SANTA ANA, Calif. — According to Census Bureau data a growing number of Americans are living to age 100. And the state with the most centenarians is California. At least one of them lives in Orange County and at 106-years-old, he happens to be the oldest black person in the OC.
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Warren Bussey was born in 1913 in Texas. He has lived in his home in Santa Ana since 1972. His home is full of history.
And so is his garage.
Parked inside is one of his most prized possessions, a 1930 Ford Model A.
It’s what he says he drove during Santa Ana’s first black history parade in 1957, a parade he says he took part in for several decades.
Bussey has been part of several other firsts.
In the late 1950’s he helped start what remains one of the only majority black freemasons chapters in Orange County. Also in the 1950’s Bussey became the first black business person in Orange County to take out a full page advertisement in a local newspaper.
At the time Bussey and his late wife had opened up Jimmy’s Cafe in Santa Ana featuring his favorite type of food.
“Soul food. That’s what keeps me going,” he said.
He also owned a shoe shine stand and an upholstery shop. Before that he started a janitorial business in the late 1940’s during a time when he says he had to enter some of his white client’s home through the back door.
He also served in the military during World War II when the military segregated soldiers by the color of their skin.
Bussey says, “This country has really changed.”
Changes he says he’s been thrilled to witness.
“Hoping that we’ll have another black president,” Bussey said.
He’s also seen changes that he says he’s less than thrilled about – especially with the younger generations.
“They do a lot of talk, and that’s all,” Bussey said.
He says they don’t walk the walk.
“I would like to see more blacks buying homes, open up businesses. But it doesn’t’ look too good,” he added.
He says you have to work for what you want like he did.
“Hope that my people will wake up,” said Bussey.
He says he’ll be here in his rocking chair praying for positive things for the future. Things he can celebrate at his 107th birthday on November 21, 2020.