By Anna Wenger
Mark your calendar for this year's Booker T. Washington Brunch to be held, Friday, April 13, 2007 at 11:30 a.m. at the historic Mission Inn in Downtown Riverside. They keynote speaker for the event will be Gloria "Bonnie" Jackson, Booker T. Washington's great-granddaughter. For information on the brunch contact (951) 682-6070.
Jackson is the founder and President of the Booker T. Washington Inspirational Network Inc, (BTWIN) -"Building to win." She speaks on the common-sense themes that comprise the wisdom of Booker T. Washington: faith, freedom, personal responsibility, character development and excellence in education.
Jackson holds a law degree from UCLA and she is an attorney and a real estate broker. Gloria's book, co-authored with her cousin Sarah Rush, "Timeless Treasures-Reflections of God's Word in the Wisdom of Booker T. Washington" was released in April 2006. She will have a booksigning of this book at the event.
Booker T. Washington's first visit to the Inland Empire was in 1903 when he delivered the keynote address for the opening of Claremont College spoke at the Methodist Church in Ontario, and at California Teacher's Association Convention. Washington developed a strong friendship with Frank Miller, the then keeper of the "Glenwood Mission Inn."
At Miller's request, Washington returned in 1913 to visit. His travels took him to Northern California and according to, Dr. Rudolph Lapp, a noted historian, "he impressed everyone to whom he spoke." He returned to Tuskegee and did not return to California again until March 1914. Research shows that he returned with the Congregational Churches speaking in Riverside, Redlands, and at Second Baptist, one of the oldest Black churches in Riverside, and the music room at the Mission Inn. When he returned home, he passed away and the residents of Riverside and Redlands held memorial services that were well attended.
While Booker T. Washington was in Riverside he spoke to Whites and Blacks in mass. One of the newspaper articles says "he spoke to 500 Colored folks." He spoke to them about the importance of the accumulation of property and of doing their work so well that they will become indispensable. The purpose of his travels was to raise money for the Tuskegee Institute which he founded.
In 2002, National Park Services, The Black Voice News and the Black Voice News Foundation organized a symposium to commemorate Booker T. Washington's visits and connection to Riverside, California's history. A bust in Washington's likeness was created by Bernard Edmonds', a local artist. The statue was erected and unveiled in 2004 and strategically placed in a premier area in front of the now Historic Mission Inn Hotel by Duane Roberts, the now "Keeper of the Inn."