Black History Month: Calif. Legislative Black Caucus and Black Chamber Join Hands to Honor Businesses Owners

The California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) and the California Black Chamber of Commerce (CALBCC)  celebrated Black-owned businesses from across the state at its 2024 Legislative Business Brunch, held at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento on Feb. 12. 

Arzella J. Valentine, 97, accepted a CLBC/CBCC Business Award for owning Woods-Valentine Mortuary in Pasadena. The mortuary started in 1928 and Ms. Valentine and her now-deceased husband Fred Valentine bought the business in 1958. Feb. 12, 2024.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ |‌ ‌California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

The California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) and the California Black Chamber of Commerce (CALBCC)  celebrated Black-owned businesses from across the state at its 2024 Legislative Business Brunch, held at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento on Feb. 12. 

The event, part of the CLBC’s Black History Month celebrations, honored the business owners for their outstanding achievements, impact on communities, enduring legacy, and high level of professionalism.

Shown left to right, CBBC President and CEO Jay King, Asm. Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), J’Maica Thomas, Kalkidan “Kalu” Gebreyohannes, Asm. Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). Thomas and Gebreyohannes are the co-owners of Blk Girls Green House in Oakland. The business specializes in plant and specialty home goods. (CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey)

Jay King, CALBCC President and CEO, and CLBC Chair, Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), and CLBC Vice Chair, Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood), hosted the event. 

“I thank each and every one of you for being here for this grand occasion organized to celebrate and honor Black business owners from around the state of California for their hard work, dedication, perseverance, and tenacity,” King said. “These are but a few of the attributes that must be on display at all times for Black business to survive.”

Cary Earle is the co-owner of Earle’s Restaurant in Los Angeles, specifically in the Crenshaw community. (CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey)

This year’s Black History Month business awardees are: Flawless Cutz and Stylez (Bakersfield); Imperial Electric Service (Fresno); OC Podiatry (Orange); Seashells Realty Group (San Jose); SER Transportation Services (Sacramento);Chez Soul (Fairfield); Beauchamp Distributing Company (Compton); BLK Girl Greenhouse (Oakland); South LA Café (Los Angeles); D.R. Roberts Event Management (Oakland); Sal’s Gumbo Shack (Long Beach); Leading Edge Learning Center (Moreno Valley); Woody’s Bar-B-Que (Los Angeles); Urban Roots Brewery and Smokehouses (Sacramento); Detour Hair Studios and Earle’s Restaurant (Inglewood); and Spacebar Café  (La Mesa). 

All of the awards were presented by King and members of the CLBC.

“As we gather here today, let us reaffirm our collective commitment to fostering an environment where Black businesses can thrive and continue to be meaningful to the economic landscape of California,” said Wilson, the chairperson of CLBC. “We continue to look forward to continuing our collaboration with the California Black Chamber of Commerce and stakeholders dedicated to empowering and uplifting Black-owned businesses.”

Asm. Mike Gipson (D-Carson) presents the CBLC/CBCC business award to Acelda Bevans, the owner of Sal’s Gumbo Shack in Long Beach. (CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey)

One of the oldest Black businesses in the state, Woods-Valentine Mortuary of Pasadena, received a special recognition for its longevity and contributions to its community. The mortuary was established by James and Annie Mae Woods in 1928 in the area now known as Old Pasadena.

Fred Valentine and his brothers were employed by the mortuary. Then, in 1958, Valentine and his wife, Arzella J. Valentine, purchased the business and renamed it Woods-Valentine. 

Mr. Valentine passed away at the age of 98 in 2017. Their daughters Janyce Valentine and Gail Valentine-Taylor now operate the business with their 97-year-old mother, who was present at the brunch.

“I’ve known this family for about 40 years. I am so proud of this family,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), who represents Assembly District (AD) 41 where the Woods-Valentine business is located. 

Holden presented the award to the Valentine family. 

While growing up, Holden said he learned about the 96-year-old mortuary business through one of the most effective forms of advertising in the Black community: church hand-held cooling fans.

Holden reflected on how the fans, for decades, were an important medium for information and advertising in Black communities across the United States for businesses like insurance companies, funeral homes, law firms, car dealerships and more. 

State Controller Malia M. Cohen was the keynote speaker, and she was presented with the CLBC’s Chair Award. Tara Lynn Gray, the Director of California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), also delivered remarks.

Toks Omishakin, California Secretary of Transportation, was a


King urged the business owners to continue to be exemplars and beacons of hope for other Black entrepreneurs and companies in the state.

“The business owners you see here have survived many obstacles and barriers, have been denied access to capital and other necessary resources to succeed, and have been told ‘no,’” King said. “But we say today, ‘thank you’ and ‘we appreciate you,’ with the hopes that they must carry the message: don’t quit and keep pushing.”