(L to R) Dr. Diane Watson, Xernona Clayton, Beverly Kuykendall, Mary (Nzinga) Kimbrough, Debra Watkins, Norma Hollis, Skip Cooper II, and Gwen Moore (seated) (photo credit SABIR MAJEED)
As a part of its salute to Black women last Saturday, the Black Business Association (BBA) held an awards luncheon paying tribute to a group of distinguished Black women.
Paying tribute to the impressive lineup of honorees last Saturday, the BBA (BBA) scored another of its many victories under the leadership of Skip Cooper (president and CEO of BBA) and Gwen Moore (chairwoman of BBA). It saluted the California Alliance of African American Educators [CAAAE] (Educational Institution Award); Mary (Nzinga) Kimbrough and Jackie Kimbrough Ryan (Community-based Business Award); Beverly Kuykendall (Entrepreneur of the Year Award); Dr. Julian Hare (Exemplary Educator Award); Xerona Clayton (Educational Heritage Award); and Dr. Diane Watson (Lifetime Achievement Award).
Norma Hollis acted as mistress of ceremonies. Each honoree share a bit of their life experience as they were celebrated.
Accepting the award on behalf of the CAAAE, Debra Watkins related how its mission has always been to create a forum for the exchange of ideas and strategies and to improve the educational opportunities for African Americans.
She said CAAAE’s headquarters is in San Jose and it has six offices throughout the state.
Mary (Nzinga) Kimbrough, co-owner of Zambezi Bazaar, one of the businesses in Leimert Park, is from a very distinguished family of business men and women; her grandfather was William Nickerson, founder of Golden State Insurance Company, the premier and prestigious Black insurance company in California.
Beverly Kuykendall spoke of her upbringing and how her mother (who was present in the audience) stressed to her children, the value of education, education and education! It was hilarious when she stated, “I didn’t go pass Crenshaw (Blvd) until after I graduated from college.”
Then came the one and only Xernona Clayton, founder and president of the Trumpet Awards Foundation and the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. She held the audience’s attention when she related that she took Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the airport for that ill-fated rendezvous in Memphis on April 4, 1968 – and her interaction with Dr. King’s children that day. It was spell-binding.
Finally, it was time for the mother of California’s African American politicians, the incomparable Dr. Diane Watson, former state senator (the first Black woman in California); ambassador, congress-woman and a lifelong educator. She said, for her “college was the way up and the way out.” And she stayed in college even while she was in office.
The BBA is a non-profit organization that has been instrumental in the incubation and development of more than 15,000 African American businesses. It maintains very effective working relationships with elected and appointed officials for the support of African American business development.