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DeVonne Armstrong: A Giant Tree Has Fallen

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Does a tree make a sound when it falls in the forest if there is no one around?

This question is supposed to make you think because there is no way for us to really know what sound can be heard if we are not there. However our sense of logic tells us that it did make a noise.

Last Friday, a giant tree fell quietly in the Riverside and San Bernardino communities and even though we did not hear him take his last breath, there will be a void in the space he once occupied. Just like the tree you did not hear, as you travel through the forest the remnants left behind give you an idea of the size of the tree.

When visiting the mighty sequoias in Yosemite National Forest we saw the giant redwoods that fell hundreds of years ago still laying around testifying to the greatness of how they once stood. The same is true of a man named DeVonne Armstrong. He was a giant of a man who always was about the business of building. Building human bonds with people of all races. Building business opportunities for others through his real estate company.

Building people through organizations such as the NAACP, Urban League, Boy Scouts and too many others to name. Building communities through removing artificial barriers of skin color and discrimination in housing, and employment. Building better people through the music he played at social functions.

Yes, DeVonne was not just any tree in the forest he was a redwood here in our community and even though he is no longer with us, the evidence of what he accomplished while standing will live on.

People will tell their own stories of the role he played in dismantling some of the racial taboos of a by-gone era. DeVonne Armstrong was the first Black to be accepted on the Riverside Board of Realtors. That has paved the way for Michael Teer to serve today and he has taken it to another level by serving at the state and national levels as well. All of that became a reality because the Redwood stood there protecting the area until others could grow.

DeVonne was also the first Black to serve as Chairman of the Riverside Planning Commission. These were giant steps by DeVonne in our movement forward to dismantle racial discrimination and prejudices within the community.

When I left Southern California Edison and went to Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, DeVonne would come by my office and share his desire to see us work together in solving social issues.

He never saw a problem that could not be solved. He never lost faith in the Anglo community by the actions of a few who wanted to stand in the doorway of our opportunity. He was quick to point out that the struggle was not easy but we must not give up in our desire for equality.

No, I did not hear the tree fall or DeVonne take his last breath, but I will miss the space he once stood in and know that it will be a long time before another will grow in his place.

Happy Mother’s Day

To all the mothers who read The Black Voice News have a Happy Mother’s Day. Words cannot express the many thanks we owe you from changing diapers, to midnight feedings, to caring for us when we were sick, to dressing us, to defending us when others wanted to wring our necks. Yes, thanks to you the mothers in our lives. Happy Mother’s Day.

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