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Gram’s Mission BBQ Palace is the Hot Spot for Good Food

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By Tashika LeSure

Enticing aromas and a warm feeling reminiscent of grandmother's kitchen is what you feel as soon as you enter Gram's Mission Bar-B-Q Palace which features authentic Cajun and Creole dishes. The name Gram's refers to the nickname given to Robert Bratton's grandmother by the grandchildren. Evelyn and Robert Bratton are the proud owners of the family-owned restaurant located on 3527 Main Street in Downtown Riverside. It's key location puts them within walking distance of the Marriott and Mission Inn Hotels, making Gram's a tourist hot spot!

Bobby Bratton
The Brattons have been serving the Inland Empire with delectable dishes such as Seafood Shrimp Creole and Jambalaya since 1987. According to Robert, "it all started with a barbeque pit and a good poker face." For the past six years, this Creole inspired restaurant has been coined to have the best Bar-B-Que in the Inland Empire according to The Press Enterprise. "Evelyn is responsible for most of the cooking," stated Robert. She's proved herself to be a cook to be reckoned with by providing a variety of meals ranging from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, some of which are cooked with their very own homemade barbecue sauce and fish seasoning. Said Robert, "My favorite dishes are the ribs, gumbo, the catfish, and the Cajun friend chicken." To satisfy your sweet tooth, Gram's also displays a variety of fresh pies, cakes, and ice cream. It's no wonder why the Brattons have been able to maintain such a successful business with a diverse customer base for the past twenty years.

Gram’s BBQ located in Downtown Riverside
Gram's also facilitates catering events from groups as small as 50 to groups as large as 2500 people. With their fully equipped mobile catering pits, they cater for everyone ranging from city employees, to local schools including the University of California, Riverside, and charity events held across the IE. "We do quite a bit of catering business and we get calls almost every other day to do different events," said Robert. Their next big catering event is coming up May 5th for the Flag Airport Company.

Gram's is more than just a simple barbecue restaurant. They are very versatile in not only their menu selection but also in the type of service they provide. If you are in a rush, you also have the option of calling in and picking up an order. Great service, good food, and positive energy is Gram's recipe for success. Gram's is open 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sundays. For additional information about Gram's Mission Bar-B-Q Palace you can visit their website at www.gramsbbq.org.

Down to the Last Curl

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Bartee's Beauty Salon, located at 2665 Eleventh Street, in Riverside, has operated from that same location since Willie Bartee became owner in October 1946, and is believed to be the oldest Black-owned business in the Inland Empire that is still in existence.

On Wednesday, April 11, 2007, Willie Bartee, owner and operator of Bartee's Beauty Salon, celebrated his 89th birthday and has decided it is time to retire. On Monday, April 30, 2007 Bartee's Beauty Salon will close its doors after 60 years.

Growing up in Farmville, Virginia, Bartee had no inkling that cosmetology would be his lifelong vocation. His older sister, Bernetta West introduced him to the trade. She owned both a beauty school and a beauty shop in New York City. She convinced Bartee to enroll in Bernetta's Beauty Academy in October 1936. The Academy was founded in April 1936. Bartee remembers being only 18. There were so many nice looking girls and he was the only guy. He saw the school as a way to get to know the young women.

Willie F. Bartee and Susan Aubert-Griggs
Despite his initial misgivings about the profession, he stuck with the program and in July 1937, Bartee graduated the only male in the class from that Academy and went to work in the shop Bernetta owned. He eventually became manager of that shop and in 1940, when Bernetta closed the Academy and left New York, Bartee took over the business. He ran that shop until February 1942, at which time he moved to Detroit, Michigan.

In September 1943, Bartee was drafted into the Army, where he served in an outfit that was attached to March Air Force Base, in Riverside where he was stationed. After the war ended, but while still in the military, Bartee worked at a small Riverside beauty shop called the Blue Horizon owned by Anne Perry. At that time he was still not interested in working as a hairdresser again, but Anne offered him a job and he ended up working nights there.

In March 1946 Bartee enrolled in the brand new cosmetology program at Riverside City College. He was both the first Black student and the first male student in the cosmetology department. On June 15, 1946 Bartee received his California State Cosmetology license.

Bartee then went to work at the Laura Jackson Beauty Salon in Riverside. This salon had opened in the early 1930's and was owned and operated by Laura Jackson. Bartee worked with Laura in the two person shop located at 2665 Eleventh Street. In October 1946 Bartee purchased the business.  It then became Bartee's Beauty Salon. He has owned and operated this business at that same location since.

Willie Bartee has been recognized and awarded by the Riverside Black Chamber of Commerce, NAACP and the Riverside African American Historical Society. He is a past recipient of the Pacesetters Award as an Unsung Hero and has served as Grand Marshall for the Riverside Black History Parade. Bartee has received proclamations from the Mayor of Riverside. The Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce recognized his "People Who Make A Difference" Award from the Press Enterprise.

Bartee extends heartfelt thanks to his many friends and customers for their support throughout the years. It has been a pleasure and prvilege to provide professional haircare in the City of Riverside for over 60 years.

Booker T. Washington’s Great Granddaughter Inspires

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By Anna Wenger

Gloria "Bonnie" Washington, great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington inspired the audience as she shared her great grandfather's vision and how Tuskegee Institute came to be at the 2007 annual Booker T. Washington brunch held at the Historic Mission Inn last Friday.

"He saw our people free. He saw us as owners and businessmen with strong ethics and moral values. Washington understood that much work still needed to be done for us to be free. He began by teaching us freedom and that it has to have psychological components as well as spiritual components. Freedom is a God given right but it also carries a personal responsibility," she told the audience.

Her great grandfather put flesh into his vision. He knew that Tuskegee was going to be that first step and a giant leap forward. Tuskegee was built at the lowest federalization since the Civil War. Reconstruction was rapidly being dismantled. Jim Crow was back in effect. Plessy vs. Ferguson was being called the law of the land violent lynching was occurring throughout the south.

Despite the hostile environment, a group of Black people were determined on building a school in the south to educate the poorest and illiterate amongst them. She said, "The students and the faculty were carrying the vision of my great grandfather. They gave their time, talents, and gifts and to Booker T. Washington which gave birth to a normal and industrial institute. Tuskegee arose like a beacon of light."

Tuskegee Institute was the seed of educational excellence to Blacks in the South. It was also the seed for Black power, Black authority, Black influence, Black business, and Black economic development. Booker T. Washington set the cornerstone for excellence in education and excellence in life. Bonnie concluded her speech by reminding us that "although we have come a long way, we still have a lot of work to do to fully realize her great grandfather's vision." To get more information regarding Timeless Treasures" a book published by Gloria Jackson and Sarah O'Neal Rush go to Booker-t-washington.com.

The event was sponsored by the Black Voice News and Foundation, The Press Enterprise, The Mission Inn, and the African American Historic Society. Awards were presented on behalf of Gloria Negrete McLeod, Congressman Ken Calvert and the City of Riverside.

Other supporters of the event were Councilwoman Acquanetta Warren, Councilmember Dom Betro, Andy Melendrez, Ron Redfern of the Press Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge, Bishop Kenneth and Shervonne Wells, of the Kurt Karr singers and Councilman Rikke Van Johnson.

Alicia Lee, Vice President of the African American Historical Society commented that the event was exciting and thrilling, to think, ninety-three years ago Booker T. Washington himself spoke in the IE." Yvette Pierre said that she was happy that the City of Riverside came out and showed their support for this event.

Tables were sponsored for SBVC students and Malik Boykin said that seeing Booker T. Washington's image in Gloria was powerful. "Booker T. Washington wanted us to progress as African Americans," he said while waiting to speak to Ms. Jackso.

Click here to view pictures of this event.

Ebony Fashion Fair brings Fashion and Funds to Inland Empire

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By Michelle Fernandes

Last Thursday, the Moreno Valley Black Chamber of Commerce and President Linda Wright hosted the 49th Annual EBONY Fashion Fair show at the Moreno Valley Conference Center. The next day, the SociaLites in San Bernardino hosted their annual show.  Aside from providing an entertaining and fashionable evening, the sold-out ticket purchases contributed to three five hundred dollar scholarships.

ImageA celebrated charity performance for various organizations and scholarship foundations, EBONY Fashion Fair has raised more than $52 million for various scholarship organizations, granting hundreds of young adults the opportunity to pursue a higher education. The MVBCC presented scholarships to Anjelice Foremean of Valley View High School, Chelsea Fuller of Moreno Valley High School, and Tyra Woods of Moreno Valley High School.

This year's theme was "Stylishly Hot" and appropriately narrated by the beautiful and accomplished author and speaker Jada Collins. The show opened with Collins strutting down the runway in a black Angelo Marani Couture gown detailed with red hot flames.

ImageThe models then took their turns entertaining the audience in equally sizzling outfits and gowns by world-renowned designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Henry Jackson, Zang Toi, Missoni, Valentino, Givenchy, and many more American, French, and Italian designers. From embellished denim, stylish trench coats and "blinging" swimsuits to elegant evening gowns, the Fashion Fair stage was engulfed in brilliant vibrant colors of red, pink, yellow, purple, and blue.

Among the different segments of the show, a scene titled "Global Sizzle" featured modern designs inspired by traditional Asian, Indian, and Russian dress. A large portion of this segment was dedicated to African-inspired gowns and daywear.

ImageAmong the attendees were local celebrities Davetta Sherwood of "My Wife and Kids" and China Shavers of "Boston Public." The official sponsors of this year's Fashion Fair were EBONY Magazine, American Airlines, Ford, SoftSheen-Carson, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, and JET Magazine.

Jurupa Unified Student Wins Spelling Bee

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Brandon Whitehead, a fifth-grader at Camino Real Elementary School in Pedley, won the 30th Annual Riverside County Spelling Bee on March 28 by correctly spelling the word "preparate" (meaning prepared or ready) in the 18th round.

The competition with 25 students lasted three hours in the Hole Memorial Auditorium at La Sierra University in Riverside.

Brandon Whitehead
Whitehead, from the Jurupa Unified School District, finished second in last year's Spelling Bee. He will represent Riverside County at the California State Elementary Spelling Bee May 19 at Sonoma State University, and at the 80th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 30-31 in Washington D.C., facing 250 top spellers from the country.

Second-place finisher Kendra Burns, a fifth-grader at Tuscany Hills Elementary School in Lake Elsinore, will join Whitehead at the state championships. She misspelled "tamarisk," which is a small tree or shrub, in the 17th round.

Whitehead correctly spelled "fuliginous" and "goateed" before "preparate" to win.

Third place went to Austin Pineda from the Romoland School District and fourth place went to Anika Alam from Moreno Valley Unified School District.

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BVN National News Wire