One of the giants of the Pasadena community, Fred Valentine, has passed. Fred Valentine was 98 years old. The Valentine family has served Pasadena area for over 80 years. The Woods Valentine Mortuary is run today by Valentine’s daughters, Gail and Janice. Fred was a gentle giant who with his wife, Arzella, ran the Mortuary while serving the Pasadena community in a number of ways.
Other family businesses in our area include, but are not limited to: Shakoor Realty, Westlyn Realty, Pampered Lady Florist, and The Pasadena Journal, founded and run by Ruthie and Joe Hopkins, for nearly thirty years. These family businesses help the stability of Pasadena and their families. They provide role models for the couples in the community going into or operating their own business, as well as jobs for our youth.
When these businesses are utilized, they provide jobs for the community and, ultimately, a thriving community. Show me a business that advertises and I will show you a thriving business. Businesses that go out of business are businesses that don’t advertise. These facts are especially true of small so-called “Mom and Pop” businesses. Advertising is often a reminder that you are still there. The advertisement serves as a reminder that you are still there offering to serve. If you don’t advertise the question is, are you still there? We get calls all the time asking if we know the name of a Black business that does this or that. We look to our advertising logs to ﬁnd someone to refer. If you’re not advertising, are you really there available to serve our readers?
Pasadena is a well-educated community with a number of attorneys and medical doctors and dentists. Attorney Marlene Cooper is one of a few lawyers whose practice emphasizes family law and estate planning. She has practiced law for over thirty years and has written Living Trusts and Wills for hundreds of families in California.
Park Bench Grill, Roger Douglas State Farm Insurance Agency, Caple Brothers Construction, Robin’s Restaurant, Carolyn Roddy and Pampered Lady Florist have a long history in Pasadena a community and still operate giving the type of top quality service that keeps people coming back.
Public safety is an integral part of a city that affects the lives of all who live there. Careers in fire and Policing affect our lives but ﬁnd few local participants. In Pasadena the Fire Chief, Bertral Washington is African American. He represents the third African American Fire Chief in Pasadena’s history. He laments that there are not more applicants for the department and has personally appeared at events where he promotes ﬁre department positions as a positive career choice.
In policing there have been African American chiefs, deputy chiefs, and commanders. This career is an equal opportunity employment, like all government employment where the sky is the limit. Pasadena has had African Americans at all levels. Currently, the department boasts a deputy chief, Darryl Qualls, and a female commander, Cheryl Moody. Policing, like most government related work, provides an opportunity to work with improving your community while earning a top salary and top rated retirement.
Both fire and policing are government departments that were hard fought to enter careers. There was a second ﬁght to get females through open doors to enter certain work. Public safety was one of the last doors to kick open.
Dr. Martin Luther King was killed ﬁghting for equal employment opportunities in Memphis, TN. He was speciﬁcally ﬁghting to get opportunities with garbage workers and government work in general. Now the door is open and the ball is in the courts of Black families to encourage their sons and daughters to take up careers to protect their community and their friends, neighbors and parents. Criticizing the Public Safety Departments, getting in to help them do a better job is on us.
Pasadena is proud of its history in equal employment opportunities it needs more African American and females to get into doors that are open.
The Annual Young African American Male Conference and the Delta Sorority’s Young African American Women’s Conference guarantee that young people are attended to as they journey from high school to college. The Scholar’s Chat at John Muir High School in Pasadena, sponsored by the AKA Sorority, and their Annual Scholarship Workshop help parents and their young people prepare for their college journeys. These events acquaint families with a way to pay for their college education, while acquainting them with college and adult life.
Councilmember John Kennedy for district three has been elected Vice Mayor of Pasadena. John holds a Law degree from America’s premier Black university, Howard University, and has traveled across the world. He is uniquely qualiﬁed to represent Pasadena on the council. He is a Pasadena native, attended Pasadena schools, and knows the city better than a few others.
Thanks to State Senator Anthony Portantino, a freeway was named the Obama Freeway just west of Pasadena, connecting the 210 near Glendale with Los Angeles. This freeway is named after our 44th President Obama. The Obama Freeway joins Thurgood Marshall Street, just south of Pasadena.
Efforts to get an African sister city for Pasadena have been fruitless, and meetings for the effort have risen and fell over the years. One discussion arose and ﬁzzled this year as well. In cities across the south we see cities going around an Ofﬁcial Sister city.
One event is called, “Africa in April,” and provide events for a week with a luncheon, youth day, and a cultural activity event. Also, there is a Black Business Week when Blacks are encouraged to trade with Black businesses. This was a way to serve Africa Sweet Other cities have events to honor Africa in addition to Juneteenth and Black History month which does not exactly celebrate Africa.
Those wanting to celebrate our African roots may want to ﬁnd another way, rather than participating in the Established Sister Cities programs. New Orleans has a number of ways to celebrate our African roots.
The Journal celebrates African American people in a number of ways including our annual Women of Achievement Breakfast and our biennial Juneteenth Marketplace. With the help of State Senator Anthony Portantino we celebrate Black Students by the annual Black Students Institute where the University Of California partners with students from across the country for a week at one of our local Universities.
Also in City Politics, in addition to having elected John Kennedy to Vice Mayor, Pasadena has a second Black Councilmember, Tyron Hampton, and Pasadena Unified School District has an African American female Board Representative, Michelle Bailey, who was recently elected. The Pasadena City College Board of Trustees has one African American member Berlinda Brown. Brown has served well on the Board and this year joined with other Board members to provide free tuition for entering students for their ﬁrst year.
Horace Wormley serves as one of the city’s highest ranking staffers and has been employed for the past 35 years. He currently serves as Director of Human Services. Also, moving up the ladder is Lola Osborn who works with youth in the city. She is in charge of the numerous youth programs of the city.
Unlike the past when African Americans ran a number of City programs like Water and Power, Finance.
One prominent citizen said in his opinion the recruitment process is a problem today. He says that Blacks are not being hired and promoted because of the recruitment process. He says it does not appear to be open, active discrimination in hiring but discrimination based on adverse impact. When you look around and don’t see any Blacks, it is adverse impact discrimination rather than active discrimination. The result is the same, a shortage of Blacks at the director and above employment levels.
In my opinion the loss of Prentice Deadrick at the Assistant City Manager level in the mid 1990’s was the beginning of the decline of Black managers. Deadrick was special Assistant to City Manager Philip Hawkey in 1994. Now we have no Blacks in the City Manager’s ofﬁce, not even a special assistant to the City manager. This is a prime example of adverse impact. With no representative in that office, the decline continues. I note that there was an active Black Employees Association whose current status is unknown.
[Please note: This is a partial report, as many items have not been covered here. If you would like
to contribute information on the current State of Black Pasadena, you are welcome to submit it for our consideration in a future article. Please email to: journal@pasadenajournal. com, in a word format, and put: “State of Black Pasadena” in your subject line. Also include your name and contact information (withheld by request). Thank you.]