By Antonio R. Harvey | Observer Staff Writer
The struggle for control of the California Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC) apparently has reached a mutually agreed upon conclusion.
CBCC President and CEO Jay King told The OBSERVER that the nonprofit’s differences with the California African American Chamber of Commerce’s (CAACC) President and CEO Edwin Lombard could soon be behind them.
“We were in mediation and we agreed to settle it,” King said of the two-year saga. “It hurt the community and it hurt the (CBCC) for a minute. So now it’s over with. We agreed to settle it and let that chamber continue to do what it does and (CBCC) will do what we do for the business community.”
Lombard said by phone that the matter is “still in the hands of the lawyers and papers still need to be signed” before the issue is officially over.
“We’ve settled our differences,” Lombard said. “But I cannot divulge any information until documents are signed.
The entities have been embroiled in a battle for control of the CBCC since founder Aubry Stone passed away in November 2018 at age 74. CBCC advocates for Black businesses and helps them achieve opportunities in California.
Founded in 1995, CBCC also operates radio station KDEE-FM 97.5 through the California Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Businessman and musical icon King, who founded the R&B group Club Nouveau, has led the CBCC since June 2019.
Lombard, who said Stone gave him permission to lead the organization before his passing, also had been operating as CBCC president as the court case proceeded.
After Stone’s death, former CBCC Vice President Delores Thompson and Lombard both claimed leadership of the CBCC. Thompson filed a lawsuit against Lombard.
The legal complaint also accuses Lombard of acquiring the chamber’s letterhead without authorization shortly after Stone’s passing. Additionally, the CBCC claims Lombard prepared a fraudulent letter and signed Stone’s name on it to deceive others.
Lombard responded in a letter to the CBCC deeming himself and his board of directors as the “true and legitimate” CBCC. In a written statement by attorney Timothy Alan Simon dated July 12, 2019, Lombard also accused the current brass of acting “without appropriate authority.”
By the end of 2020, Lombard began operating another organization, the CAACC.