By Anna Wenger
Photos by Sam James
The second annual Hardy Brown Birthday Celebration was held
at Riverside Convention Center last Thursday with
over 300 friends, community supporters and family members, entering the red
carpet. This year's Black-tie gala honored and celebrated the philanthropic
work of Riverside's
own renowned artist, Charles Bibbs.
Hardy and Cheryl Brown
Charles Bibbs was joined by his wife Elaine and his son
Charles, Jr. Charles Bibbs is an internationally recognized artist who founded
Art 2000, a nonprofit visual arts association that aims to provide young
artists with education to help them thrive.
Elaine and Charles Bibbs listen Kelly Jackson
Some of the stars that were received on the red carpet were
Actress Sheila Frazier of "Superfly," and Janet
DuBois, who played Wilona in Good Times. Other artists joining Charles
in the celebration were Synthia St. James and Larry Poncho Brown. Ms. Frazier
said, "The "Arts" need that type of attention and support." Art pieces from
Charles Bibbs, Larry "Poncho" Brown, Synthia St. James and others lined the
back wall. Landrus Clark was the auctioneer for the evening. There was also a
silent auction of art and gift items.
The unveiling of an original painting, a collaborative
effort of over 25 renowned artists, became one of the highlights of the
evening. Larry "Poncho" Brown gave a
moving testimonial of the positive influence Charles Bibbs had on his life.
There was also a surprise guest appearance by Charles' high school art teacher,
Mr. Ted Henry.
Artist Larry Poncho Brown travelled from Baltimore to honor Charles Bibbs
"We The People" Cultural Drum & Dance Troupe
led the procession as they danced in native costume to the beat of African
drums. The piano player for the pre-celebration was Hector Jimenez who set the
stage for an elegant evening. Then there was the thrill of an impromptu
performance by Phil Perry, accompanied by guitarist, Ray Fuller and the Ray
San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris
Elected officials showing their support included San
Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris, Fontana Councilwoman Acquanetta Warren,
Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter. Carter said, "The Bibbs' and the Brown's
have been catalysts for positive change in the community. They are integral
parts of our community." Among those representing the church community were
Reverend and Mrs. Munford of New Joy Baptist, Reverend and Mrs. Larry Campbell
of St. Paul, L.E. Campbell of Park Avenue Baptist
Church, and New
Hope Baptist Church from San
Bernardino was also present.
Pastors LE Campbell and Larry Campbell served on the program.
Charles Bibbs said, "It was truly an honor to receive the
awards and recognitions, especially in my own hometown. I have always admired
Cheryl and Hardy Brown for their support in the community and it really gave me
a great feeling to hear that I was selected to be the honoree this year's Hardy
Brown's Birthday Celebration. This was a classy event and I was immensely
impressed to see the many people who came out to support it."
Paula E. George, an associate of Charles Bibbs said, "The
celebration for Charles was truly an exciting event! My heart was filled with joy and pride as I
watched the multitude of people fill the room to honor a man I have worked with
for over 14 years. This celebration was right on time for someone who truly
deserved the recognition. Wanda Scruggs said "December 7, 2006" will remain a
day to be remembered by all who attended the dazzling gala event."
Emcees Kathy Ervin and Rickerby Hinds
Hardy Brown, namesake of the event and co-publisher of The
Black Voice News is known for dedication to his family, his community, The
Black Voice Foundation and his interest in promoting art and culture in the Inland Empire. By his side, actively participating in the
event were his wife Cheryl; his daughters Regina Brown-Wilson, Paulette
Brown-Hinds, and Lynn Lee; his son-in-laws, Rickerby Hinds and Kurt Wilson; and
grandchildren Kennedy, Justin, and Alex.
Press Enterprise Publisher Ron Redfern and his wife wish Brown a Happy Birthday
Brown said "This celebration is an example to people of how
to live after you get bad news and hopefully celebrating people like Charles
will be an inspiration to others to follow their dream and passion inspite of
adversity that they sometimes face."
Although both Brown and Bibbs battled with life-threatening
illnesses, they both continue to inspire others and give back to their
community. According to Katherine Doss, a member of the steering committee
organizing the event, "The BVN, and Event Committee did an excellent job
creating such a memorable evening." Proceeds from the event go to the Muscular
Dystrophy Association for ALS research, Art 2000, and the Black Voice
Foundation Internship Program.