Black Men in America … A Course in Survival and Miracles

African American news from Pasadena - Editorial - Black role models - John Kennedy - Rodney D. WallaceThis week in America, Black men demonstrated their ability to survive and achieve again, in spite of the odds. At the national level, the world watched as America’s Black President demonstrated that he was large and in charge of the most prosperous country in the world – The United States. At the local level, I am just as impressed with Black male success and the comings and goings of two local role models. John Kennedy and Rodney D. Wallace. These two local men fit in the category of new beginnings. This is true even though one reached a milestone of retiring. His final words at his retirement party were, “I’m going to wait and see what God has in store.” Here’s my take on these two local men. They serve as reminders that surviving and thriving in America for Black men is an achievable course in miracles.


John Kennedy is the winner of the most watched city council race in Pasadena, California, last week. The District, known as District Three, may mark the first time three Black men ran for a seat to represent a constituency in Pasadena’s history. The District is far from being just a Black District. It stretches throughout one of the largest and most prosperous and influential business areas of this city, known as the City of Roses.

Pasadena District Three councilman elect John Kennedy, in a recent interview with The Journal, says he is proud to represent the third District. He says that it is now time to come together and start tackling the serious issues that affect the district. He lists housing, safety, economic development, jobs, governmental accountability and removal of unnecessary governmental policies as the most pressing issues to be faced.

His primary concern is in lifting up the community, collectively. He looks forward to beginning to work with his fellow council representatives and the community to solve the problems and improve the quality of life in District Three and the overall city.

He sees a positive future for Pasadena and says that even though there are differing views on issues in the city, “What binds us together is stronger than that which separates us.”

His goal is to reach out to all the voters no matter which candidate they voted for. He believes that coming together, and binding together, is the recipe for winning as a community.

John is an example of a hometown boy made good. In a sense, he has come home to use his talent and give back to his community what he has gained in knowledge and experience over the past years.

He has been a corporate executive for a utilities company who made sure that the corporation contributed to the growth and welfare of the community. He is a former Pasadena NAACP President and made history as the youngest president in that organization’s history. He currently serves as an Executive for the Los Angeles Branch of the National Urban League, and now as council member elect for the great third district of Pasadena.

Kennedy’s list of endorsers, published in the February 28, 2013 of this paper was impressive. The list tells a story of his appeal to the broad diverse constituency of Pasadena movers and shakers as well as the, proverbial, common man. Businessmen and women, educators, preachers and leaders of every stripe serve as predictors of success in moving Pasadena’s third district toward social and economic progress.

The Journal wishes him well. The other two candidates whose love for the community led them to run to represent the third district also contributed to the growth and progress of District Three. They will, hopefully, be there to serve as advisors to Kennedy and contributors for the continued progress of the city. They are needed and still part of the village, and it will take all of us in to promote and achieve the progress Pasadena deserves.


Rodney D. Wallace made history this week. He retired after thirty-four years on the Pasadena Police Force. The Lieutenant with the charming, but “shy”, personality was the guest of honor at his retirement party held at the Pasadena Convention Center and attended by the who’s who of Pasadena.

The crowd turned the praise into a semi roast. Local restaurateur, Robin Salzar, said that Rodney “didn’t know how to sit down after his turn at the Friday night karaoke where Rodney sang and threatened those who would take the microphone from him.” Fellow officer and former partner told the crowd that “there were people who weren’t there because the price was more than they were willing to spend on Rodney, and others e-mailed because they didn’t want to spend the 49 cents for the stamp.”

After all was said and done it was a love fest for the Officer with the big, beautiful smile and endearing personality. Members of his church (First AME Pasadena) showed up in large numbers to praise Wallace for his work with the choir, the youth, and the men of the church. Members of the National Black Police Officers organization (NOBEL) showed up to praise their former President and leader.

Wallace’s son charmed the crowd telling them about his father’s age. He reminded them that, among other things, “he was old enough to have hung out with Moses and taught George Washington how to tie his shoes.” Pasadena Police Chief, Phillip Sanchez, said that Rodney would be missed for his leadership in the department and presented him with badges from his past.

Rodney is a special guy who rose from the influence of the ghetto of Los Angeles’ Nickerson Gardens to become a great Pasadena Officer, influencing his adopted home of Pasadena. You may miss Rodney on the street, but you can find him at First AME church singing in the choir, or doing whatever he believes God has in store for him.

From The Journal, Rodney Be Blessed!