East Bay

Descendants of Black Pioneer Businessman Keep Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Cotright family in the East Bay has embodied the term “entrepreneurial spirit” for generations, starting in 1954 when Otis Cotright started the first Black-owned business in Richmond’s downtown.

It was called Cotright’s Grocery Store, and what started as a small operation grew a thriving business that provided jobs for the community.

Fast-forward several generations, the store is no longer there but the Cotrights are still starting businesses and serving their community.

Shawntee Cotright and her sons have a family business called Four Brothers Moving Solutions, their work inspired by their great-uncle Otis.

“He was, to me, very powerful because I didn’t know anybody who looked like me who ran anything back then,” Shawntee said. “And I saw how he was actually affecting the community in a good way… So I saw how he took a small idea and grew it to be in the ecosystem where everyone was family… So that led me to be an entrepreneur.”

She said her goal in starting the moving company with her sons was to pass on all the lessons she learned from her great-uncle Otis, and to provide jobs for the community of Richmond.

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