By Betty Reid Soskin
The Story of Reid’s is the story of many of the
small black businesses that came into being
through the ambition and hard work of young
people all over the country at a time when
independence was the essential ingredient in
the making of a life.
Where Gospel Music is King
Reid's black family owned business
has served the Berkeley community
since 1945. We Specialize in
traditional, and also contemporary
gospel music, accompliment tracks
for singers, ticket sales to gospel
events, church supplies, books,
bibles, and we also manufacter
choir and pulpit robes. We also
carry graduation robes for
preschool, and high schools. You
are welcome to come in and take a
look at our store, and we also
provide phone orders through Fedex.
This is the story of one small African
American enterprise that struggled to
mixed reviews in the American
marketplace for over half a century.
This piece first appeared in December of
1989 in the East Bay Express as a lead
article written by staff columnist, Lee
Hildebran. Ran across it in my files while
searching for relevant material for this
website. I read through it after many years
that have been dramatically life changing
and found it still factual and powerfully “real.”
I would not change a word, nor do I regret
having lived every minute of it.
The second generation of ownership is now
fully in effect. The information age is in full
bloom. Mel died shortly after this story was
written and our oldest son Rick who grew up
behind the counter from the age of 3
months, has now passed on, in 1995. Our
youngest son, David Allen Reid, is the proud
To The Ones We Miss,
Delores Barrett Campbell (1926-2011)
Mr. Paul Reid was born In 1913 and raised on Sacramento street in south Berkeley.
He is know for "bringing god into the living room of thousands in the bay area" in the
early 1950's as a religious radio announcer.
The young Reid family experienced all of the tears and triumphs that have colored the lives of other ordinary black folks, with
the essential difference that the lows may have been the equivalent of those suffered by many others for reasons beyond their
control—while the highs tended to soar like the mighty eagle! We experienced the full range of human experience, and survived.
Mr. Reid began his celebrity career at
radio station KRE, with a program
entitled "Religious Gems" which was
started by his nephew, Melvin Reid.
Melvin Reid, founder of Reid's
Records on Sacramento street,enlisted
his uncle's assistance in order to run
both the radio show and the records
Mr. Reid moved from KRE To KDIA
and hosted a program that blossomed
from a once a week 30 minute program
to a daily hour long that aired for 11
years. He was a leader in bay area
Gospel singing competitions and held
a celebrity-status throughout the area.
When he died in 1964, his funeral was
held at the Oakland Auditorium to
accommodate the 7,000 plus mourners
who had come to pay their last
His affiliation with the radio industry attracted thousands to Reid's Records, which in still
in it's original location on Sacramento street in Berkeley. His memory is kept alive by his
seven children and numerous grandchildren.