Remembering Black Excellence

Remembering Black Excellence

Cicely Tyson (December 1924 – January 2021)

Today, I woke up to the news that actress and model Cicely Tyson, one of 25 women Black women honored for their contributions to art, entertainment, and civil rights has passed at age 96. Cicely Tyson set the highest example for herself, and was commonly associated with the portrayal of strong, African-American women. She has taught African-American women across the country about the importance of embracing natural beauty. As a professional model and public figure, she showed up for interviews with her natural hair, something that was rarely to never done on live television at the time. Cicely Tyson was not afraid to express her true self to the world, and that is something that has inspired the way I carry myself. I will never be apologetic for being myself, and that is a quality she carried with grace. Cicely and many others have had a profound impact on my view on life, and it is important to acknowledge those who we have lost in the past year. 2020 was a difficult year for everyone, and those we lost have paved the way for the black community, and should not be forgotten. She will be dearly missed.

This past year, we have lost major pillars of the black community. These figures have paved the way for upcoming actors, performers, and athletes. This past August, we lost actor Chadwick Boseman, whose death posed a major shock to everyone. He brought enormous amounts of strength and dignity to the role of “Black Panther”, a profound film that inspires us as a black community. In the movie, he depicts a world leader, delivering a strong message to the black community that black is beautiful and powerful. He also portrayed the famous baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42, a film that helped me to reinforce the idea upon myself that I can achieve anything regardless of the challenges I may face along the way. Tommy Lister, known as “Deebo” in the TV comedy Fridays marks another hard loss faced last year. His role in television has been a staple in many childhood memories. The laughs and smiles he provided will always stick with me when I think of his life. 

(Left) Chadwick Boseman , November 1976 – August 2020
(Right) Tom Lister Jr., June 1958 – December 2020

While these losses have been difficult for us all, their life and legacy has paved the way for new, upcoming generations of talent. Names such as Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, and John David Washington are just some of the names of black actors who will carry the torch in 2020s. These young and upcoming actors are putting use to their platform to make a change for the better in the black community. I feel inspired by such a young group making a tremendous difference, and I think it shows us that we all can make a change regardless of what we think our place in society might look like. 

(Left) Kevin Robinson, October 1964 –
November 2020
(Right) Arnie Robinson, April 1948 – December 2020

With those lost in 2020, some of these figures have come from the San Diego community, and leave their mark on the place we call home. Of these includes Arnie Robinson, a world renowned olympic athlete and a top-ranked long jumper. He showed me what it means to give back to your community, returning to San Diego after the end of his Olympic career to coach athletes in the area. Kevin Robinson is another San Diego native lost in 2020. He was responsible for many development projects in the community, uplifting the area through his work. Kevin showed what it meant to be a good father, an amazing husband, and serve as a role model for me and the way I treat others. Prevalent Black Figures in the entertainment and sports industry have created a culture full of empowerment, inspiration, and have successfully impacted communities all over the nation. 

A Closer Look

As the past year has been challenging for many, it is important to remember those who we have lost. The CSDBCC is working to recognize prevalent black San Diegan that we have lost during this past year. These figures represent pillars in the community, defining San Diego as a whole. 

Arnie Robinson

Born in San Diego 1948 Arnie Robinson was a world renowned olympic athlete and a top-ranked long jumper. As a San Diego native, Arnie Robinson provided for his community, as an athlete at San Diego State University and later coaching at Mesa Community College. During his career in track and field, he won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics and Montreal, and continued on to win a bronze medal at the Munich Olympics in 1972. As a lifelong San Diego Resident, Arnie Robinson served as a community role model and inspiration up until his death resulting from Covid-19 complications in 2020. His son Paul confirmed his death on December 1, where he died at his home in San Diego at 72 years old. 

Kevin Robinson

Born in 1964, Kevin and his family relocated to San Diego from Chicago when he was only three years old. Growing up, he attended Santa Sophia Academy and Marian High School where he became well versed in the sports of football and baseball. He excelled in these sports, continuing his career at USIU. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and signed to play professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals. His athletic career however, was cut short by an injury. His career led him to become a broker in family real estate, where he managed and developed several projects in San Diego. Kevin was a beloved member of the San Diego community, showing what it means to be a good husband and father. At the age of 56, Kevin was laid to rest on November 11, 2020, surrounded by family and friends. 

MLK Business Clinic Recap

MLK Business Clinic Recap

We had an amazing opening panel for the MLK Business Clinic!

The Chamber, in partnership with Access 2 Jobs, Asian Business Association, San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and other community orgs, celebrated this MLK Day and National Day of Service with a successful community business clinic attended by over eighty people. This was a great event where attendees were able to gain useful insight on how to grow their business in the new year, and network with others while doing so. The day began with a virtual breakfast panel that discussed strategies on how to accomplish diversity in the workplace, and had open discussion on challenges to doing so. Later, the event offered a series of workshops followed by a one-on-one speed networking session that allowed attendees the opportunity to connect with others for future collaboration. 

In addition to our partners, the event could not have taken place without the help of the Chamber team; Community Manager Danielle Stephen, Administration Manager Tekly Berhe, Outreach Coordinator Mckenna O’Neill, and Communications Manager L.J. Maull. Elizabeth Cotton, Executive Director of the Chamber, remarked that the event, “Was an excellent start to the new year and a perfect way to honor the late Dr. King’s legacy. I thank all of our partners and the wonderful team at the Chamber for putting this together.”

San Diego Based Black Founders in the Life Science Industry

Covid 19 - Relief for Black Business Owners


The San Diego region is one of the top locations in the world for the life science industry. The industry serves as a major economic driver in San Diego, totaling $33.6 billion in economic impact. This field of work is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs, employing more than 360,000 individuals in 2016. The San Diego area is home to over 1,225 life sciences companies and more than 80 independent and university-affiliated research facilities in the San Diego area. With endless opportunities and growth, Black employees make up 4% of the industry. Black Executives and Board members make up only 1% of the industry.

A current initiative of the Chamber is fostering more equity and inclusion as well as opportunities for Black professionals and entrepreneurs to succeed in this space. On December 8th, the Chamber sponsored a seed pitch competition hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers. The winning company NewGait took home $2500 in cash, prizes, and complimentary services. The NewGait a medical rehabilitation device, and is responsible for treating individuals with gait abnormalities. It is intended for physical therapy uses, and has transformed the lives of many patients. The product was conceptualized by San Diego resident, Benga Adeeko, in 2014, with original intentions of the product being used for athlete training purposes. After being developed for years, the NewGait came to light in 2016 after physical therapist Kim Spranger saw what benefits this device could bring to her patients. The NewGait technology pivots this field of medicine to being both effective and affordable, costing thousands of dollars less than leading treatments for these conditions.

After winning the competition, Benga Adeeko shared in an interview, “… we need more Black founders to start companies in the life science and biotech industry. There is a big opportunity to not only build wealth but also make an impact in the healthcare industry.

Other Black owned Life Science companies that are making great strides in San Diego include, Roswell Biotechnologies, the pioneer in the development of a molecular electronics platform for DNA sequencing. Led by founder, Paul Mola, recently announced that it is a member of a team led by Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) that has been awarded a US government contract worth up to $25 million to develop a sequencing technology capable of reading data stored in DNA.

California Relief Grant – Assistance Events

California Relief Grant – Assistance Events

COVID SB Relief Grant

As a partner of the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network, we are here to help make sure you can complete your application for the California Relief Grant. There are recorded webinars and live webinars, available in English, Spanish, and other languages too. Visit [] to learn more and to sign up for a live or recorded webinar!


These are all the webinars that are coming up, including recorded webinars as well.


English, Live – Jan 4 at 1 pm []

Arabic, Live – Jan 5 at 10 am []

Spanish, Live – Jan 5 at 11 am []

Spanish, Live – Jan 5 at 1 pm []

Swahili, Live – Jan 5 at 3 pm []

English, Live – Jan 6 at 1 pm []

Spanish, Live – Jan 7 at 1 pm []


We also have recorded webinars (on-demand)

English, on demand []

Spanish, on demand []

Arabic, on demand []

Also, as a specialty, we have with the San Diego Foundation, have California Relief Grant for Nonprofits [] on January 5 at 11 am.


If you would like more information on any of the individual events, please go to our calendar.

Mayor Faulconer’s ‘Streateries’ and ‘Streetail’ Wins Council Approval

Mayor Faulconer’s ‘Streateries’ and ‘Streetail’ Wins Council Approval


SAN DIEGO – Continuing to deliver relief to San Diego restaurants and retail businesses impacted by COVID-19, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer won unanimous City Council approval Tuesday to expand outdoor dining and retail options for local businesses as they recovery amid a global pandemic.

The vote follows Mayor Faulconer’s July 7 Executive Order which waived permitting and parking requirements for the temporary use of sidewalks and private parking lots as outdoor dining and retail venues to increase space for physical distancing by patrons and employees. This vote not only cements protocols enacted under the Executive Order but also allows businesses to utilize adjacent on-street parking to operate while also waiving a majority of permitting fees, allowing businesses to transition faster and recover sooner.

“Our local restaurant and retail owners have shown incredible resolve and resilience throughout this pandemic. Many of those small businesses have been among the hardest hit and San Diegans are ready to support them safely and responsibly,” Mayor Faulconer said. “The response we’ve seen to outdoor dining has been overwhelmingly positive, and this ordinance opens up so many more options for our small businesses as they work hard to rebound and recover.”

Recent state directives have further limited indoor activities, placing additional burdens on businesses that have already made significant investments to follow reopening health requirements, including staff training and additional protective equipment. This directive is expected to affect up to 4,000 restaurants in San Diego, which employ more than 55,000 individuals in the City.

The ordinance will encourage eateries and retail to recover lost revenue by transforming into “streateries” and “streetail” by allowing businesses to expand onto on-street parking spaces, sidewalks and parking lots. There is no Development Services Department application or fee for a business to expand operations into a private parking lot.

Previously, securing an outdoor Sidewalk Café permit could cost businesses more than $1,000 and take several months to process. This ordinance will help reduce applicant costs and streamline the review process to deliver relief faster, expediting San Diego’s economic recovery while prioritizing San Diegans’ health.

“Small businesses account for 98 percent of San Diego companies. Needless to say, the impact COVID-19 is having on our small, independent, and family-owned businesses is monumental. Outdoor dining gives businesses a fighting chance to make it another day, and I applaud Mayor Faulconer for his innovative efforts,” said City Councilmember Chris Cate, Chair of the Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.


Additionally, Mayor Faulconer’s ordinance allocates $300,000 to further assist businesses by absorbing permitting costs for the first 500 businesses that apply with remaining applicants paying significantly reduced fees. Part of the funding allocation is specifically for outreach and education on the program for small and disadvantaged businesses to help them successfully participate in this temporary program.

The City will enter into a nonprofit agreement with the Strategic Alliance of San Diego Ethnic Chambers of Commerce – a team comprised of the Asian Business Association of San Diego, the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, and the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – to provide informational materials in multiple languages, target hard-to-reach communities and disadvantaged businesses, and coordinate the distribution of information with community partners.


“The Strategic Alliance of Ethnic Chambers of Commerce is proud to support Mayor Faulconer’s expansion of outdoor dining,” said Donna DeBerry, who represents the Strategic Alliance of Ethnic Chambers of Commerce. “Working together to support communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 will help restaurants in these communities recover and continue to contribute to this vibrant economic and cultural landscape in San Diego.”


Upon implementation the Mayor’s ordinance will:

  • Allow outdoor business operations for dining and retail in parking lots, on-street parking spaces, and sidewalks as well as neighboring business frontage with written permission of neighboring business owner
    • Waive parking requirements so businesses can make use of private parking lots to place dining furniture and displays, among other retail operations
    • Streamline and cut red tape for sidewalk cafés
    • Allow “Pedestrian Plazas” to take over on-street parking for expanded outdoor dining and retail
    • Allow business improvement districts to issue Sidewalk Café permits for an expanded area of the sidewalk
  • Waive special event permit fees to allow nonprofit applicants to close streets and conduct business outdoors faster and cheaper
    • Waive special event application processing fees, late fees, and fire inspection fees for street closures
    • Retroactive fee waivers for applicants that were previously approved for an outdoor dining special event permit after May 1, 2020
  • Broaden allowances and reduce required permit for temporary signs so that small businesses can place banners, A-frame signage in the right of way, public health reminders, and other informational signs outdoors on sidewalks while maintaining ADA access
  • Allow for expanded wholesale distribution of food, beverages, and groceries directly to consumers while allowing for social distancing
  • Preserve mobility, safety and emergency access for pedestrians, and preserve requirements that ADA access and path of travel be maintained at all times
  • Require full compliance with all State and County Health Orders and guidance

More information on outdoor dining and retail requirements and how to apply for a permit can be found on the Development Services Department website.