Aubry Stone, founder and CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce died Wednesday. He was 74 years old. He fought tirelessly to secure economic opportunities for African Americans throughout the state and beyond and now, after a long battle with cancer, he’s at rest. Jerome Horton of the Board of Equalization stated, “He was the civil rights leader and conscious of the business community who lead with grace, competence, and compassion; I thank God for his life and legacy.”
Stone, affectionately referred to by many as “Stoney,” was a formidable champion for Black entrepreneurs and was considered to be a giant in the small business community. While he was a native of Brooklyn, New York, his name was synonymous with California and was a familiar face — and voice — at the State Capitol.
“He was a pioneer and fierce advocate for minority business enterprise and for the Black community. He championed equal opportunities in the private and public sectors, and always talked about the need for better access to capital,” shared Los Angeles City Councilmember and former Assemblymember Curren Price.
“Aubry Stone was a fierce unapologetic supporter of all things Black,” shared former California Assemblymember Cheryl Brown.
“He was our champion,” Ms. Brown continued.
Stone and five others created the California Black Chamber of Commerce in 1995 with the mission of providing programs and services to strengthen Black ownership and business opportunities throughout the state. The California Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation also operates radio station KDEE FM 97.5.
Stone served on the California Regional Community Utilities Diversity Council, the Citibank Regional Community Board, the California Small Business Advisory Board, the CalTrans Small Business Board, and the Greenlining Coalition. He served on the Boards of the NAACP, the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor’s Economic Development Council, the District Attorney’s Community Relations Board, and the State Fair Minority Council.
He was also the founder and president of A. Stone & Associates, a corporate diversity-training firm designed to improve communications for increased productivity and break down stereotypes.
He also took on national leadership roles, at a time serving on the Pfizer National Minority Business Board and as Chairman of the United States Black Chamber of Commerce. He recently travelled to Africa to explore and promote business opportunities for Black business owners.
Upon his passing, many are reflecting on the legacy Stone leaves behind.
“He will be remembered as an outstanding force for economic and social justice,” shared California Hawaii State NAACP President Alice Huffman.
“Under Aubry’s leadership the CBCC has become not only a pillar of the community, but an invaluable resource for so many. Aubry will be greatly missed and we hope his family can find some comfort in the legacy he has left us all,” said Elk Grove Assemblymember Jim Cooper.
Stone championed issues ranging from redlining practices to African American procurement of contracts and recently spoke out about the inequities of legalized marijuana as it relates to African Americans and African American business owners.
“In America, economics are critical. It is incumbent upon us to connect small business development to the larger cause of improving the economic outlook of Black communities,” Stone told the Sacramento OBSERVER in 2003, when he was named one of the city’s most influential African Americans.
Throughout the years, Stone stacked up countess accolades and awards, including being recognized by several California governors, the California Legislature and most recently, the California Legislative Black Caucus, who honored him in June.
Memorial arrangements have not yet been announced. He is survived by his four children, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.