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Part II: San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame, 1976 to 1978

Part I outlined the beginnings of the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame, co-sponsored by Kutania People and The Sportsmen Athletic Club, Inc. The joint venture honored outstanding athletes who got their start at high schools and secondary schools in the San Bernardino area, and raised scholarship funds for college-bound athletes.

1976: Profiles in Greatness

1976 Black Athletes Hall of Fame commemorative program front cover.

Held on Saturday February 28, 1975, the Fourth Annual San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame affair capped off a series of Black History Week activities, including a 5-day Community Carnival and annual Art Festival (both sponsored by Kutania People), and the Black History Week Parade (helmed by the San Bernardino Black History Committee).

Legendary boxing promoter Don King was that year’s Keynote Speaker. King rose to fame in the early 70s, having brought boxing fans arguably two of the greatest heavyweight boxing championships in history – the Muhammad Ali vs. George Forman “Rumble in the Jungle” bout (October 30, 1974), and the Ali vs. Joe Frazier “Thrilla in Manilla” match-up (October 1, 1975).

1976 Black Athletes Hall of Fame commemorative program back cover.

Joseph Dyer (1934-2011), 1976 Hall of Fame Emcee. Dyer was one of the first African American reporters to be hired by a major Los Angeles broadcaster. He became Director of Community Relations for CBS affiliate KNXT and was known for his civic and charitable contributions to the community. Dyer was an early advocate of the Black Athletes Hall of Fame and saw it as a unique activity. Dyer facilitated access to sports figures which made the Hall of Fame experience all-the-more enjoyable for attendees. [Photo image retrieved from the 1976 Black Athletes Hall of Fame commemorative program, page 6.]

Stage and screen actress Rosalind Miles, 1976 Co-Emcee. Miles was active in Southern California community affairs. [Image retrieved from the 1976 Black Athletes Hall of Fame commemorative program, page 7.]

1976 Hall of Fame inductees were:

  • Art Lee Davis, Pacific H.S., basketball and football. Davis also attended New Mexico State University.
  • Charles Reed, San Bernardino H.S. and San Bernardino Valley College, basketball.
  • Don Ray Sampson, San Bernardino H.S. and San Bernardino Valley College, football. Sampson played for the Canadian Football League (Montreal Alouettes).

Gary Ellison (San Gorgonio H.S.) won the Tom Hester Memorial Award for the 1974-1975 school year. Ellison attended Sacramento State University and Howard University Law School, and was interim Executive Director of the San Bernardino Boys and Girls Club.

1977: Heritage in Black

Left: 1977 Black Athletes Hall of Fame commemorative program, front cover.

The Fifth Annual San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame dinner and dance was held at the San Bernardino Convention Center on Saturday February 19, 1977.  Larry McCormick (1933-2004), radio and television reporter and news anchor, was Emcee. McCormick’s co-Emcee was television actress Ja’net DuBois, best known for her portrayal as Willona Woods on the 70s sitcom Good Times. Stage and screen actor Roger E. Moseley also participated in the event, just on the heels of his role as Sonny Liston in the Muhammad Ali biopic, “I’m the Greatest.”

Larry McCormac (1933-2004), television and radio personality, reporter, news anchor, acted as Emcee for the event. [Image retrieved from the 1977 Black Athletes Hall of Fame commemorative program, page 7.]

Actress and singer Ja’net DuBois was co-Emcee. [Image retrieved from the 1977 Black Athletes Hall of Fame commemorative program, page 9.]

Actor Roger E. Moseley, Hall of Fame Awards presenter. [Image retrieved from the 1977 Black Athletes Hall of Fame commemorative program, page 5.]

1977 Hall of Fame inductees were:

  • Charles DeMorst, Jr., San Bernardino H.S., San Bernardino Valley College, basketball. Also, attended Northern Colorado State.
  • George Taylor III, Pacific H.S., San Bernardino Valley College, wrestling.
  • Kenneth Wharry, San Bernardino H.S., San Bernardino Valley College, football.
  • John Dudley White, Pacific H.S., San Bernardino Valley College. White was a chef and restaurant owner. Deceased.

Rodney Soward (San Bernardino H.S.) won the Tom Hester Memorial Award for the 1975-1976 school year. Soward attended Cal Poly Pomona.

1978: Sixth Annual Hall of Fame

Headline from the Precinct Reporter, Jan. 13, 1978.

As interest in this local event grew, more celebrities began attending the Hall of Fame dinner and dance. Actress Ja’net Dubois made a repeat appearance as did Heavyweight Champion Ken Norton (for a third time). Screen actress and television personality Jayne Kennedy also participated in the event. Kennedy was the first Black woman to win Miss Ohio in 1970, and was a top 12 semi-finalist in the 1970 Miss Universe pageant.  Kennedy was also one of the first female sportscasters, appearing on NBC’s NFL Today from 1978 to 1979. Star athletes in attendance included Lawrence McCutcheon and Ron Jessie, both of the Los Angeles Rams, as well as New England Patriot and Hester Award winner Robert “Bob” Howard (1944-2008), and local collegiate athletes Eddie Catoe and Bobby Hosea.

Screen personality Jayne Kennedy mixes with attendees of the 1978 Black Athletes Hall of Fame, San Bernardino. [Image retrieved from a 1978 photo album on loan from Marvin Williams, 2016.]

Heavyweight boxing champ Ken Norton (1943-2013) mingles with the ladies at the 1978 Black Athletes Hall of Fame, San Bernardino. [Image retrieved from a 1978 photo album on loan from Marvin Williams, 2016.]

1978 Hall of Fame inductees were:

  • John R. Cain, San Bernardino H.S., San Bernardino Valley College, football, track. Also, Cal Poly Pomona, NCAA College Division Track All American, 1971. In addition, Cain received the Tom Hester Memorial Award for 1967.
  • George Greenwood, San Bernardino H.S., San Bernardino Valley College, football, track and field. Set National Junior College record in 120 yards high hurdles (13.9).
  • Alex Johnson, San Bernardino H.S., Foothill College.
  • Lloyd Brent Walker, D.D.S., San Bernardino H.S., San Bernardino Valley College. Also, UC San Francisco (D.D.S.), pediatric dentistry.
  • Ray Williams, Pacific H.S., San Bernardino Valley College, football, wrestling.

Ronald “Ronnie” Mandel Lott (Eisenhower H.S., Rialto, Calif.) won the Tom Hester Memorial Award for the 1976-1977 school year. Lott would go on to play for USC and was drafted into the NFL in 1981. Lott successfully segued into the business world after retiring from pro football in the mid-1990s.

*All photos, clippings and ephemera appearing in this blog post were selected from the Wilmer Amina Carter Collection unless otherwise noted.

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