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Charles 'Charlie' Seymour A 'Yes You Can' Man

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On April, 2, 2009 I wrote an editorial wishing my friend Charles “Charlie” Seymour Happy Birthday when he turned ninety years young. Well this time I am writing to summarize my true appreciation for having known him and to express my condolences to his family. I first met Mr. Seymour when I turned on the lights for his newspaper “The Tribune” located on Mount Vernon in San Bernardino. I can say it was Seymour that got me interested in the newspaper business because he would let me stop by during the day as I performed my duties with Edison. The first time my name ever appeared in a newspaper was in the Tribune because of Seymour.

It was also my introduction to local politics because he talked me into holding a political coffee party for 6th Ward City Council candidate Norris Gregory in our home on California Street. As a matter of fact, Gregory was elected and that is how the stop sign was put in front of Rio Vista School on California Street. This is what we wanted from Gregory if he was elected, so that could be called a Seymour stop sign.

Later our path’s crossed on a regular basis when we formed the “Black Father’s Group” and held the meeting at Delman Heights Foursquare Gospel Church. Seymour was one of those founding fathers and was very outspoken if you know Seymour. The very articulate Rev. William Dillard of Delman Heights Foursquare and my pastor at the time, was appointed the first spokesperson of the group and later Robert “Bob” Parker became the president.

Seymour understood the business community along with other father’s like Bob Parker, Rev. Art Forbes, Benton P.K. Blakey, Alonza Thompson, while others like Wesley Jefferson, Richard and Bobby Cole had knowledge in the civil rights movement and all of them pushed the group to confront the school board, United Way and banks for doing more to employ Blacks. Seymour unlike the others also knew how to get publicity on issues, plus his income was not tied to the government.

Seymour dropped out of the spotlight for a while as he started and sold several businesses but our relationship grew because his daughter Charlotte became my wife Cheryl’s, best friend. He got me involved with his Adopt- A-Bike and Adopt-A-Computer programs where he drafted me as Board President. I will never forget at one meeting we had a professor from Cal State who held a PhD in non profit businesses telling us how to raise money with proper documentation. The professor made the comment that went something like: “this is how you should approach someone for support”. Seymour spoke up I don’t need you to tell me how to get money, I was getting money before you were born. I have money in large amounts waiting for me to come and pick up now from the county. Just show us how to document to satisfy any funding sponsors. I must tell you I wrote what Seymour said, in language that can be repeated in public, if you know Seymour, he was more colorful with his words.

Seymour was a very courageous man with a gentle and caring heart. He would come by the house or office and say “Hardy, you do not have what they say you have. You have to believe that man. These doctors don’t know what they are talking about.” In our faith, Christian Science, Seymour would say to me, “if I tell that mountain to move it will move.”

Seymour also introduced me to his good friend, Chauncey Spencer, who lived on “H” Street and served on the Police Commission. Now you might say who is Chauncey Spencer? Mr. Spencer is the Black man that flew a single engine airplane from Ohio to Washington DC to show America that Blacks deserved to fly in the military and was instrumental for the inclusion into the Army Air Corp and was an original Tuskegee Airman. These are the kinds of people Seymour hung around with all the time.

Even though his kids and grandkids were out of school, he saw the need and found the time to start a program at Curtis Middle School to encourage students to go to college. He called the program College Capable Cats and used as a motto “Yes you can”. He never gave up on people especially young people and neither should we.

When his ability to drive was taken away he would call me on the phone with words of encouragement. I think the reason Seymour died was to go home and be close to mama, his wife Madeline, who left us a few months ago.

He will be missed but his legacy of “Yes you can” will live on.

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