The East Bay Small Business Council recently honored several local leaders for their dedication to business and the community.
Featured speakers at the Small Business Council’s Black History Month program, held at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle in downtown Oakland Feb. 20, were Rev. Zachary E. Carey of True Vine Ministries, former Oakland Mayor Elihu M. Harris and State Assembly Member Rob Bonta, 18th Assembly District.
Honorees were former Oakland School Board vice president Alice Spearman; Charlie Walker, president of Walker Trucking Company; Len Turner, president of Turner Group Construction; San Francisco Regional Center president Tom Henderson; and Post News Group publisher, Paul Cobb.
Developer Charlie Walker stated that the fight for Blacks to get contracts is the same today as it was 30 years ago.
“If we do not protest and fight against those that are doing business in the Bay Area with government monies and refuse to hire us and provide contracts to those of us that are Black and helped build these communities, we should shut the project down,” said Walker, who went on to discuss that many small business owners are afraid to speak out and those with smaller contracts miss the big picture.
Assemblyman Rob Bonta spoke of his support of small businesses and his advocacy in the region. “I am proud to practice what I advocate, and I have supported the business model of one of tonight’s honorees, Post publisher Paul Cobb.”
“It is important to value our local businesses and support them,” said Bonta.
Tom Henderson, owner of the Tribune Building and I. Magnin Towers, was honored for creating more than 500 jobs in Oakland and partnering with African Americans.
Henderson introduced some of his new partners including Sam Taylor, former Cincinnati Reds baseball player turned entrepreneur with Tesh Sports. Taylor’s move from sports figure to sports entrepreneur began when his career was cut short due to ankle injuries.
Through his partnerships, Henderson plans to open nearly a dozen restaurants, a grocery store and a warehouse, among other projects.
“Job creation in Oakland is of the utmost importance to me and through multiple models, I’ve achieved this,” he said. “The opportunities are tremendous and partnerships are key.”
Oakland Post/Post News Group publisher Paul Cobb was recognized for excellence in journalism and advocacy.
Cobb shared his excitement of how members of the tech industry have recently committed nearly $20 billion toward diversity and inclusion. Cobb, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma 50 years ago, is connected to the Black Lives Matter protests of today.
“Our youth are fighting the same fight we fought with King,” he said. “Today our youth have more of a chance due to access to technology and information, combined with entrepreneurship. The partnerships Tom Henderson has created are invaluable examples of how to transform a city and change the future of the next generation.”
Wil Hardee, former Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce president; Elaine Brown, president of Oakland & the World and former Black Panther Party founder; and Timothy White, OUSD Deputy Chief of Facilities, were also honored but not in attendance.