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African American Firsts in the Inland Empire

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With the rich history of the Inland Empire, many Blacks formerly enslaved or freed, migrated to the area of San Bernardino and Riverside County. The history of Blacks in the Inland Empire began when the Mormons arrived in San Bernardino circa 1851. But even today, there are still first being made between both counties, which The Black Voice News will highlight in this week’s edition.

Riverside County

First Non-Native Resident James Hamilton, born in 1822 was the first resident who wasn‘t a native Indian to live in the Anza area. The year he arrived was 1873 just twelve years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

According to the “San Jacintos” by John F.W. Robinson and Bruce Fisher, Hamilton was sometimes called “Uncle Jim” or “Nigger Jim” eve the downgrade rode to Anza was known as “Nigger Jim” Grade. After traveling west from Ohio with an 1847 Mormon wagon train, he lived with Sioux Indians and in the early 1850s he arrived in San Bernardino.

He tried to homestead a claim on Mexican land and because the claim was not valid, he moved on to Vail Lake, an area close to Temecula. There he and his children were again unsuccessful in staking a claim. His third try was a charm. He successfully obtained 160 areas located in the area of present day Anza. Hamilton and his sons, Joe, Henry and Frank suffered discrimination living in the area. In 1897, two years before his own death, his son Frank, who was a lawman, was murdered.

The family remained in the area on several sections of the land homesteaded by Hamilton. Today Hamilton’s presence is still felt by the naming of Hamilton Creek and Hamilton School.

Riverside County’s 1st Black Presiding Judge. The Riverside County Superior Court's judges selected Judge Richard T. Fields to serve as the presiding judge over the court system during the next two years.

Fields took the reins from former presiding judge, Sharon Waters and supervised the operations of all the courts divisions all across the county.

Through this process, Fields achieved another major milestone, becoming the first African-American judge ever to be selected as the presiding judge over Riverside County's 69 judges and commissioners. In 2000, Fields became the first African-American judge to serve in the county after he was appointed by then Governor Gray Davis. Before that, he had sat on the bench as a commissioner in the same county for nearly 10 years. Fields is a graduate of Western State University College of Law and had also worked as an attorney before becoming a commissioner.

Riverside County's 1st Black Chief Deputy. In 2009, Boris Robinson was promoted to Chief Deputy of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department making him the first African American to hold the position.

San Bernardino’s First Black Chief Deputy, Ron Cochran, captain of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Highland station, was promoted to deputy chief. Cochran is the first African-American to hold the rank in the department’s 156-year history. Cochran says a racial profiling incident 25 years ago led him to join the department in 1984. “I wanted to make a difference from the inside. I think we’ve made progress in that area but there are still gaps. I feel Sheriff Ron Hoops is committed to ensuring an equitable department from the inside out,” he said.

1st Black City Employee. Lucille Stratton Taylorwas hired by the City of Riverside in 1942 as a receptionist/bookkeeper in the Sanitation Department.

First Black cosmetology student at RCC. Willie Bartee studied cosmetology at RCC. In June 15, 1946 he received his California state cosmetology license.

First Go-Kart business in Riverside, Adams Motorsports Park began when the Adams family purchased 14 acres in the Riverside area later known as “Belltown,” and on Christmas of December 1959, the Adams brothers and sisters received their first go kart.

On January 28th, 50 years ago, the brothers and sisters of the Adams family began to lay the foundation for what would grow to become the main destination for fans of karting from all over the state. The Adams family would come together every Sunday to race each other, but it didn’t take long until they opened their playground to the public.

First Black College Graduate and teacher in a public school in Riverside. Alice Rowan Johnson, graduated from Los Angeles Normal College in 1888.

She became prominent and was a distinguished teacher. When she married Frank Johnson, on December 25, 1892, a blacksmith and carriage repairman, the wedding was carried in every newspaper in the area.

First Black to graduate from Riverside High School Winnie Davison.

First African American Museum in the city of Perris Dora Nelson African American Museum

First Black to graduate from 14th Street grade school Bert Williams

First Black Policeman in Riverside. Robert Stokes ran for Constable and lost badly with only one vote. In 1879 the Press Enterprise printed that he would win because he was a good man and said he would undoubtedly be elected.

First Black child to come to Riverside. In 1873 Nicey, age between 5 and 8 years old, who was brought by Mrs. Eliza Tibbetts, who introduced the navel orange to Riverside. It is surmised that Nicey was her grandchild, from a son who fought in the Civil War. No one ever knew and Nicey was not given a last name. No one ever knew what happened to her.

First Black Attorney Frank Johnson was the only in the area.

First street named for a Black in Riverside Langston Place, it runs between 12th and 14th Streets east of Victoria named for John Mercer Langston, the Dean of Howard University’s Law School. He and his wife Alice were large property owners in Riverside.

San Bernardino County

The names of first 26 Blacks to enter San Bernardino in 1850. They entered with Mormon slave masters.

The slaves that came into the area with the Mormons were not informed of their freedom and many times if they were they stayed on because it was a way of life. Biddy Mason was different she didn’t know she was free because California was a free state. She found out from Charles Rowan, a local successful barber, and they alerted the authorities. Rowan also ran for San Bernardino County Assessor and lost. The reason for so much information on her is because of the court battle that ensued. Biddy and Hanah were sisters and property of Robert (William) Smith. He hid out in the Santa Monica mountains to get them ready to go to Texas, a slave state. They were stopped and Biddy was jailed for protective custody:

1. Harriet
2. Hark Lay
3. Charly
4. Jane
5. Nelson
6. Lawrence Smith
7. Ann
8. Harriett
9. Anna
10. Ellen
11. Biddy
12. Hannah Smith
13. Tennessee
14. Fluleman
15. George
16. Nancy
17. Rose
18. Henderson
19. Mary
20. Nelson
21. Oscar Crosby
22. Grief Crosby
23. Toby Thomas
24. Vilote
25. Liz Flake Rowan
26. Green

First Black Church. The Black church was starting to develop in the area around the late 1800’s. In Redlands Second Baptist Church was first (1891). St. Paul AME in San Bernardino was founded in 1904 by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Inghram and 8 others, Riverside’s first Black church was Allen Chapel AME founded in the home of Mrs. Dobbs in 1892 (3). One source says it was founded in 1879 and that it was the first church (Black or White) in Riverside. Both are still active.

Before the Black church Blacks attended White churches in the area some were even involved in the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

First Black Newspaper, (The Colored Citizen Newspaper) was the first to speak to the Negro population in Redlands, San Bernardino and Riverside. It was published in 1905 and 1906. The paper is a collection of local and national items of interest to help and inform the citizens. It was published for two years by R.H. Harbert in Redlands, CA and has a collection of who’s who and who even visited the area. For example, Mrs. Allensworth’s visit to the area was noted in the paper. Weddings, deaths, and marriages as well as events of the day were carried in the monthly paper. First Black to run for School Bo ard in Redlands , Isreal Beal. First Black doctor, Dr. Howard Inghram was the first Black doctor to practice medicine in the area. He taught himself Spanish so he could treat all members of the community.

First Superintendent of Schools, Dorothy Inghram who is now 104 years old was the State of California’s first Superintendent of Schools, in the Mill School District in San Bernardino.

San Bernardino’s First Black Security Guard Grief Embers.

(Also known as Grief Crosby). His last name was given to him by both of his slave owners. It is believed he was first owned by Embers and later owned by William Crosby, who brought him to San Bernardino. He was the sentry at the fort in the middle of San Bernardino and had a very long horn that warned people about impending danger as well as he blew it for celebrations. He was also the first Black property owner in San Bernardino. He owned 21 acres of land between G and F Streets near the Central City Mall in downtown San Bernardino. He also was the first Black to run for public office. He ran for the San Bernardino County Coroner he became in second in a field of three.

First Black Graduate of San Bernardino High School, Grace Harrison.

Partial list keep reading the pages of The Black Voice News for continued coverage on first.

Goeske Center Holds Annual Black History Luncheon

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The Janet Goeske Center will hold it's 11th annual Black History Luncheon on Friday, February 26th, 2010 from 11:00 am to 1 p.m. The center is located at 5257 Sierra Street, Riverside, Ca. For directions or information call 951-351-8800.

The purpose of the luncheon is to celebrate the rich heritage of the African American culture.

This year's theme is "African-American Women In History". Accomplished women from the Riverside community will acknowledge the powerful legacy of their female ancestors and leaders. They will share how the roles of historical Black women laid a foundation for them to be models of success today as they lay the foundation to empower women of tomorrow. The speakers include: Waudieur E. Rucker- Hughes, Educator and President of the Riverside NAACP; Ennette Morton, Museum Director, Riverside Metropolitan Museum; Dr. Carolyn Bennett Murray, Professor UCR; Dr. Germaine Strother MD, Physician and Professor USC; Christina Reid-Brown, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Riverside Community Hospital; Rev. Jerry Hobby, Assist Pastor Riverside Community Center for Spiritual Living.

The cost of the luncheon is $6.00 for nonmembers and $5.00 for members. The menu of "Southern Cooking" has been a highlight of the event over the

Isom Advanced Marketing Introduces New Site for Localized Job Search

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In order to stimulate and accelerate the Inland Empire's return to a “working” economy Isom Advanced Marketing & Communications, LLC partnered with Simply Hired, the worlds largest job search engine, today to announce a new localized destination website for the Inland Empire, The I. E, Job hunter (www.IEJobHunter.com). With thousands of jobs available locally, Isom Advanced's expansion into the I. E. will help job seekers in the third largest economy to find work that they love. The new partnership with Isom Advanced Marketing broadens Simply Hired’s presence in the I. E. and joins localized websites in 16 countries across five continents and in nine languages.

Without requiring membership, the new site will provide local job seekers a simple online job search experience.

The I. E. Job Hunter immediately shows returning users which new listings have been added since their last visit and offers an advanced search option to return job listings that match specific criteria.

More than five million jobs are available worldwide from the leading job boards, content websites, newspapers and company career pages. The I. E. Job Hunter also provides a variety of other economy stimulating tools. Through its international partnership with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter the I. E. Job Hunter will also allow job seekers to discover the connections they have within companies, providing them the inside track on the hiring process.

“As we work to provide localized job search opportunities for every major country in world, Simply Hired is excited to further expand our job search services in the Inland Empire with our new partnership with Isom Advanced Marketing, and the launch of their site in the Inland Empire,” said Sachin Shah, Director of International, Simply Hired.

“ Simply Hired is confident that www.IEJobHunter.com comes at a good time. Our goal is to provide our worldwide users with free, valuable tools and resources that benefit job seekers and employers, alike.”

Aric Isom, a community activist, and local businessman, started the website with the idea of putting local talent in local job. “With so many people out of work in the I. E. and the clogged freeways we needed a way to alleviate both problems.”, says Isom, “We have the talent and will to work here. We don't need to go all the way to Orange County or Los Angeles for our workers.” Isom wanted to emphasize the importance of clearing the freeways and the conservation of fuel.

For recruiters and direct employers, the I. E. Job Hunter offers the ability to add their open jobs into these international sites through RSS Job Feeds. To express interest in including your open jobs visit the site at www.IEJobHunter.com and click the “Add A Job” link at the top of the page. For information on bulk discount rates email info@IEJobHunter.com.

Black Heritage Day Celebration in Banning

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The front doors of the Historic Banning Woman's Club will open at noon on February 27, for a FREE event that will celebrate cultural diversity, while honoring a part of history rich in art, music, dance and so much more during the Black Heritage Day Celebration.

Highlights for the event include more youth participation this year, opening with the Pledge of Allegiance by the Boys and Girls Club of the San Gorgonio Pass and the ever youthful Yve Evans who will sing the National Anthem. This is the second year that the Banning Cultural Alliance will host the free event that will include performances by singers Yve Evans, Zelyne Ruldoph, and Jerome Robinson of Second Generation Platters fame.

As a part of the event Mayor Bob Botts will present Marion Johnson, Estelle Lewis and a surprise honoree with Mayoral Proclamations. Assemblyman Paul Cook's office has confirmed that they will be participating in the events with a special presentation of their own. Presentation speakers include Mayor Bob Botts, Art Welch, from Cook's office, Councilwoman Debbie Franklin and School Board President Deborah Dukes, who will also MC the event.

"I am very excited about the entire event and the youth participation this year," said Cindy Watson the event's coordinator.

"We have tap and jazz performances by Dance Spectrum of Beaumont," she said. Thirty local youth from Dance Spectrum are schedule to perform in a variety of routines that honor this part of Black culture.

The Alliance's own dance troop will also be part of a trilogy tribute performance to Michael Jackson (MJ).

According to Watson, who is the youth program director for the Alliance, there are three separate dance routines that combine for this portion of the program.

Performances are by the dance crew Beyond the Others, a solo performance by Judah Ruiz, as MJ and the Hyper Active Dance Troop. Ruiz is the star performer and is in all three dance routines, according to Watson. Ruiz was one of the top award winners, for his MJ performances in last summer's Pass Has Talent competition.

"These kids ages 6 to 16 have been working hard on their routines," said Watson. "They began practicing for the event in mid January with their new dance instructor Moses Ruiz and have been meeting Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings to prepare especially for this event," she added.

Additional performances include the Pass Area Gospel Choir and readings: by Shameca Tankerson and Beverly Rashidd.

After presentations and general performances the evening will wind down to performances by Jerome Robinson and Zelyne Ruldoph and a "Soul Full" Bar Be Que chicken dinner and dance.

"The dinner is on a first come basis," said Watson, who said that there is a suggested donation of $5 to $10 per plate.

"We need donations and support to allow us to continue such great events and programs here locally," said Watson. This free event will be at the Banning Woman's Club, 175 W. Hays, one block North of Ramsey at Second Street and is brought to you by the Banning Cultural Alliance.

For more information call (951) 922-0500 or (909) 645-6545.

Movie Producer Tommy Ross Appointed To California Film Commission

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Businessman Tommy Ross, C.E.O. of Pinnacle Strategic Group, has been appointed to the board of the California Film Commission by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. Says Bass:

"Tommy Ross has been a diligent and dedicated individual throughout his career in both the public and private sectors, always acting as the consummate professional. With his appointment to the California Film Commission, the administration and the people of California can be confident that his exemplary work will continue to pay dividends for our state in an industry that is vital to our future."

The California Film Commission works to enhance the economic climate in California by keeping film industry jobs and projects in the state. The Commission has an advisory board of members appointed by the Governor, Senate Pro Tem and Speaker of the Assembly.

Ross retired in 2009 from Southern California Edison where he was appointed by the Board of Directors as corporate Vice President, Public Affairs and oversaw the Sacramento Public Affairs office which included a team of lobbyists, analysts, administrative staff and consultants. He has more than 30 years of legislative, political, public affairs and management experience and has developed a reputation as a master political and corporate communications strategist.

Ross recently formed and is President/CEO of Pinnacle Strategic Group, Inc (www. pinnacl est rategy. net ) which provides political and corporate strategic communication guidance to clients in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, DC.

He is also founder and Chairman of the Board/President of the Research and Policy Institute of California, a Sacramento-based public policy non-profit that provides leadership training, research, and assists public policy makers in formulating proposals specific to the African-American community (www.calresearch.org).

Ross also ventured into the world of entertainment in 2005 when he formed and served as managing partner for Hormones, LLC. As an Executive Producer, he produced his first film, “American Hormones”, which was subsequently distributed to DVD by Vanguard Entertainment. (American Hormones is available on Amazon.com and Netflix). In 2008 he became managing partner of Gospel Jam, LLC and subsequently served as Executive Producer of their recently completed production of the first African-American faith based musical film “Church” (www. churchthefilm. com).

Gospel Jam, LLC is currently seeking to secure a distribution deal for this historic production.

In 2010, Ross was elected to the Board of Directors of Premier Power Renewable Energy, an El Dorado Hills, California based solar panel installation company with business interests in the United States, Spain and Italy.

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