Posts by Melinda McCrary

The Richmond Museum Association welcomes a new Director!

At the annual membership meeting of the Richmond Museum Association (RMA) held on January 11, 2015, Ms. Lydia Stewart of Stewart’s Rose Manor Funeral Service was elected as the newest member of the RMA Board of Directors!

Ms. Stewart comes to the RMA with impressive credentials!! She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She has?performed graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and also at the University of San Francisco Law School. She has taught English to middle? and high school students for both West Contra Costa and Los?Angeles?Unified School Districts.? Also being?schooled in the Performing Arts, she has taught Drama and Dance?at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond, California.

Some of Ms. Stewart’s Honors and Awards are as follows:

  • 2001 “Woman of the Year” by the Business and Professional Woman’s Federation
  • 2002 “Young Funeral Director of the Year” by the California Funeral Directors Association
  • 2003 Honored for her contribution to African American Entrepreneurship by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • 2003 Honored by the Phylaxis Society for Bucks/Business in the four B’s Award Program
  • 2003 Honored as a “Woman of Distinction” by Soroptimist International
  • 2010 Honored by the Beta Pi Sigma Sorority as a “Woman of Valor” and recognized by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and City of Richmond
  • 2010 Awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for contributions to the community from Elisabeth Missionary Baptist Church at their “History Making Program”
  • 2010 Honored and recognized by the California Funeral Directors Association for significant contributions to the funeral industry
  • 2013 Received Honorable Judge George Carroll Community Service Award by the “Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC)
  • 2013 Certificate of Recognition from California Senate for Exemplary Work and Outstanding Dedication
  • 2013 Certificate of Recognition from California Legislature Assembly for Continued Commitment to Community
  • 2013 Certificate of Achievement from the US State Congressman for community service


Welcome to the RMA, Lydia!

Historic Film Festival lineup announced for Winter/Spring 2015!

Attention movie lovers!

The winter/spring 2015 lineup of the?wildly popular Historic Film Festival aboard the SS Red Oak Victory (ROV) has been announced! Please note the Film Festival will take place on Tuesday evenings rather than the usual Thursday evenings for the foreseeable future. All films begin at 7:00 pm.

January 20, 2015–The Heroes of Telemark (1965)

February 17, 2015–So Proudly We Hail! (1943)

March 17, 2015–Shining Through (1992)

April 14, 2015–Force of Arms (1951)

May 12,2015–The Josephine Baker Story (1991)

The ROV concession stand will be open during the Film Festival, so join us for a movie, popcorn, and hot chocolate!

*Updated January 15, 2015*

Veterans Day 2014 Recap!

The 2014 Veterans Day Celebration & Grand Re-Launch of the SS Red Oak Victory can only be described as a huge success! There was singing, local dignitaries, a fake broken campaign bottle, story time, great food, and great people!

The morning began with the JACs, a 40s style singing group, who welcomed guests to the Rigger’s Loft beginning at 10:30. The ceremony was opened at 11:00am by RMA Vice-President Jeff Wright, who welcomed all the guests and presided over the bell ringing to honor those who have passed over in 2014. The ceremony continued with George Miller’s aide Barbara Johnson presenting an American flag that flew over the Capital building in Washington DC on November 9, 2014 to mark the 70th anniversary of when construction began on the SS Red Oak Victory. Next, John Gioia offered his remarks and thanks to our country’s brave veterans.

RMA President John Ziesenhenne and George Miller Aide Barbara Johnson with American Flag  that flew over the US Capitol on 11/9/2014.
RMA President John Ziesenhenne and George Miller Aide Barbara Johnson with American Flag that flew over the US Capitol on 11/9/2014.

The RMA was so honored to have one-time crew member Robert (Bob) Di Chiara, Sr. join us from Singer Island, Florida as the highlight of the program! Bob began his career on the SS Red Oak Victory by washing pots and pans, however, he quickly decided to spend his free time on the Bridge as he was hoping to quickly be reassigned up there. He got his wish and finished his career on the ship as a 3rd class Signalman. We were honored to interview Bob at the Richmond Museum of History the day before the ceremony. You can view of clip of his interview on You Tube here (courtesy of Ms. Lana Husser). Bob spoke for about 10 minutes to an enthralled crowd and by the end of his recollections you could hear a pin drop in the room as everyone was on the edge of their seat listening to him. Bob’s stories about life aboard the ship were priceless and we are so happy he literally came across the County to share them.

Bob with sign and text
Robert Di Chiara, Sr. aboard the SS Red Oak Victory during World War II; he served aboard the ship from 1944-1946.

Many other Veteran’s oriented community organizations helped us mark the occasion as well including the Richmond Veterans Resource Center, Richmond Artist Lady Cali/Alexis Williams, Our Angels, Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park, Chevron Richmond Veterans Initiative, Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Richmond Community Foundation! Thank you to all of the community organizations that helped honor our local veterans!

Riggers Loft Veterans Day 2014
Richmond resident Lady Cali (Alexis Williams) displays her Veteran inspired art during the ceremony.

The ceremony in the Rigger’s Loft concluded with a re-enactment of the launch of the SS Red Oak Victory and the festivities were then shifted to the SS Red Oak Victory. Guests were given a carnation to throw over the side of the ship as a remembrance to those Veterans gave all to preserve our freedoms. Lunch was served and children’s story time took place after the conclusion of the ceremony.

We are very pleased the 2014 Veteran’s Day event was well covered in the local newspapers including Contra Costa Times, Radio Free Richmond, Richmond Confidential, and Richmond Standard.

Thanks to our sponsor (Chevron Richmond), all our community partners, the media, and our friends for joining us! See you next year!




What do you know about the Blues Clubs that used to exist in North Richmond?

The Richmond Museum of History staff is conducting research on the blues clubs that existed in North Richmond during the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately, the museum collection includes only scant about this fascinating and important time of Richmond history. So, we are asking members of our community to come forth with anecdotes, photographs, and artifacts/memorabilia related to the blues scene in Richmond.

blues club

Bill and Josephine Burrus eating a meal at the Brown Derby Night club and Caf?. Josephine is wearing the sailor suit, other two ladies are unidentified. Bill Burrus owned the Brown Derby Night Club and Caf? in North Richmond during the 1950s. Courtesy of Dr. Betty Burrus-Wright.

Don?t know much about North Richmond Blues Clubs? Check out this video in the Exploration of our History series by filmmaker Doug Harris:

Minnie Lou?s, Jazzland Records, Do Drop Inn, Fred?s Place, Brown Derby, Tapper?s Inn, and Club Savoy are just a few of the blues clubs we want to learn more about! If you have information about any of these businesses or other blues clubs in Richmond, please call museum staff at (510) 235-7387.

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