On Friday, folks from L.A to Louisiana will say goodbye to Harold Hambrick, President of the Los Angeles Black Business Expo (LABBX). He is a hard act to follow.
My “brother from another mother,” Harold and I were born on the same day, in the same hospital in New Orleans, but different years. We often celebrated our joint birthdays, played golf together, did business together and supported each other’s dreams. He was a real stand-up guy, who always wanted the best for everyone.
A longtime friend and supporter of Inglewood Today, Harold was instrumental in driving new advertisers to our publication, through his vast network of entrepreneurs. The annual Expo edition was among one of the most well-read.
Beside the myriad of enterprising businesses and activities, the Expo brought Black Los Angeles together in a way that few events could. It was exciting capturing those moments and recording history. During the long and successful run of the LABBX, you could find the Inglewood Today staff among the many proud exhibitors on the L.A. Convention Center floor.
At one time, the Expo boasted as many as 100,000 visitors in one weekend! But as impressive as that is, Harold never forgot where he came from. In fact, one of his many achievements was bringing our New Orleans heritage to Los Angeles. Reasoning that our culture was too good to be tied to Louisiana only, he was one of the original founders of LALA (Louisiana to Los Angeles Organizing Committee Inc.) in 1988.
Harold also served as the Master of Ceremony for the annual Mardi Gras Scholarship Ball. In 2005, he was selected as the LALA King, all decked out in Mardi Gras attire.
Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, it seems Harold always had his hands in something. And most everything he did had a positive impact on the community. Beside his phenomenal work as President of the LABBX, Harold had a successful career as a health care executive and advocate.
Harold’s love for the community moved him from a corporate position with IBM to what later became Watts Health Systems (WHS). He was on a mission to bring quality healthcare to underserved communities…and he did! He also founded the Watts Coffee House which was a training ground for many young chefs in South Central Los Angeles.
I am going to miss my friend, Harold, especially on my birthday, Feb. 17th. It’s not often that you meet someone born on your own birthday. And even rarer, that you will ever meet someone like Harold Hambrick.