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Black History

Annual Black Caucus MLK Jr. Breakfast Uplifts King’s Legacy; Need to Generate Wealth

On Jan. 11, the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a breakfast celebration held at the Town and Country Event Center in Sacramento. The annual event was attended by about 200 people, including members of the Legislature, community leaders, Capitol staffers, among other attendees.

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Kwame Anku, right, the founding managing partner and chief investment officer of Black Star Fund, participates in a fireside chat with California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) chair Asm. Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City), left, at the CLBC's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast in Sacramento on Jan. 11, 2024. CBM Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Kwame Anku, right, the founding managing partner and chief investment officer of Black Star Fund, participates in a fireside chat with California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) chair Asm. Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City), left, at the CLBC's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast in Sacramento on Jan. 11, 2024. CBM Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

On Jan. 11, the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a breakfast celebration held at the Town and Country Event Center in Sacramento.

The annual event was attended by about 200 people, including members of the Legislature, community leaders, Capitol staffers, among other attendees.

“It was an honor to host this year’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast. The California Legislative Black Caucus put on another lively event with great discussion on ways we can honor Dr. King’s legacy and uplift all Californians,” CLBC Chair, Assemblymember Lori A. Wilson (D-Suisun City), posted Jan. 11 on the social media platform X.

At the breakfast, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), a member of the CLBC, served as the master of ceremonies.

CLBC members Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) provided the invocation and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) led the Pledge of Allegiance. Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood), Vice Chair of the CLBC, shared a message from members of the Black Caucus.

Bradford revealed a little unknown fact about Dr. King’s name. He was born Michael King Jr., on Jan. 15, 1929. In 1934, his father, a pastor, traveled to Germany where he was inspired by Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther, Bradford said.

“As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son,” Bradford shared.

To the delight of the audience at the event, sponsored by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, vocalist Nia Moore-Weathers performed a powerful rendition of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Wilson held a 30-minute fireside chat with guest speaker Kwame Anku about Dr. King’s life, achievements, and vision, and the importance of building wealth in Black families and communities.

Anku is the founding managing partner and chief investment officer of Black Star Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund. He got the idea to start the fund on the urging of Roger “Prince” Nelson, the singer, songwriter, multi-music instrumentalist who passed away in 2016.

Anku said King’s famous 1963 address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the “I Have a Dream speech,” could have been more aptly titled “America, It’s Time to Look in the Mirror” reflecting its core messages of accountability and denied justice.

“We’re telling ourselves how great we are but we’re not living up to the promise that we’ve made to ourselves because that’s the bedrock of what we do,” Anku told Wilson. “So, we’ve come to cash the check because this check guarantees us the riches of freedom and the security of justice. So now we’re not just cashing that check. Now, we are writing those checks.”

This year marks the 57th Anniversary of the CLBC. For nearly six decades, the CLBC has been a key advocate for issues such as fair housing and the prevention of homelessness.

The CLBC plans to continue the legacy of Dr. King by developing legislation around its current priorities, which include pursuing reparations for eligible Black Californians, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, and helping to ensure greater access to education and enterprise for African Americans.

There are 12 members of the CLBC serving in the California Assembly and Senate.

Arts and Culture

Hundreds of Revelers Cheer Parade, Join Fun at Juneteenth Festival in Nicholl Park

A bright sun greeted one of Richmond’s most important community gatherings on June 22: the annual Juneteenth Parade and Festival. Hundreds of people greeted the lengthy parade that began at Kennedy High School, passed under the recently-created Juneteenth Freedom Underpass Mural on 37th Street, and continued on to Nicholl Park, where a colorful festival took place through the afternoon.

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A marching band followed the parade route from Kennedy High School to Nicholl Park. Photos by Mike Aldax and Mike Kinney.
A marching band followed the parade route from Kennedy High School to Nicholl Park. Photos by Mike Aldax and Mike Kinney.

By Mike Aldax, Mike Kinney and
Kathy Chouteau
The Richmond Standard

A bright sun greeted one of Richmond’s most important community gatherings on June 22: the annual Juneteenth Parade and Festival.

Hundreds of people greeted the lengthy parade that began at Kennedy High School, passed under the recently-created Juneteenth Freedom Underpass Mural on 37th Street, and continued on to Nicholl Park, where a colorful festival took place through the afternoon.

Michelle Milam, crime prevention manager for the City of Richmond and an organizer, said the parade boasted 70 entries and the festival had 117 booths staffed with community organizations, businesses, and resources. Soul food was being served by a number of popular local eateries such as CJ’s BBQ & Fish, Snapper Seafood and Cousins Maine Lobster.

The annual event is supported via a partnership between the N.B.A., City of Richmond and Chevron.

The Standard asked dozens of community members at this event what Juneteenth means to them.

“It is a celebration of freedom,” said AJ Jelani, president of the Belding Woods Neighborhood Council.

Jelani founded the nonprofit organization A.J./Sealcraft, which honors African American individuals, organizations, groups, and businesses who contributed to empowering fellow African Americans to improve their communities.

“Juneteenth is a recognition of our culture, our history,” he said. “Our unique past was a functionality of the community. It brought us together.”

Richmond resident Gloria Wilson added, “Juneteenth is a day to remember our ancestors’ struggles for our freedom.”

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia told us the celebration is “about our community coming together.”

“It’s about recognizing the struggles that it has taken up until now, and that there is still work ahead to achieve true equity and equality,” Gioia said.

Gioia noted Richmond is unique for having had an annual Juneteenth parade and festival years before Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday in 2021.

“Richmond has had a great history of winning struggles,” Gioia said. “It is important for us to continue that work.”

“We all have the responsibility to uplift and celebrate how people persevered and continue to persevere in the face of challenge.”

Gioia said that is why the County has an Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice.

“I was just talking to the school board and superintendent about the work we’re doing, and the superintendent was talking about their equity plan for the school district, so it all comes together,” Gioia said. “Agencies working together.”

Richmond City Councilmember Doria Robinson, who helped carry the City Council banner in the parade alongside some of her Council colleagues, said Juneteenth is a celebration of perseverance.

“It’s the day where everyone…can reflect on what happened with slavery and can realize that we all carry that burden,” Robinson said, “and that we all have the responsibility to uplift and celebrate how people persevered, and continue to persevere in the face of challenge.”

Added Councilmember Cesar Zepeda, “Richmond has been at the forefront of making sure that our community is aware of Juneteenth. And just more recently, people are finding out about Juneteenth and celebrating it in their cities. Once again Richmond is at the forefront.”

Fast on the heels of Juneteenth, Richmond will get a jump on Independence Day by celebrating along the waterfront Wednesday, July 3.

The City of Richmond will celebrate the “3rd of July Fireworks & Celebration” July 3 from 5-10 p.m. at Marina Bay Park. The fireworks will start at 9:15 p.m., with the show lasting approximately 20 minutes. Along with the fireworks, festivities will include live music, a selection of food choices and an interactive Fun Zone for the kids. Marina Bay Park is located at Marina Bay & Regatta Blvd. in Richmond.

Also on Wednesday, July 3, “Fireworks at the Point at Riggers Loft Wine Company” will take place from 6-10 p.m. Andre Thierry, a.k.a. “the Zydeco king,” will entertain the crowd while they enjoy a choice of cuisine from five food tents prepared by Chef Frank Miller.

Games, wine, cider, and sodas will also be part of the mix. At 9:15 p.m., the venue—and its bayside patio—are perfectly poised to take in the City of Richmond’s fireworks show, for which beach chairs and blankets are suggested.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $15 for those under 21 and free for kids 5 and under. Purchase tickets here and find Riggers Loft at 1325 Canal Blvd. in Richmond.

For those heading to San Francisco on the Fourth of July, the city’s fireworks are set off via two locations in front of Fisherman’s Wharf: The end of Municipal Pier and barges in front of Pier 39. Transit options from Richmond to San Francisco include the San Francisco Bay Ferry, which will operate on a weekend schedule from Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7—learn more https://sanfranciscobayferry.com/holiday-ferry-schedule

BART will run a Sunday schedule (8 a.m. until midnight) on Independence Day— go to https://www.bart.gov/guide/holidaysfor more information. And visit AC Transit for info on catching a bus.

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Activism

“A Time to Reflect and Rejoice”: Black Caucus Members Commemorate Juneteenth on Assembly Floor

On June 17, two days before Juneteenth, members of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) delivered remarks on the Assembly floor commemorating the national holiday and its significance in American history.
ACR 192, introduced by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), aims to honor, and reflect on the emancipation of African Americans from chattel slavery and honor their contributions throughout America’s history.

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Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa) speaking on the California Assembly Floor.
Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa) speaking on the California Assembly Floor.

By California Black Media

On June 17, two days before Juneteenth, members of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) delivered remarks on the Assembly floor commemorating the national holiday and its significance in American history.

ACR 192, introduced by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), aims to honor, and reflect on the emancipation of African Americans from chattel slavery and honor their contributions throughout America’s history.

Speaking on the Assembly floor, Jones-Sawyer said the resolution is the CLBC’s annual commemoration of Juneteenth as “Freedom Day.”

“Two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the bell of freedom rang true for over 3 million Black Americans, marking the beginning of the fight to secure the freedom of those still enslaved and provide fair and equal treatment for the formerly enslaved,” Jones-Sawyer said.

“Juneteenth is a time to reflect and rejoice for all the work it took to reach this point, as well as a reminder that true equality is not accomplished overnight,” he added. “While there have been great strides to acknowledge and address the history and plight of Black Americans, society, as a whole, still has a long way to go. Juneteenth is an opportunity to educate all communities that we may not repeat injustices and abuses committed in the past.”

The resolution particularly highlights how Black Americans have helped enrich American civic life through their steadfast commitment to promoting unity and equality.

Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa), also a member of the CLBC, spoke on behalf of the Women’s Caucus in support of Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 192, the California Legislature’s resolution acknowledging the federal holiday and celebrating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery.

Weber highlighted that African Americans won their hard-won freedom after providing free labor illegally for two-and-a-half more years in Texas.

Weber shared the story of Opal Lee, known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”  Lee is among numerous civil rights activists and leaders who campaigned for decades for June 19th to be recognized as a federal holiday.

Lee traveled around the country educating people about Juneteenth and led walks each year commemorating Juneteenth before it was federally recognized.

At 89, Lee led a symbolic walk, said Weber, from her hometown of Ft. Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C., leaving in September of 2016 and arriving in January of 2017.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 and Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2024 for her activism.

“Lee represents the millions of women throughout the history of this country who have worked tirelessly to ensure that our history is not erased, reframed nor ignored,” said Weber.

Other lawmakers who recognized Juneteenth on the Assembly floor included Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Chair of the CLBC; Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-Colton), chair of the California Legislative Latino Caucus; Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno); Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-San Bernardino), chair of the California Native American Legislative Caucus; and Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley), also a member of CLBC.

“It is a call-to-action for all Californians to interrogate the systems that keeps others in bondage,” said Wilson.

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Activism

60th Anniversary of Civil Rights Act: Reflecting on Progress and Persistent Challenges

As the United States commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the nation reflects on a transformative law that reshaped American society by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The landmark legislation emerged from a period of intense struggle and demand for the fulfillment of the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”

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The landmark legislation emerged from a period of intense struggle and demand for the fulfillment of the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.” Above, protesters from the March on Washington in 1963. NNPA file photo.
The landmark legislation emerged from a period of intense struggle and demand for the fulfillment of the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.” Above, protesters from the March on Washington in 1963. NNPA file photo.

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire

As the United States commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the nation reflects on a transformative law that reshaped American society by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The landmark legislation emerged from a period of intense struggle and demand for the fulfillment of the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”

Due to widespread opposition to desegregation and the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, President John F. Kennedy urged Congress to pass a comprehensive civil rights bill in June 1963. After Kennedy’s death, President Lyndon B. Johnson, with crucial support from civil rights leaders Roy Wilkins and Clarence Mitchell, championed the bill’s passage.

On July 2, 1964, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibited discrimination in hiring, promoting, and firing, extending these protections to public accommodations and federally funded programs. It also strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and mandated the desegregation of schools.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the nation’s benchmark civil rights legislation, and it continues to resonate in America,” said Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. The Act dismantled “Jim Crow” laws upheld by the 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which had deemed racial segregation constitutional under the “separate but equal” doctrine.

The Act’s impact has been profound and far-reaching. “It propelled a movement that was able to make major civil rights gains,” stated Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. “It has not only changed the arc for Black people. It has changed the arc for women and for other people of color in a profound way.”

Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, highlighted the tangible benefits of the Act, particularly in healthcare and education. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 added years, literally about three to four years, onto the life expectancy of Black people when healthcare had to open its once-segregated doors,” Wiley explained. The Act also significantly reduced segregation in Southern schools, benefiting both Black and white students.

Despite these advancements, the 60th anniversary comes amid concerns over recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings perceived as eroding civil rights protections, including affirmative action, legalized abortion, and diversity initiatives. Critics argue that the Court’s favorable ruling in former President Donald Trump’s immunity case further threatens American democracy. The ruling, which rejected Trump’s sweeping immunity claim but maintained protections for actions tied to presidential duties, has sparked intense debate about the boundaries of presidential power and accountability.

“Securing our civil rights remains the unfinished fight of our time,” President Joe Biden said in a proclamation commemorating the anniversary. “Our country is still facing attacks on some of our most fundamental civil liberties and rights, including the right to vote and have that vote counted and the right to live free from the threat of violence, hate, and discrimination. That is why my administration is remaining vigilant—fighting actively to protect the rights of every American.”

Biden emphasized his commitment to reversing the legacy of segregation and creating new opportunities for all Americans. “My administration is investing more money than ever in Black families and Black communities,” Biden asserted. “We are reconnecting historic business districts and neighborhoods cut off by old highways, redlining, and decades of discrimination and disinvestment. We have invested over $16 billion in historically Black colleges and universities, which will help raise the next generation of Black leaders. At the same time, we are creating good-paying jobs on which people can raise a family; making capital and loans for starting small businesses and buying homes more accessible; and making health insurance and prescription drugs more affordable.”

In popular memory, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was seen as a legislative response to the demands of the March on Washington. “Sixty years later, we must be honest: the federal minimum wage, indexed for inflation, is lower than it was in 1964,” said Rev. William Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “What’s more, because the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in its 2013 Shelby decision and Congress has failed to remedy it, we have less voting rights protections today than we did on August 6, 1965.”

Barber continued, “The celebration of historic wins alongside this egregious decay is a source of discontent among everyday Americans. But we have no time for despair. We are determined to channel discontent for a resurrection rather than an insurrection.”

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