African American Community Leaders Honored at BAPAC Celebration


The achievements of Richmond’s African American community were celebrated at the Black American Political Action Committee’s (BAPAC) annual George D. Carroll Community Service Awards Reception last Thursday. The event, now in its 8th year, was a unique moment to reflect on the progress of Richmond’s community.

Among the honorees were Pastor Alvin Bernstine, who serves as Senior Pastor of the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Bernstine thanked BAPAC for their work and for the opportunity to receive this award. “We all want the same thing,” Bernstine explained. “We want a world that is just, a world that is compassionate, and a world that is fair.”

Charles Evans, founder of CJ’s BBQ & Fish, was honored for his contribution to the city’s African American business community. Many in attendance hailed Evans for his culinary and economic achievements. 

“It’s time for African American youth to receive the help and support that they need to thrive,” said Gloria Scoggin upon receiving her award. Scoggin is the founder of BlackBoard, a community organization dedicated to the academic achievement of African American youth. 

Fellow awardee Florence VanHook also had a significant impact on the education of the city’s youth. Inspired by her work as legal secretary to West Contra Costa Unified School District, VanHook became an advocate for low-income parents and students to understand their rights in the education system. “[I’m] just fulfilling my purpose here on earth by always putting God first and seeking to help those in need,” said VanHook. 

Also honored was Executive Director of For Richmond Kyra Worthy. In her work at the non-profit organization, Worth has been instrumental in making strides to reduce the city’s high unemployment rate among African Americans as well as providing services for victims of domestic abuse. 

“BAPAC’s mission is to promote the maximum support and participation of African Americans in politics, in community, and in economics,” said BAPAC Treasurer Joe Fisher. “This event is about people who contribute to that — people who uplift the pride and purpose of Richmond.”

BAPAC’s event was inspired by the achievements of George D. Caroll, who was elected as Richmond’s first African American mayor in 1964. In holding this office, Carroll was also the first African American mayor of a major US city. Those celebrated at the reception stood as reminders of his work and the doors he opened for the city’s African American community. 

In his remarks, State Assembly member Tony Thurmond, who got his start in Richmond, thanked the legacy of George Carroll for paving the way for himself and many of his peers. 

“It has been 20 years since someone who lives in the city of Richmond has represented us in the State Assembly, and this is the first time an African American from Richmond has represented us,” he said. “George Carroll helped make this possible, and all that is before us today is, in some way, thanks to George.”

To learn more about the work of BAPAC, click here.

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