All Articles Tagged "california"

How Former Slave Biddy Mason Died A Wealthy Real Estate Investor And Philanthropist

February 24th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Black History is so important to me personally because any time I get ready to complain about something…virtually anything, I can think back on the people, Black men and women in this country who had far less resources and material means than I do today, but somehow managed to accomplish great feats.

Today, we’re highlighting and honoring Bridget “Biddy” Mason.

Biddy was born into slavery in Hancock County, Georgia on August 15, 1818. (Some sources cite Mississippi.) She had both African American and Native American ancestry but she was separated from her parents and sold several times, so no one ever recorded her last name. She worked on plantations in Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. She spent most of childhood on John Smithson’s plantation in South Carolina where she worked as a midwife to the other house servants.

In 1836, when Mason was 18, Smithson gifted Biddy to his cousins Robert and Rebecca Smith as a wedding present.

With the Smiths, she continued working as a midwife, birthing six of the Smith children. She also worked outdoors in the cotton fields and with livestock.

Biddy had three daughters. Historians believe all three children were Robert’s.

Around the time Biddy’s second daughter was born, Robert became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A few years later, they left Mississippi for what is now Salt Lake City, Utah. The group was made up of 56 Whites and 34 Black slaves, including Mason and her three daughters, the youngest of which was still an infant.  The slaves, on the 2,000 mile, 7 month journey, were required to walk behind the wagons and livestock. After walking all day, the slaves were responsible for cooking, cleaning and tending to the animals. Biddy, specifically, was responsible for setting up camp and packing it up in the morning. During the trip several children were born to both Blacks and Whites. Biddy helped to deliver them.

When a group of Mormon pioneers decided to leave for San Bernardino, California, Robert Smith decided to go with them. His decision would eventually lead to Biddy’s liberation.

In 1849, California forbid slavery and entered the Union in 1850 as a free state. Slave owners who had arrived before 1850 were allowed to keep their slaves as indentured servants. Smith, Biddy, her daughters and the rest of the slaves in the party arrived in 1851.

Smith likely did not know California was a free state.

Once they’d reached San Bernardino, several free Blacks told Biddy that she could live as a free woman here. One person in particular, Charles Owens, took a particular interest in Biddy and her daughters’ freedom because he had been dating Biddy’s eldest daughter Ellen.

Once Smith learned that California was not only a free state, but the anti-slavery sentiment was growing, he decided to travel to Texas, in order to settle there and sell his slaves for a profit. The trip was delayed because another woman owned by Smith was about to give birth to another one of his children.

While they waited for her give birth, Charles Owens’ parents persuaded the county sheriff to prevent Smith from taking his slaves out of the state.  The sheriff kept the slaves in the county jail for protection. Meanwhile Owens filed a petition stating that Smith was holding his slaves illegally in a free state. Smith tried to assert that they weren’t slaves but members of his family.

Los Angeles County District Judge Benjamin Hayes granted the petition and set all of Smith’s slaves free on January 21,1856.

The Owens family invited Mason and her family to live with them in Los Angeles. Charles and Biddy’s first daughter married soon after that. In L.A. she continued her work as a midwife and nurse for a doctor. She became known for her herbal remedies and delivered babies for families of all races and social classes. She earned $2.50 a day, which was considered a good wage for a Black woman at the time. She offered her services for free to those who were unable to pay. After working as a midwife for ten years, she’d saved $250.

With her savings she bought two plots of land on the outskirts of the city near Spring, Fort, Third and Fourth  Streets.

She was one of the first African American women to buy property in America.

Initially, she used the land for gardening and built small, wooden houses to rent for additional income. She did this for the next 18 years. She moved to her own land in 1884, sold the initial piece for $1,500 and built a commercial building on another part. She rented out storerooms on the first floor and lived with her family on the second.

The neighborhood developed quickly. And by the late 1800’s Biddy was the wealthiest African American woman in L.A.

But what is most admirable about Biddy is that she didn’t just sit on her money and influence. She used it to help uplift others. She founded a travel’s aid center and an elementary school for Black children. In 1872, she was instrumental in founding the city’s First African Methodist Episcopal church, the first Black church in L.A. She donated the land where the church was built.

When she died on January 15, 1891, she spoke fluent Spanish, had dined with the mayor and had amassed a fortune of $300,000.

She was buried in an unmarked grave but in 1988, during a ceremony attended by the mayor of Los Angeles and members of the church she founded, the tombstone was located and marked.

Her great granddaughter, Gladys Owens Smith quoted Mason as saying, “If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.”

Thank you Ms. Biddy Mason!

Goapele Gives Us a Tour of Oakland for Black History Month

February 24th, 2015 - By jade
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A Black Mecca is a city where a good amount of African Americans live and thrive in the community on a daily basis. When you hear of a Black mecca you always think of places such as Atlanta and DC but in this segment, Goapele gives us a tour of her hometown Oakland, California. We are encouraging locals to support and celebrate small town businesses in the area during black history month!

Click here to see our editors tour St. Louis.


For more information on the places that were featured in the segment see below:

Oakland School for the Arts

530 18th St.

Oakland, CA 94612

Miss Ollie’s 

901 Washington St.

Oakland, CA 94607

Owl N Wood

45 Grand Ave.

Oakland, CA 94612

Zoo Labs

1035 7th St.

Oakland, CA 94607


Proposed California Bill Plans To Punish Companies Who Overpay Their CEOs

April 26th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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The general public usually gets outraged when they hear about exorbitant executive salaries, particularly for companies that aren’t doing very well. California is now trying to take action against the ever-expanding salary gap between CEOs and employees with a process to ban  “out of whack” CEO salaries.

A new bill that will do just that is in the state Legislature with support from Democratic leaders, organized labor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, reports The Huffington Post.

According to Reich,  the bill would reward “responsible” companies by giving them lower tax rates and ultimately help the middle class by boosting the U.S. economy.

Under bill SB1372 companies that pay CEOs more than 100 times the median wage of their workers would have to pay a higher corporate tax rate. But on the other hand, firms with a smaller wage gap would benefit from a lower rate.

Currently  the tax rate is 8.84 percent of net income for all corporations. For cooperating companies it would be dropped down to 7 percent and for offending firms it would be increased to 13 percent .

Of course there is opposition to the bill. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, the proposed bill would cause cost jobs.  “Chamber lobbyist Jennifer Barrera told the committee the bill would discourage corporate investment in California,” reports HuffPo.

And Gina Rodriquez, the California Taxpayers Association’s vice president for state tax policy, claimed it would make California appear hostile to business.

The naysayers might be jumping the gun. Even the authors of the bill aren’t sure of its passage since it will need a two-thirds super-majority, which seems unlikely since Republicans are expected to vote against it.

Still the Dems say such a bill, the first of its kind in the nation, is important and necessary. AFL-CIO data shows that chief executives received an average compensation of 43 times the median U.S. worker’s pay in 1983. And the gap is a whole lot bigger today — 278 times a typical wage.  There is even more proof of the gap.  The CEOs of companies listed in Standard & Poor’s 500 index received an average of 354 times more in salary than the median employee in 2012.

“The issue of widening inequality of income and wealth and opportunity and political power is one that the United States is now becoming aware of because things are getting so out of kilter,” Reich said to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

Faith Evans Says She’s Not Looking For Love & That Marriage Does Not Solidify A Couple’s Bond

January 26th, 2014 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Singer Faith Evans hit up the Bethenny show last week and chatted it up about her relationship with Diddy, the last time she saw Whitney Houston alive and of course, relationships.

Faith’s 14 year marriage to Todd Russaw ended two years ago in divorce and we’ve neither seen nor heard her talk about dating since that time. The few scenes she had on R&B Divas had her mostly dealing with the issues of the other cast members or her talking about her children.

Bethenny asked Faith if she was dating right now or if she was in a relationship and while she dodged answering that question, Faith did reveal that most of her friends call her “Granny” because she doesn’t like to go out and of course, that makes it harder to meet people for potential dating purposes.

Faith also added that she is extremely private about who she lets in her personal space, especially when it comes to relationships because she has children. When it comes to marriage, Faith is pretty much on the fence about it:

“I don’t know. There was a time when that was part of my big picture, growing old with someone. I wouldn’t say no but I’m certainly not looking for it. If it comes and God says ‘hey,’ I think I’ll feel that. But I don’t thin marriage means it’s a meaningful relationship.”

Check out a piece of Faith’s interview with Bethenny  about relationships below:

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No Money, Mo’ Problems: MC Hammer Sued By The IRS For Almost $800K!

December 8th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"MC Hammer pf"


So Mc Hammer looks to be having money troubles again and this time, the IRS is on his back over taxes from over 15 years ago.

According to TMZ, “Uncle Sam” has filed a lawsuit against Hammer (real name Stanley Burrell) for close to $800,000 in unpaid taxes.

If you can believe it, the lawsuit is based on his unpaid taxes from 1996 and 1997. If memory serves correctly, he’d already had huge financial problems years before the mid-90s, so to be that far in debt with the IRS shows that he still hadn’t really gotten it together.

According the documents leaked to TMZ, the IRS now wants every dollar Hammer makes in order to pay the $798, 033.48 bill.  We haven’t heard much from him over the last few years; for years, he’s been trying to make different web based projects work but none have seemingly been overly successful in recent times.

We’re not quite sure what he’ll do to pay the IRS back but make no mistake, they will get their money. Perhaps his team can talk to someone who produces celebrity reality shows and he can get on there to not only make a check, but also to become visible again. Hmmm, Dancing With the Stars, anyone?

So far, no comment from Hammer.

A Piece Of Lady O: Oprah’s Epic Yard Sale Rakes In More Than $600,000!

November 3rd, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Oprah Winfrey Interviews

Source: WENN

Well, were any of you able to buy anything from Oprah’s epic yard sale? If you tried and you didn’t get anything, don’t feel bad: the prices even shocked Oprah.

According to The Los Angeles Times, winning bids for Oprah’s former possessions sold for a total of more than $600,000. People were so excited to buy something that belonged top Oprah – the items came from her homes in Hawaii, California, and Indiana – that the prices for some of the simplest things were through the roof. TMZ noted that Oprah said during the auction, “You’re paying too much!”

While that may have been true, Oprah certainly didn’t ask them to start over with lower bids.  The Times reported the following winning bids on some items:

  • $60,000 for a set of six 18th century Louis XVI armchairs with hand-embroidered details
  • $4,100 and $6,000 for canvas banners promoting Oprah in The Color Purple
  • $3,000 for TV Guide cover
  • $1,400 for a dog portrait
  • $1,000 for a chair painted by a fan (estimated to be worth no more than $200)
  • $1,000 for a teapot (worth less than $100)
  • $4,000 and $4,750 for two sofas

If Oprah were doing this for herself, that would have been a nice bit of pocket change. But, the proceeds from Oprah’s epic yard sale will go to her all girls leadership academy in South Africa.

Congratulations to all the people who got a “piece of Oprah.” I mean, I guess (forgive me, no shade, I’m just surprised by some of these prices).

San Jose State University Crowns Its First Black Homecoming Queen And King

October 28th, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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From BlackVoices 

California’s oldest university just named its first black homecoming king and queen.

Seniors Daniel Harris-Lucas and Diana Busaka were crowned Thursday night at San Jose State University, beating out 22 other applicants who all submitted a nomination, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a resumé and newsclips about them.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Harris-Lucas told NBC Bay Area. “But it’s probably overdue. I’m glad to be part of history. But this probably should have happened years ago.”

SJSU first caught national attention at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, when two of its students, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, placed in the 200 meter race and raised their black-gloved fists in the iconic black pride salute. A statue of them stands on the SJSU campus today.

Read more at 

10-Year-Old Shot In The Buttocks And Parents Waited To Call For Help Because They Thought She Started Her Period

September 23rd, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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I’m sure I’m not the only person who grew up in a family where what you thought might be a serious pain or problem was met with a less than worried response such as, “Lay on your stomach.” However, the idea of a gunshot wound being mistaken for one having their menstrual cycle is on a whole other level. But that’s what happened to a 10-year-old in Hayward, Calif.

According to a local CBS affiliate, the young girl was sleeping in her bed when a stray bullet from a nearby shooting hit her in the buttocks. When she woke up early in the morning and complained of pelvic pain, she told her family, and her mother and sister initially thought that she might have started her period. According to her father, though the front of the house had some broken glass and there were stray bullet holes in their vehicle, they checked the children’s room and didn’t see any damage. Because of this, they assumed it was the beginning of her menstrual cycle. They took her to the bathroom, didn’t see the wound, and gave her a pad. She went back to sleep.

When she woke up for school and still complained of pain, the family wound up looking in her bed and found a bullet hole. According to the CBS affiliate, police say the wound was very small and it could have “easily” been overlooked if the parents thought she was having her period. The father (who didn’t want to be named) later spoke to reporters after the family called the ambulance and had the 10-year-old taken to the hospital. When asked why they waited to call, he said that they didn’t think she had been shot or that they needed to call police because in their gang-ridden neighborhood, sadly, hearing gunshots and damage from them is normal:

“We don’t call the cops when you hear shots on the streets. I didn’t know it was in front of my house and I didn’t know my daughter was shot.

I told them to check her and they said she was on her first period. She’s 10 years old.”

When neighbors were spoken to by the CBS affiliate, many of them, including a woman named Miriam said that she didn’t want to get involved and that people don’t usually call police after shootings or think much of them. But a local pastor, Chuck Horner of Calvary Baptist Church, said that’s exactly the problem when it comes to violence in the neighborhood.

“That’s why it happens. Nobody deals with it. And we need to stand up to this. Otherwise it’s only going to get worse.”

As for the 10-year-old girl, she is doing better and recovering after having surgery late last week. Thankfully, her injuries were “non-life threatening.”

Back To Court: Royce Reed Says Dwight Howard Has Taken Their Son…And She Doesn’t Know Where They Are

August 3rd, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Well, it was only a matter of time before these two were back in the media for more antics.

According to TMZ, former “Basketball Wife” Royce Reed has gone to what we assume is a Florida court to ask for an emergency hearing to find her son, Braylon.  Braylon is the son she shares with basketball star Dwight Howard. Royce claims Braylon went to California to visit Dwight but she hasn’t heard from them since he’s been there.

Royce also says Braylon has a medical condition and is out of medicine. According to her, Dwight hasn’t bothered to refill Braylon’s prescription.

In her alleged filing for this hearing, Royce says Dwight’s parents called her at some point to let her know Dwight and Braylon were in Colorado.  Royce is asking that the court order Dwight to refill the prescription so their son’s health won’t be in danger. Further, she wants to know exactly where their son and how she can get in touch with him.

See, this interesting because after a quick search, this popped up on Royce’s Twitter timeline:



Royce’s Twitter Page

So, how can it be that she’s saying she hasn’t heard from him since he got to California when she tweeted that he’d been there for a month and she, in fact, went to visit?  The only possible explanations are: (1) there’s no truth to this filing or (2) maybe the details are a little incorrect.

Many of us who’ve seen Royce on Basketball Wives know she can be a bit dramatic but I don’t think she’d be dumb enough to file a claim like this when there’s evidence on the internet to dispute it.  Not that Dwight couldn’t or shouldn’t refill the child’s medicine but if she was out there, she could have done it too.

A judge has yet to rule on whether or not a hearing is necessary.

Things that make you go hmmmm…

She Needs Help: Amanda Bynes Hospitalized After Setting Fire In Stranger’s Driveway

July 23rd, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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"Amanda Bynes pf"


I really want somebody to come get Amanda Bynes. And I’m not even trying to be funny. I want someone to come and give her the treatment she needs before it’s too late. While fellow child star Lindsay Lohan’s issues seem to be drug related, Amanda Bynes’ recent run ins with the law have me believing that she’s suffering from a mental issue. And apparently the Thousand Oaks, California police department agrees.

According to TMZ, Bynes was arrested this morning under a 5150 hold for setting a fire in her neighbor’s driveway. A 5150 hold is an involuntary hospitalization that allows authorities to evaluate Amanda’s mental state. They can hold her for a maximum of three days if necessary.

Law enforcement were called to Bynes’ neighbor’s house this morning when someone noticed a small fire in the driveway. Amanda was seen standing near the fire. When deputies arrived they asked Bynes what she was doing there and why. Based on her answers, they determined that she needed to be hospitalized.

The woman whose driveway Amanda set on fire says that she had no idea what was happening outside until police knocked on her door. The police asked her if she knew Bynes and the elderly woman said no. Police informed  the woman that Amanda was carrying a little red gas tank and had burned a part of the woman’s clothing in the process.

Hopefully, something good will come of this hospitalization.