden over the past few years but these were planted close to me so when they left, it was noticed plus we all had a special relationship that went beyond the church walls.

SIS. ALVERIA TAYLOR was connected with me in serving the community of San Bernardino in Delman Heights for over thirty years. She knew and understood that community better than anyone living there and would not hesitate to tell you. This is the forgotten community she would often say to me.

SIS. LILLIAN TAYLOR worked with me at Kaiser and from time to time she would give me advice on employee issues. She never sought the spotlight but would not hesitate to share her thoughts with me in confidence. She was the kind of person that made me look good when I acted on her advice.

SIS. RUTH KELLEY was a supporter and was always encouraging me to reach higher than I thought I could go. She would read my editorials and send words of encouragement to me through her daughter Betty Taylor. She was also a good singer and program organizer of special events.

BRO. JOSHUA HUMPHREY was the kind of man that would not let you quit. When we started the male choir and would only have a few members show up for practice, Josh would say let the show go on. We sung on the fourth Sunday and would meet at my house Sunday morning to practice for that morning’s service. Regina Manning of Riverside, was our musical director with other members such as Rev. Art Forbes and his three sons, Rev. John Woods and his sons, Rev. Alex Powell and others. But we would come together and JR would always take the lead if need be. Bro. Humphrey was also the guy that kept the group laughing with his humor.

Not a member of the St. Paul family but a friend of every pastor that served in the pulpit was Bob Holcomb, former Mayor of San Bernardino. We could count on him to visit, add to the collection plate and provide city services as needed or requested. When Rev. Jacks was president of the ministerial alliance, Holcomb would lead other elected officials to give at all special services if they wanted to speak. When Holcomb took office he took action and removed shotguns from the city fire trucks put there by the previous mayor. When the community refused to seat the Black History Queen on the Rose Bowl Float in Pasadena, it was Holcomb that helped to get Gannett News to pressure the Sun Newspaper editor to soften their position. The queen did get to ride on the float with a lot of help from the community and Black Voice News. Holcomb was a very progressive and controversial man, so when Jesse Jackson ran for president in the eighties it was Mayor Bob Holcomb who gave Jackson his endorsement at New Hope Baptist Church. Many people told Holcomb this would cost him his own election but he was convinced Jackson was the best candidate at the time. When I ran for office, Holcomb was right there as a supporter.

Like I said earlier, there are others that have been plucked from the garden in the Inland Empire and now grace the Lord’s Table but these people had a special place in my life.

Tribute To My Big Brother Floyd On His 75th Birthday

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On December 1st my big brother, Floyd Wesley Brown turned 75 and his wife Carolyn and four sons invited us all to celebrate with a party/tribute for him. Of course this was a time to travel down memory lane of one’s life. Of course being younger you can only reflect on that portion of which you know or what someone older has shared with you.

Things I remember about us is following him to the barn to feed the livestock and milk the cows. He taught me how to milk the cows and portion the feed for the mules. Of course you would have to wash the cows utter bag before milking so no dirt would fall into the milk. In the winter, he would build a small fire to warm our hands plus cows do not like cold hands on their utters.

During the brief time our father was in the logging business, Floyd was a truck driver hauling the cut up trees to the mill and he would take me with him sometimes. That was a lot of fun plus I learned a lot about the making of paper and other things out of wood used in our society. I also learned how you need to drive a truck on unpaved roads, thanks to my big brother.

My younger brother, Donnie, loves to tell the story of Floyd surprising the family by coming home one cold winter night when he was in the Army. Donnie and I were camping outside in the yard in our pup tent. It was around two in the morning when I heard the car pull up in the yard and there Floyd was standing in the car light wearing his uniform. It was a sight to see him and left an unforgettable imprint on us as younger sibling to this man in an Uncle Sam uniform.

It was fifty years ago that I came to California with him. He was stationed at George Air Force Base in Victorville and I stayed in Los Angeles. I remember traveling on highway 70 as it wound through the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee before we came to the fast Oklahoma Turnpike. All of that was a breeze when you think of the blinding evening sun on the heavily traveled Route 66 and those big trucks.

It was a long journey and now I can truly say we have come a long way from the tobacco fields of North Carolina, thanks to my big brother Floyd.

God has truly been good to you as he has blessed you with a great wife and fine children and grandchildren. You have been a great example of what a big brother is supposed to do for others. As you look at this milestone in the aging process and head for the century mark it is time for celebration.

Have a wonderful day and many more to come.

Josie Gonzales for Chair of SB County Board of Supervisors

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After any election whether public or private, the organization or governing body goes through a reorganization of leadership and committee assignments. Those with the responsibility to assist in the process take into account the mission, public image, a person’s knowledge of the organization and leadership skills to bring it all together at the specified moment in time. We have just concluded the midterm elections and in Washington, D.C., new party leaders have been selected. The state is in the process of going through the same process and some local governments are doing the same thing.

In San Bernardino County we have an exceptionally knowledgeable person in Josie Gonzales. She has the leadership skills to deliver the county mission of service to the people while improving the image of county government. Josie is a life-long resident of the county and understands the diversity of its people and businesses. She grew up in a family business and knows the ins and outs of creating jobs and meeting a payroll. Her years of serving on the Fontana City Council give her experience of what city officials have to contend with in trying to deliver service to their citizens. And surely her serving as the current vice chair of the board demonstrates her leadership abilities. She has served as County Supervisor longer than any of the current supervisors.

Josie has served a short time in this position, with some of the elected officials who serve beside her having personal agendas which Josie professionally ignored. Her integrity, which is one quality needed at this time, is undeniable.

Her service to all citizens, regardless of race, gender, age, stature is remarkable. She has consistently supported programs for seniors and our youth. It was just a few years ago that the First 5 program was under fire and the assignment was given to Josie. Programs got funded, mismanagement was corrected, new policies were put in place, and the community and agency were able to do what they do best: provide services to people. The same is true when it comes to representing us before other levels of government in the state and nation.

Yes Josie has served us well and I encourage the other four supervisors to elect Josie as their chair of the board.

Kamala Harris is Attorney General of California

It is now official that Kamala Harris has been elected the next Attorney General for the State of California, thus making her the first female and African American to hold this position. We have come a long way on this journey of electing people of color with outstanding qualifications. I knew she had won the day after the election when I saw the margin of victory for the other Democrats seeking statewide office. So I ran the story of her victory on the 4th of November. We ran another one this week because it is now official.

It was not that long ago when I witnessed some of my fellow Democratic citizens in San Bernardino tell the late Enola Holt, a stanch Democrat, they just could not vote for then gubernatorial candidate Tom Bradley to become governor. Of course Holt fired back of her disappointment in them because she had voted for years in support of their candidates who did not have her best interest at heart.

Democrats and Republican have learned some things since then when it comes to voting for people to win elections. Race and gender is important but the percentage of those who cannot pull the level for either is growing smaller and smaller, while the number of good qualified people of color and women is increasing.

Kamala Harris fits the bill on two counts as a woman and as an African American. Congratulations to my friend Kamala Harris.

Something To Be Thankful For

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One of the gospel songs I listen to everyday when I get into the office is “Jesus, You’ve Been Good To Me” by Willie Neal Johnson. It begins with the words: “Jesus you’ve been good to me, you woke me up early this morning, clothed me in my right mind.” That within its self is enough but that is not what I am grateful and thankful for. What I am thankful for begun before I made it to the office. After He wakes me up, I need help from my wife to get out of bed. She helps me get dressed with all of the personal hygiene preparation -- washing, shaving and grooming. Then it is my schedule of breakfast and medicines I have to take. When she is not doing it Hardy II is right there to do the same thing. Thanks to Sonietta my daughter in law, I now have a bed side rail to help me with turning in bed and getting out of bed. This daily ritual takes about two hours and we have tried to take shortcuts without much success. We have found that with my situation getting in a rush creates other problems for me, so in some cases I will have them leave me behind which creates another trip. Also when that happens they have to make sure I have water or juice to drink so I can watch television in comfort. I am sure you are wondering, if I can’t get out of bed how can I get around? Well Cheryl made sure I have one of those comfortable chairs that have a power lift built into it. As a matter of fact, I have two power chairs thanks to Roy Mason.

I cannot get to the office unless they take me because I am not able to drive and sometimes I need assistance getting into and out of the car. Once I get to the office they have to make sure I have food to eat and water to drink. Cheryl and Hardy do it with a smile.

At night the ritual is repeated with much help from Sonietta who has my dinner ready for me when I get home from the office. All of them including my granddaughters Jordan and Peyton, make sure I have something sweet to knock the hunger pains down at night. Jordan, with help sometimes from Peyton the two-year-old, also helps me with my leg exercises. I don’t want to forget that they have a small Yorkshire dog that has become quite possessive of me and my chair so she is now a part of this routine.

Almost on a daily basis I will get a call or email from Paulette, Regina, Kennedy or Renee. They keep me up-to-date on local, state political and labor issues. This Thanksgiving Day Kurt, Regina, Kennedy and Reagan are making a special trip from Sacramento to be home to make my day complete. My son-in-law Kurt has a new job as City Manager for Ridgecrest, so he has been busy adjusting to these new duties. My other son-in-law Kerby was honored by the University of California, Riverside as Distinguished Alumni for Service. My grandsons James, Justin, Jonathan and his wife Vanessa are all gainfully employed and their families are doing well and happy. Alexander turned eighteen and has been attending Riverside Community College while finishing high school at the same time.

On Sundays Cheryl has established this special family day at the house for dinner with the kids and grandkids. Rickerby, Paulette, and Alex had developed this custom of stopping by Mommie Helen’s Bakery to bring a pie or cobbler to the house.

I know you are wondering, with all that eating, Hardy should be as big as a house. Well believe it or not eating three balanced meals a day with vegetables and fruit has kept my weight under control. This is something I would recommend for anyone. It is too bad I did not slow down and do it sooner. I give God all of the credit for this weight control plan.

While I have been blessed with such a wonderful family, my church family and community keep me prayed up with prayers of intersession so God does not forget me. Pastor Larry Campbell comes by faithfully to talk with me and make sure I have communion. I have five sisters and three brothers who check in on me with phone calls and they in turn tell the other ones I am doing alright. Our mother and father taught us to be each others keeper.

I have been blessed to have some supportive people in our business ventures of Black Voice News, Black Voice Foundation, BPC MediaWorks and California Black Media. I will not name all of them but two I have to mention are Lee Ragin and Ashley Jones. Lee has worked for us for over 16 years and Ashley has worked closely with me in developing California Black Media. These business ventures have had the support of Macy’s, Nordstrom, San Manuel Band Of Mission Indians, Seibert, Brandford, Shank & Co., March LifeCare and all of the local churches and Black owned business establishments you see advertising each week.

Also a part of my gratefulness is for my doctor at Kaiser, Joseph Paredes and the electronic access to him and my medical records. Through it I can access my medical history, email him, review my visit write ups, order medicine and most of all get full explanations on lab work. This has been just great because he is more than my doctor but a friend.

I was telling Paulette and Alexander just last week that it was fifty years ago this November that I came to California with my brother, Floyd and made all this “Wonderful Life” possible. Yes I have something to be thankful for and I thank Jesus each and every day for them because it keeps me focused on Him and not my situation.

Have a safe traveling day and tell your family and friends you love them this Thanksgiving as you come together around the table. This is also National Family Caregivers Month so I have to again thank my family for the quality care they are giving to me.

Moreno Valley Black Barbers Showed Courage Under Pressure

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I was not going to respond to the settlement reached by ACLU and the Black barbers in Moreno Valley against the city police department until my reporter said current Police Chief John Anderson wanted to respond and defend their position. As we strive for what is fair and balanced, we are more than happy to tell all sides of the story.

One thing that prompted me to write this editorial is the chief requesting that a reporter from the Press Enterprise sit in on the interview to report out as well. I have nothing against the PE because Ron Redfern and I have a wonderful relationship as well as his staff. When Chris Levister told us that they wanted to have someone in the room who would be more than likely be Anglo, it brought back memories of the reason the Black press was born in 1827. Our mantra is “Pleading our own cause,” to speak for ourselves, because for too long others spoke for us. I wonder how Chief Anderson would feel if Chris had requested that the U.S. Justice Department, Civil Rights Division send a Black representative to the meeting to see if he would tell the truth? I am proud of the fact Chris told him in a very professional manner her qualifications and that she would not meet with him on the issue that he had with the coverage of an article that ran in our newspaper. From my training in Discrimination Law from USC Law School this is one of those typical slips of the tongue from people who tell you they do not have a discriminatory bone in their body, which may be true. What I have learned from the many racial complaints I have investigated is that our society has played some mean tricks on people and how they feel and treat people of color. In his eagerness to correct one problem of racial profiling he made another by insulting the reporter there to help him tell his story.

Since the issue has come up I want to focus a little attention on the business owners of these barber shops and the courage they displayed under the pressure of these public agencies and some members of a doubting public. These are brave citizens trying to live out the American dream of being an entrepreneur where racial discrimination confronts them at every turn. Yet they proceeded anyway investing their entire life savings and reputations in pursuit of that dream.

Barbers have been the most respected in our community, they have historically been up there with the teachers and preachers. They are in a business that is built on public trust that those who walk through the doors are honest hard-work- ing people seeking a professional service. Their customers are doctors, lawyers, ministers, church members, teachers and other community leaders. However, some people come there seeking to do other panhandling business as well. But more than likely, it’s an honest business.

My cousin John ran a barber shop in-between two juke joints run by my uncles in Trenton, North Carolina. Cousin John was a farmer and a Steward at St. Matthew AMEZ Church and my uncles did not attend church at the time. Boys in the community would stop by the barber shop on Saturdays to see if anyone wanted a shoe shine to get ready for church on Sunday. Someone else would stop by to solicit workers to help put in their crops and yes being that close to the juke joint occasionally some one would stop in to see if someone wanted a drink of illegal moonshine. Nothing was wrong with that unless the seller did not work for Sheriff Mallard, who owned the moonshine still. I say that to show my understanding of the kind of customers a barber has to endure while following their dream. The same kind of things happened to my cousin Little Strayhorn in Harlem, New York, where he had a barber shop.

Back to MoVal on April 2, 2008 the barbers were faced with a raid led by the police into their establishment where customers were asked to show identification and checked for outstanding warrants. Other compliance agencies tagged along according to Russ Heimerick of the Department of Consumer Affairs. On that day, the pressure was on the barbers to eithergive up on their dream or fight back. They decided to organize and fight. With the leadership of Lorenzo Griffith they sought the help of the ACLU for legal advice and the Black Voice News to tell their story.

Just like a good football quarterback under pressure from a big defensive line bearing down on him, he sticks with the game plan. This is what the barbers did, they organized and put together a plan of action. As some customers left, they stuck with the plan. As the city denied any racial profiling of them, they stuck with the plan. As family members felt the sting of humiliation, they stuck with the plan. As former chief of police Rick Hall said we did nothing wrong, the barbers stuck with the plan.

Well on November 2, 2010 the case was settled in the Black barber’s racial profiling raid with the barbers being vindicated and receiving a financial package of $99,000. Now the current chief John Anderson is eager to put this behind them and move on to mend relationships with the Black community, we agree that this is the right direction.

Let me offer you my suggestions. The next time you need a haircut walk into one of the shops and when they say whose next take your seat and while getting the haircut start a conversation with the barber. Barbers are like bartenders they love to talk especially when cutting hair. When done, offer to treat him to lunch at his favorite eating establishment. I am even suggesting you go and attend several of the Black churches in MoVal to further get a flavor of the way we live and communicate with each other. Also communicate openly and honestly with the Black employees on your staff. They might tell you things you need to hear because remember they get their hair cut at a barbershop owned by Blacks. In doing this you will see a community made up of doctors, lawyers, teachers, business owners, corporate employees, enlisted and military officers and yes, some who are out there to make a hustle. Do all of that while reading the latest copy of the Black Voice News.

Yes my hat is off to the barbers for organizing, developing a plan and sticking to that plan while showing courage under pressure.

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