Press Release: California Legislative Black Caucus Remembers the First Black Lawmaker

February 20, 2018

Sacramento - The California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), celebrated the first African American Legislator, the Honorable Frederick Roberts. This Black History Month, they recognized the 100th anniversary of Roberts remarkable 16 years of dedicated service in the California State Assembly.

CLBC Chairman, Assemblyman Chris Holden (AD 41) speaks to the accomplishments of Frederick Roberts as he passed laws to prohibit discriminatory practices commonly referred to as Jim Crow Laws in California. “Frederick Roberts was ahead of his time, a pioneer and advocate not only for African American rights, but human rights. His courageous leadership opened the doors for many African American lawmakers like me who stand in the Capitol today.”

Friday, California lawmakers were also joined by Frederick Roberts’ descendants: Ellen Wales Hodnett, David Warren Hodnett, Robin Johanna Roberts, Keith Elliot Lawrence, Karen Willard, Lena Simone Willard, Jamie Lee Roberts, Heather Ann Hiles, Deborah Veney, and Regina Jones. Ms. Hodnett, Hon. Roberts’s great niece, remembers the historic nature of her great uncle and the strength it took to be the first Black in California’s legislature. “My uncle was ahead of his time in race relations – he did not like the term Negro, but rather called him and other Blacks: American of African descent.”

The CLBC also recognized students from Willie Brown Middle School for winning first place in the Black Minds Matter competition at CSU-Fresno. This middle school team outshined 12 schools, including high school teams. The CLBC proudly presented the students with certificates for their academic excellence and leadership in an imitative to make their school healthier. Their findings report that after a student consumes unhealthy foods, they are more likely to behave poorly and receive discipline while at school.  The Willie Brown Middle School principal mentioned: “Students who eat junk food constantly, go to the bathroom more often, don't eat school food, and lack of nutrition.” The students also met their Assemblymember and Senator as well as CLBC members. Students of the award winning team, the “Culture Keepers” include: President Elijah Brown (8th grade), Vice President Am’Briana Daniels (8th grade), Secretary Eziyah Wilson (8th grade), Historian Monaee Angel-Short (8th grade), Member Jabarr Harvey (6th Grade), and Member Sincere Bryant (6th grade).