Downtown’s first Black-owned business, Cotright Grocery, was established in 1954 by Otis Cotright and Willie Mae Gilbert Cotright. Originally located at 5th and Barrett Avenue, the store later moved to 4th and Nevin Avenue and carried high quality fresh groceries, as well as canned goods and household items. Otis was a leader in the community, organizing an ‘unofficial’ Black Chamber of Commerce, establishing a network of Black businesses to support each other and the next generation of entrepreneurs, and serving as councilmember. Willie Mae was an active partner in running the grocery store and member of the NAACP, Richmond Chapter.
Want more Richmond Black History? Check out:
- Richmond Museum of History & Culture & SS Red Oak Victory
- Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park
- To Place our Deeds: The African American Community in Richmond, California, 1910-1963
- Rosie the Riveter World War II American Homefront Oral History Project: Willie Mae Cotright