Last Updated on March 6, 2008 by Paulette Brown-Hinds
On the Sunday afternoon of March 2, 2008, the Riverside African American Historical Society, Inc. (RAAHS) held its 10th Annual Pacesetters/Unsung Hero’s reception. The well-attended event acknowledges and recognizes those who have made significant contributions and had positive impacts on the lives of those in their communities. Honorees are nominated by the community and selected by a panel of jurors from RAAHS. This year’s honorees are: Zelma Jane Ballard, Leon Carrigan, Clarence C. Mackey, Ralph Rivers and Belinda Taylor. Each unsung hero received the prestigious “LOVE YOU” trophy, which symbolizes the sentiments of RAAHS as it continues to pursue the acknowledgement and documentation of African American contributions in the Inland Empire.
Zelma Ballard, first African American woman to graduate from UCR, was recognized for her dedication and volunteerism to the community, most notably for the reorganization of the Sickle Cell Organization, which has served as the catalyst to incorporate other diseases that plague the community, such as HIV. She is a member of the Metropolitan Museum Associates, NAACP, Life member of the UCR Alumni Board of Directors and many others.
Leon Carrigan is a pioneer in the insurance industry in San Bernardino, Redlands and Riverside. He trained many of the early agents in this area and was the first African American to start his own insurance agency in the Inland Empire. His volunteering activities included Redlands Boys Club and the American Cancer Society.
Clarence C. Mackey, widely known as Coach Mackey, is a community advocate and youth mentor. He was coach and recreation director at Jordan High School in Los Angeles for forty-one years. He founded the Watts Summer Junior Olympics in 1972. The Mackey family owned a produce farm on Rubidoux Blvd. for 52 years where he was able to donate contributions of produce to the Rubidoux High Booster Club.
Ralph Rivers, a self-motivated community advocate and kind humanitarian has a passion for talking to people. He is very active in his church and as an ordained minister, is Pastor of Christian Education. Among the many positions he holds and has held are: President, Eleanor Jean Grier Leadership Academy Alumni Association founding member; and 2nd president of the Inland Empire African American Chamber of Commerce.
Belinda Taylor’s career path took her into law enforcement for twenty-four years with the Los Angeles and Riverside County Sheriff’s departments. She is a dedicated and hardworking individual and spends countless hours volunteering with the Inland Valley Hospice. She has volunteered as a Court Ordered Supervised Visitation Monitor for over 11 years and has held membership and offices in numerous organizations including Martin Luther King H.S. Theater Booster Club and American Cancer Society Volunteer.
In his brief remarks, Mayor Ron Loveridge stated that this event was about stories…stories about the significance of the presence of African Americans in the Inland Empire. Dr. Alan Pauw, as he reflected on others who have received this award referenced “The Black Church in Riverside” (Black Voice News, Feb. 21, 2008) and further stated that these are the types of things RAAHS aims to record, document and perpetuate.
Videotaped DVD’s of this historic event are available by calling (951) 784-7125 or (951) 682 5062.