On April 19, the California African American Chamber of Commerce (CALAACC) hosted the “Honorable Gwen Moore California Legislative Reception.” The event celebrated the former California State Assemblymember with fond memories shared by colleagues, family, and friends. Moore, who passed away in August 2020, served in the California State Assembly from 1978 until 1994.
The reception took place in the ballroom of the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. Former California State Sen. Roderick “Rod” Wright and former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown discussed Moore’s extraordinary accomplishments in the political arena.
Brown, 89, explained that Moore did not vote for him when he became the first Black American Speaker of the State Assembly in 1981. She thought he was punishing her when he assigned her to an Assembly committee that Black lawmakers typically did not serve on.
Brown told the audience his intention was to place Black individuals in non-Black chairmanships. He said during his speakership, he was determined to expand the roles of Black lawmakers beyond traditional committees.
Brown shared that Moore eventually expressed her gratitude to him saying, “I am indebted to you for life. You just given me the opportunity to do something that no other Black person in the history of California has had the chance to do.”
Wright, 70, said he met Moore before she served on the Los Angeles Community College District Board in 1975. He worked on Moore’s campaign for the countywide position.
Like Moore before him, Wright served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, which oversees telecommunications, electricity, private water corporations, natural gas, and other issues related to exchanging goods and services between businesses.
“It was one of the things that I looked forward to doing. Gwen would say to me, ‘Let me tell you how this committee works,’” Wright said. “Because, unlike everyone before me, I had to chair (the Committee on Utilities and Commerce) in the middle of an energy crisis. Gwen Moore was a true asset to me as a Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce.”
Former California-Hawaii State Conference NAACP President Alice Huffman could not attend the conversation portion of the reception. A statement was read in her absence.
“Gwen was a loyal member of NAACP, serving both on the state’s executive committee for several years as well as on the National Board of the NAACP,” Huffman stated. “She was a loyal and dedicated member and gave her all to each of the boards she served. She embodied the true spirit of loyalty and dedication.”
The reception was attended by former and current lawmakers, business leaders, and members of the California Legislative Black Caucus. The event was hosted by KOVR 13’s Darla Givens and the Rev. Tecoy Porter, Senior Pastor of Genesis Church Sacramento, provided the invocation.
Timothy Alan Simon, CALAACC’s chair, provided an in-depth update of the business chambers’ goals for 2023 and introduced members of his organization and the California Legislature.
CALAACC is the state’s largest Black business chamber organization. Its mission is to “drive economic opportunity and wealth creation for African American businesses, connect and harness the collective strength of our statewide network of member organizations to elevate fiscal health,” according to the group’s website.
Simon highlighted that Moore was the architect and political force behind California General Order 156. This state supplier diversity program helped to strengthen and stabilize many California Black-owned, Women-owned and other minority-owned small businesses by assisting them in securing lucrative state contracts.
“In 2022, the total spent under General Order 156 with our California investors’ own utility was $14 billion, 30.1% classified as diverse and $18.44% minority,” Simon said. “African American businesses received close to $2 billion in utilities contracts.”
Sponsors of the two-hour reception included AT&T, California American Water, Sempra, SoCalGas, Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs, and Southern California Edison.
CALAACC Government Relations Chair and mayor of Rialto Deborah Robertson and State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) welcomed guests and speakers on behalf of the organization. Los Angeles City Councilmember Heather Hutt (10th District) introduced Ms. Moore’s family members while praising her accomplishments.
“She fought in the Assembly (and) she fought alongside iconic Speaker Willie Brown, and she also fought for small businesses,” Hutt said. “She was the queen of diversity, and she was the person to think about small businesses and how businesses can do business with other businesses.”
During the reception, a special award ceremony recognized African American individuals whose ideas, leadership, business acumen, and political advocacy have improved the lives of people in communities across California.
The CALAACC presented the Gwen Moore Legislative Impact Award to Sen. Bradford, representative of the 35th District and Vice Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus; the Outstanding Advocacy Award went to Carolyn Veal-Hunter, Partner at Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates; and Regina Wilson, Executive Director, California Black Media, received the Aubry Stone Outstanding Business Award.
The Gwen Moore California Legislative Reception Committee members Pat Watts, Ahmad Holmes, Caliph Assagai, Larry Bradshaw, Cheryl Brownlee, Deanna Roberts and Robertson were acknowledged by Simon for their efforts put into organizing an event in the name of an influential lawmaker and businesswoman.
“I’m honored to be here, not only the achievements of the California African American Chamber of Commerce, but the legacy of Gwen Moore,” Bradford said. “The impact that she had, not only public utilities, but the Legislature as a whole. The work that Gwen Moore started 30 years ago is still needed today.”