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Riverside Black History Parade Attended by Thousands - AHuge Success

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The 24th Annual Riverside Black History Parade, held last week, was attended by thousands as the rain earlier in the week gave way to a sunny weekend.

Close to 140 entries wound their way from Riverside Community College to downtown in front of the historic courthouse.

Entrant after entrant saluted the judges in the categories of equestrian, drill teams, cars, historic floats, and school bands. Local elected officials were expected to attend but everyone was surprised at the high energy of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

She represents the 47th District of Orange County and literally ran through the parade high fiving as many people as she could. She and her sister are the first congressional sister team in our nation’s history.

Cheryl Brown, Co-Publisher of The Black Voice News, returned for her fifth year of commentating joined by co-hosts Craig Goodwin, and Eugenia Turner, native Californians and members of historic families in Riverside. Goodwin is a 4th generation Riversider. Eugenia is a second generation Californian.

The (Academic) Grand Marshal was Dr. Ed Blakely, a hometown hero who has risen and continues to rise in the field of Urban Planning. He is the Dean of the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at New York University.

He was the advisor to the mayor of Oakland and advisor to the Los Angeles Public School District. He is the author of four books and will have a school at his alma mater University of California, Riverside named in his honor.

The Athletic Grand Marshal, Johnnie Baker, Sr. is father of the great Dusty Baker. Mr. Baker moved to California in 1945 after serving in the Navy. Having five children, he volunteered for the Little League, Pony League and semi-pro league as part of his community service.

Other Division Marshals included: B&H Performance Boats, the first and only Black-owned boat manufacturing company in the world. Dr. Ruth Jackson, the new Librarian at UC Riverside and the first Black person to hold this position.

Charles Leathers, known as a Special Education Teacher and Track Coach at North High School. Mike Bartee, an award winning coach at North High School. William (Bill) Anderson, presently works part time in the STOP program for Riverside Unified’s Adult Education. He was a former counselor at North High School.

Jim Clover is the man behind the Sports Wall of Fame that is being built in downtown Riverside. Sam Knight, father of famous football star of the same name and Jurupa School Board Member. And Vickie Roberts, keeping her father George Williams’ memory alive.

Many local churches participated, but Second Baptist was far and away the most visible. With 13 separate entries, those who weren’t in the parade were in the stands cheering them on. Their pastor T. Elsworth Gantt was bringing up the rear riding his bike with his professional bike team.

Juan Polo Chicken restaurant bowled everyone again this year as they rivaled Second Baptist with numbers, and no one could beat the noise they made or the stuffed animals they gave away to the crowd.

The Inglewood High School Band came and folks were happy but it was the Martin Luther King, Jr High School Band in Riverside, 100 strong, that had folks cheering off the hook.
One of the most unusual groups was from Lowe’s.

They were complete with their drill team, (each carried a battery operated drill).
Of course there were the collector cars complete with hydraulics to go up and down and to ride on two wheels at the delight of a fenced - in seating gallery.

There were kings and queens, the fraternal organizations and clubs of all kinds and at the end of the nearly four hour parade there was the Expo. It was an all day affair.
“If you liked this year, you are going to love the silver anniversary next year,” said strategist Terry Boykins.

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