Raymon P. Dones, Sr. (Deceased)
Mr. Dones learned electrical and plumbing trades while working as a Pullman car porter in Denver, Colorado. After receiving his electrical contracting license, he established Dones Electric, which later became incorporated as Aladdin Electric in Oakland, California. Mr. Dones co-founded Transbay Engineering & Builders in 1968 and served for two decades as the company’s CEO. Under Mr. Dones’ leadership, Transbay consistently ranked among the top 100 Black-Owned Businesses in Black Enterprise Magazine. In 1999, Engineering New-Record (ENR) magazine named Dones one of the 125 most influential people in the construction industry in the magazine’s 125 year history.
Mr. Dones was also a founding member of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) and served as the organization’s first president. NAMC is a nonprofit trade association that was established in 1969 to address the concerns of minority contractors. Today the organization has chapters in 49 states, the Virgin Islands, England and South Africa. Ray Dones was instrumental in establishing Project Upgrade, one of the first construction trades apprenticeship training programs in the United States. As a contractor, Dones had a hand in building or subcontracting a large part of Oakland’s landscape, including the MORH and Acorn housing developments in West Oakland, the West Oakland Health Center, and the early construction of Oakland City Center.
Thomas L. Berkley (1915 – 2001)
Athlete, Lawyer, Publisher, Port Commissioner
Mr. Thomas L. Berkley was a gifted academic and a world-class track and field athlete. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from University of California at Los Angeles in 1938 and later attended Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley and the UC Hastings School of Law, graduating with a Doctoral degree in 1942. Having procured a law degree, Mr. Berkley quickly established himself as a champion of the rights of the underprivileged through his work as an attorney, and later as a successful entrepreneur. Shortly after the end of WWII, Mr. Berkley established the law firm Thomas Berkley & Associates (TB&A) firm in the United States. The firm was initially comprised of a core team of attorneys that included Terry Francois, Joseph Kennedy and Clifton White. Over the years, scores of talented attorneys gained invaluable experience under Mr. Berkley’s leadership and proceeded to have distinguished law careers around the world. In 1972, Mr. Berkley purchased a 35,000 square foot building in Oakland and moved his varied legal and business operations to the location at 630 20th Street.
Mr. Berkley served as founder, publisher and editor of the Post Newspaper Group. Being fluent in Spanish, the newspaper chain published El Mundo, the largest Spanish newspaper in California in addition to its five tri-weekly English newspapers. Mr. Berkley also co-founded the West Coast Black Publisher’s Association. A consummate entrepreneur, Mr. Berkley was active in the construction industry as a developer/builder of commercial and residential projects that included housing developments, shopping centers, and apartment complexes in the Northern and Central regions of California as well as Nevada. In 1955 he created a racially integrated 250-unit housing development in Las Vegas – aptly named Berkley Square.
Mr. Berkley served 11 years as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Oakland and two terms as its President. He was the nation’s first African-American to serve as a commissioner of a major Port. Mr. Berkley would play a pivotal role in converting the Port of Oakland to a container Port. His innovative leadership increased use of container cranes, helping to revolutionize the manner in which cargo is handled worldwide. In 2004, SUDA broke ground and developed the site in Downtown Oakland now known as Thomas L. Berkley Square. Thomas L. Berkeley Square is the current home of the North Alameda County Self Sufficiency Center; a vision and continuing legacy of Mr. Thomas L. Berkley.
Ida L. Jackson (1902 – 1996)