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My Friend Harold

Thursday, October 16, 2014

On Friday, folks from L.A to Louisiana will say goodbye to Harold Hambrick, President of the Los Angeles Black Business Expo (LABBX). He is a hard act to follow.


My “brother from another mother,” Harold and I were born on the same day, in the same hospital in New Orleans, but different years.  We often celebrated our joint birthdays, played golf together, did business together and supported each other’s dreams.  He was a real stand-up guy, who always wanted the best for everyone.


A longtime friend and supporter of Inglewood Today, Harold was instrumental in driving new advertisers to our publication, through his vast network of entrepreneurs.  The annual Expo edition was among one of the most well-read. 


Beside the myriad of enterprising businesses and activities, the Expo brought Black Los Angeles together in a way that few events could.  It was exciting capturing those moments and recording history. During the long and successful run of the LABBX, you could find the Inglewood Today staff among the many proud exhibitors on the L.A. Convention Center floor.


At one time, the Expo boasted as many as 100,000 visitors in one weekend!  But as impressive as that is, Harold never forgot where he came from. In fact, one of his many achievements was bringing our New Orleans heritage to Los Angeles.  Reasoning that our culture was too good to be tied to Louisiana only, he was one of the original founders of LALA (Louisiana to Los Angeles Organizing Committee Inc.) in 1988. 


Harold also served as the Master of Ceremony for the annual Mardi Gras Scholarship Ball.  In 2005, he was selected as the LALA King, all decked out in Mardi Gras attire. 


Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, it seems Harold always had his hands in something.  And most everything he did had a positive impact on the community. Beside his phenomenal work as President of the LABBX, Harold had a successful career as a health care executive and advocate.


Harold’s love for the community moved him from a corporate position with IBM to what later became Watts Health Systems (WHS).  He was on a mission to bring quality healthcare to underserved communities…and he did!  He also founded the Watts Coffee House which was a training ground for many young chefs in South Central Los Angeles.


I am going to miss my friend, Harold, especially on my birthday, Feb. 17th. It’s not often that you meet someone born on your own birthday.  And even rarer, that you will ever meet someone like Harold Hambrick.

Turning The Corner

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The economic recession is said to be nothing more now than a moment in American history. As Americans pick up the pieces of the homes they’ve lost, complete insulting personality tests to determine if they possess the IQ to push shopping carts around Wal-Mart parking lots, and extinguish their third and final extensions on unemployment benefits, the Boomers find themselves having to return to school and find roommates, while the Millennials find themselves choosing to create their own businesses rather than compete in the brutal job market.

Why are so many Americans giving up on finding jobs and taking their economic futures into their own hands? Let’s start with:


Antiquated Business Practices-


Businesses and brands are finding themselves reevaluating their workplace environments, adding new furniture, playing recreational music, incentives, and freedoms of dress code just to optimize performance. Successful owners understand the climate is changing, and not because of overuse of fossil fuels.  Studies show that 71% of young people say they would rather quit their jobs and work for themselves. Old companies run with old philosophies are no longer attractive to the young workforce anymore. Sixty percent of them all say they will start their own businesses within a year or so.


Social Media


The Internet has connected the world in a way that peace treaties and international alliances could never do. Young people have worlds of information at their fingertips faster, and more often than ever before in history, and it’s only getting faster. They’re more informed, and they’re joining forces. The Internet has resulted in the creation of social communities like, where individuals meet online based on common interests, then meet in person to network and socialize.


About 98% of people age 18-34 use social media. That’s a lot of young people, communicating with a lot of young people, which translates into hundreds of millions of dollars in “new” revenue. Social media is now an industry and it’s a young person’s industry. If we need refreshing, Mark Zuckerberg was the youngest billionaire in the world. He single-handedly transformed the perspectives of young people who saw someone who looked like them, and became the owner of a multinational empire, while doing it his way. Just look at the headquarters of Facebook! Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google in their 20’s when they incorporated Google in 1998. David Karp, CEO of microblogging website Tumblr, is only 28 years old.


What does this mean for Inglewood? As a city with a rich history on a path to blossom into a world-class destination, we have to begin opening our doors and creating opportunities for young entrepreneurs and start-ups that think outside the box. The next step in our history has to include a step toward creating opportunities to generate revenue in areas that didn't exist prior to the market crash of 2008.


Our city yields more than 50,000 young minds and a 67% population that's under the age of 45. We need an influx of young creative energy into Inglewood that will become contagious and invigorating, and breed new ideas.  Inglewood can become the internationally renowned city we desire to be. Just look at San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Colorado, and Palo Alto. If James Brown were alive today, I think he would agree that it’s no longer just a man’s world, it’s a young people’s world.


Harold Hambrick Passes at 71

Thursday, October 16, 2014

“Harold Hambrick, Jr., Community Treasure.” This is just one of the phrases used to describe the remarkable man widely known for the Los Angeles Black Business Expo (LABBX).  It is the epitome of who Harold was to those who knew him and benefited from his enormous heart.


The official obituary, published on the front page of, highlights the life of the visionary leader with a passion for all things African American, business and community.


Hambrick died on Oct. 8.  Cause of death was not immediately known, but Hambrick’s life was one well lived, as expressed in his lengthy obituary.  Here’s an excerpt:

As president of BBX, Hambrick took pride in showing off the history, services and accomplishments of the Black community, which he referred to as “the family.”  He promoted the show as a way to introduce “relatives” to each other and to those outside the family.    The first Black consumer show to run in the Tom Bradley Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, the annual effort was massive. In its heyday in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the show included up to 400 vendors and nearly 300 workers on event day, providing an array of services.


“We allow folk to use their God-given talents to help us pull off one of the largest events held in celebration of the Black family,” he said.


Hambrick’s work was driven by the word “family” for the past 45 years.   From biological family to the entire African American family, his conversations revolved around the power of “connectedness;” how we’ve worked together in the past and how we must continue to work together in order to leave businesses and cultural institutions from which future generations can benefit.  As a demonstration of his support of the “community family” he could frequently be found at the events in the Black community, from book festivals to food festivals, to marketplace–type events and to music festivals—large and small.


Hambrick took pride in the fact that people who might not have seen each other in a long time, would reunite at the Expo. Attendees could be seen chatting in the aisles, visiting the vendors or participating in one of the Expo’s signature events, such as the Tom Bradley Business Institute, the Tastin’ Black Culture Food Court, West Coast “Coolture” Fashion Show; West Coast Black Music Festival, West Coast GospeLive, Kids World, Black College Row, The Health, Sports and Fitness Pavilion, Black Writers On Tour, the Hair Show, Youth Summit and Auto Land. 


LABBX also offered businesses an opportunity to connect with owners of Black Newspapers throughout the state.  At the 2006 Expo, Hambrick pulled together a meeting with then-Governor Schwarzenegger and publishers of African American newspapers throughout the state to discuss issues of concern to the Black press.


Born in New Orleans and raised in Slidell, Louisiana, Hambrick graduated from a segregated high school with 50 classmates.  Three days after graduation, he left the state to join his parents and siblings in Los Angeles. 


A graduate of Pepperdine University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Hambrick was also the owner of an income tax service in the Crenshaw district for more than 30 years.


He leaves to cherish his memory, his wife, Marguerett, three children, Jeffrey, Sharon and Tyra, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild, four siblings and a host of relatives and friends.




Isidra Person-Lynn, Communications Specialist, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, previously worked with Hambrick, and spoke with him just 2 days before he died:


“He spoke of many plans and dreams. In the over 20 years I worked for him, his plans and visions usually came true…He was much more than a boss, he was building a community and was thought to be honorary Mayors of both Leimert Park and Watts. And his L.A. Black Business Expo (which hired all five of my sons each year) launched many careers and businesses and brought the ‘family’ together.”


I last saw Harold at a business mixer. We shared a table at Denny’s on Crenshaw and he paid for my breakfast.  I thanked him and he said “It’s the least I can do for all you’ve done for me.”  I didn’t feel I’d done anything special (writing articles on the Expo over the years was part of my job).  But I walked a little taller, realizing in this sometime callous world of business, any show of appreciation is a blessing.


Memorial Service


Public visitation will be held on Thursday, October 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Harrison-Ross Mortuary, 4601 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles.   “Memorial Remembrances of Harold Hambrick” will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. also on Thursday, at Greater Liberty Baptist Church, 6557 S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles.  The celebration of life funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, October 17, at Victory Baptist Church, 4802 S. McKinley Avenue, Los Angeles.  The Eulogist will be Rev. Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Jr., Pastor, Bryant Temple A.M.E. Church.  The Officiant will be Rev. Theodore Peters, Harold’s cousin and Pastor of the Greater Liberty Baptist Church.


In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the River Road African American Museum, C/O Harold Hambrick Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 266, Donaldsonville, LA 70343.  









The “City of Champions” will welcome a very special group of Olympians next summer when the 2015 Special Olympics World Games come to Los Angeles.  Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts will announce that Inglewood has been named a “Host Town” during a press conference at the Fabulous Forum on Thursday, October 16. 


As a Host Town, Inglewood will play a supportive role for approximately 100 Special Olympic participants from Tuesday, July 21 through Friday, July 24, 2015.  The City will provide meals, accommodations and a variety of engaging events and fun-filled activities.


“The City of Inglewood is proud to be a Host Town in preparation for the 2015 Special Olympics. The competition of over 7,000 athletes will be witnessed by over one-half million people,” the mayor said.


The 2015 Special Olympics World Games will take place in Los Angeles July 25 - August 2, 2015, and will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony will be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games.


“The Host Town program is an exciting way for Southern California locals to open our doors and show the athletes and coaches from around the world our hospitality and our culture,” said Patrick McClenahan, president and chief executive officer of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee. “This is an important part of the World Games experience and a truly meaningful way for different communities to be part of the Games and create lasting memories for our visiting athletes.”


Mayor Butts will be joined by Lakers Coach (and Morningside High School alumnus) Byron Scott; Michelle Core, Global Messenger 2015 World Games; Dana DuFine, SVP West Coast, Madison Square Garden Co.; Artie Fields, Inglewood City Manager; Mark Fronterotta, Inglewood Chief of Police; Eric Holly, Executive Director of Inglewood Chamber of Commerce; Joann Klonowski, LA2015 representative; Norm Nixon, former Laker and 2-Time NBA Champion; Nick Spampanato, General Manager of the Forum; and Reggie Theus, former NBA Player and coach.  Inglewood Parks and Recreation Director Sabrina Barnes will sing the U.S. national anthem.


 The 2015 Special Olympics World Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.  The global event is expected to draw 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches, representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators.


The Host Town program has been an important element of Special Olympics World Games since 1995, and the experience has left a lasting impression on the local communities in Ireland, Japan, China, Greece, South Korea and the United States, all of which have previously organized Host Town programs as part of the Special Olympics World Games.


On April 30, 2014, LA2015 and ESPN announced a global programming deal that will see ESPN bring coverage of World Games to millions of fans around the world. Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as honorary hosts.


For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit








Are You Feelin’ Blackish?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The new ABC comedy, “Blackish,” starring Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Laurence Fishburne premiered September 24th to mixed reviews.


Now, I have a strict “third-time's-the-charm” rule when it comes to my entertainment. If I’m not feelin' a show by the third episode, that’s pretty much grounds for me to quit watching. Well, this week I saw the third episode of “Blackish” and I still can’t decide if I like it.


Apparently, I’m not alone. There are many who feel like the show perpetuates outdated stereotypes about black families. Others find it spot-on and hysterical. I’m somewhere in the middle. There have been some definite laugh out loud moments to date (See Dre walking in on his son during a very private moment, Rainbow reminding Dre of her blackness—her hair and derriere, etc.) but the chemistry is off. Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne are all great individually, but together?


The show feels like a bunch of individuals living life in the same house rather than a family interacting with each other. It doesn’t feel like Dre and Rainbow are a married couple but rather two working parents who happen to sleep under the same roof. At least Fishburne and Anderson have some chemistry as father and son. Maybe it’s just first season jitters and everyone has to grow comfortable with each other, but isn’t that what table reads and rehearsals are for?


Aside from the awkward vibes, I can’t decide if I agree with the message being told. The latest episode entitled, “The Nod” deals with the common act of acknowledging another person of color when you see them in public. African-Americans give “the nod” as a means of saying “what’s up?” or “I see you.”  Dre tries to get Junior to understand this ritual. I loved it and I agree it’s a staple to black culture but there are other things in Blackish that make me scratch my head.


Dre tries every episode to bring his kids back to what he thinks is essential black culture and yet he constantly puts his wife’s “blackness” under constant investigation. He constantly brings up the fact that’s she’s half black so she doesn’t get black culture and yet he always wants her to support him in trying to educate his family on what black culture is. Rainbow seems to fall close to the “post-racial/new black” mentality which I cannot get behind at all.


Blackish has the potential to be great, it just needs to figure out what it’s about.


What do you guys think? Love it? Hate it? Somewhere in the middle? Hit me up at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or, if you're reading this on, let me know in the comments!

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