Much ado has been made about the loss of African Americans and their families who have been leaving Pasadena over the past few years. The record is clear that though Black population has been reduced, African Americans still maintain a voice in the life of this great city.
African Americans are woven into the life of the city of Roses, from the statues of and symbols of the great Jackie Robinson and his Olympian brother, Mack Robinson, to the street named after Thurgood Marshall. Statues of Jackie stand near City Hall and at the entrance of the world famous Rose Bowl stadium. Jackie Robinson Center and Jackie Robinson Park sits in Northwest Pasadena. Much of the Robinson family still reside in Pasadena.
Our annual report on the status of Pasadena comes at the beginning of May, 2018 and attempts to tell the story of where we are as we enter the middle of this year. This is like a visit of an old friend telling the good and the bad position that the old friend has endured since last we encountered and took inventory of their life.
Politically, we are represented on every organization effecting the lives of Black Pasadena. Two African American males sit on the Pasadena City Council, John Kennedy representing District three, and Tyron Hampton representing District one.
One African American female, Michelle Bailey, represents students on the Pasadena Uniﬁ ed School District Board. We have a black female serving as a Pasadena City College Board of Trustees member. Berlinda Brown is a candidate for reelection to a new term in the June, 2018 election.
At the Pasadena city staff level, top level black executives include, Horace Wormely, Director of Human Services and Recreation, Lola Osborn is Deputy Director of that department, Michelle Bagneris is the City Attorney, and Bertrayl Washington is the Fire Chief.
PASADENA CITY COLLEGE
Pasadena City College has no African Americans at the helm. They are currently in a period of searching for a new President. The last election was cancelled because the two top candidate ﬁnalists dropped out at the last minute. One was an African American male. PCC’s outreach and recruitment team attends more than 400 events in the K-12 system and the community each year. The team goes to local area high schools to assist students with the enrollment process and provide support for those who aspire to transfer once they arrive at PCC. (Transfer Admission Guarantees, HBCUs, etc.) Outreach staff members host a series of parent information sessions and partner with churches and libraries, students, parents and community members, Flintridge, and Aspires West mentorship and tutoring for middle school and high school students, and PUSD, John Muir’s MPYD program. The goals are to build a pipeline from John Muir HS to PCC to UCLA and to increase the number of students who transfer. PCC programs help students through Ujima which provides support and community-building to enhance the African American college experience, earn more credits at the end of their ﬁrst, second, and third years than students in the comparison group. Blackademia provides guidance and directs all Black students at PCC to the resources they need to fulﬁll their academic goals. Beneﬁts include academic coaching, bookstore vouchers, peer mentoring, tutoring, networking, opportunities and assistance with financial aid. The program also co-hosts Black History Month activities, a ﬁlm showcase and supports the Pasadena Black History Parade each year. The Transfer Bound team helps them reach their goal of transferring to four-year colleges and universities.
PASADENA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
The PUSD Board is headed by Brian McDonald, an African American. PUSD’s Dual Enrollment program between the district (Muir) and PCC seems to have fallen apart. At press time, this had not been veriﬁed. It is not known if it is the entire program or just the program housed at Muir. If this is true, it is a shame, as dual enrollment allows high school students the opportunity to enroll and take community college level classes while still in high school and many times graduate from community college with an AA before graduating from high school. This is helpful in career tech programs to students by giving them a head start in that area. There should be an effort to reinstate any canceled programs. Perhaps the Altadena NAACP and/or the Pasadena NAACP can address PUSD and advocate to continue the program. On another note many school districts will be training staff on the issues of Equity. We question if PUSD will be participating in those types of professions development programs for their staff?
Pasadena has numerous private schools including Rosebud and Tubman school which were founded by African Americans. Public Schools are located throughout the city and are all part of the Pasadena Uniﬁ ed School District. There are approximately 30 schools in the district including three middle schools, Eliot Middle School, Wilson Middle School and Washington Accelerated School. There are four high schools, Blair High School, Pasadena High School, Marshall fundamental, John Muir High and Rose City High School.
Note: these numbers may have change as the budget changes. Also, the District has recently announced the potential of closing of ﬁve schools. The Pasadena Uniﬁ ed School District is located at 351 South Hudson Ave. in Pasadena.
PASADENA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Pasadena Police Department, like the Pasadena City College, is recruiting for a new Chief, following the recent retirement of Philip Sanchez. Cheryl Moody is a commander and is the highest ranking African American ofﬁcer in the Department.
At the State level, we are represented by State Assemblymember Chris Holden. He is the ﬁrst African American to rise to the state level in the Assembly from the San Gabriel Valley.
CITY MANAGER / ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER
Pasadena has never had an African American City Manager or Assistant City Manager. In a diverse city such as Pasadena there has been a struggle to gain parity in the area of gaining an Assistant City manager. For whatever reason it hasn’t happened. The community asks the question, “Why not?” The next question is, “When?”
Statement by Michele Beal Bagneris, Pasadena City Attorney/City Prosecutor
The Black community in Pasadena is diverse in its thought and rich in its history. In the arts, sports, business and government, to name a few areas, Black Pasadena continues to move forward. African American representation in the highest levels of city government reﬂects progress made in ensuring a continued role and voice in such an ethnically and economically diverse community. We continue to experience challenges in our community, and in many ways those challenges are a reﬂection of national issues. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to educate and inspire our youth to be a positive force in society and respectful of themselves, other people and other people’s property. As we do this consistently and in earnest, I am conﬁ dent that we will experience an even better quality of life for all. The city’s legal department which I am responsible for overseeing has been successful in a number of ways that beneﬁt the community. Among other aspects, this includes lowering liability costs which increases funding availability for vital community services, and promoting public safety by prosecuting violators of the law, when appropriate. Fortunately, we are making progress in the areas of education, employment and opportunities for advancement, and I remain optimistic that the State of Black Pasadena is such that we will continue to lift each other and support people of all ethnicities as we live and work together to move everyone forward.
Pasadena has numerous youth programs including the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Clubs and Campﬁ re girls. Pasadena also hosts boys and girls Sports Clubs such as the Pasadena Ponies and Pop Warner baseball and football leagues. For older youth, college age and college bound youth can participate in numerous mentoring programs.
Tecumseh Shackelford is a leader in the youth mentoring program (MYPD). These youth are guided from street activities to programs that lead to careers. Information on these programs may be acquired by contacting the Jackie Robinson Center. The center hosts and sponsors numerous programs and activities including the annual Black History Parade and Festival.
The Aspires West youth program is designed to guide youth through the activities that lead to college. The after-school program offers tutoring and mentoring and encourages students to participate in the annual Martin Luther King Art and Speech contest. These programs are led by the husband and wife team of Dr. Jackie and Dr. David Jacobs. Other youth and job training programs are offered under Jaylene Mosley and the Flintridge Center.
SUMMARY OF DEMOGRAPHICS OF PASADENA
The decreasing African American population and increasing cost of living is a major factor that has made it difﬁcult for the average family to reside here. Statistical information included here was compiled by Ms. Elise Preston Mallory of the Pasadena Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Ms. Mallory presented these statistics at a community meeting at Jackie Robinson Center in the February, 2018.
In the year 2000 Pasadena population was 133,938 with a Black population of 19,354 or 14.45 %. In 2015 Pasadena population had increased to 139,899 with a Black population of 14,480 and was reduced to 9.8 %. Latino and Asian populations are increasing as Black population decreases. Most of the decrease in Black population was renters in the ages under 10 years of age and adults in their 30s.
Average household Income for Pasadenans was $69.3k. Average income for Pasadena residing African Americans was $63.9k. Average housing cost in Pasadena is 190% higher than the national average. The cost of living in Pasadena is 21% higher than the California average and 65% higher than the national average. The average home in Pasadena is valued at $776,000. Median rent in Pasadena is $2,700 per month. Education in Pasadena is also high. 33.2 % of Black Pasadenans have completed a Bachelor’s degree or more while 49.1 % of all Pasadenans have a Bachelors or more.
Preparation for economic improvement can be best accomplished by continuing your education. Southern California has numerous Trade Schools Community Colleges and some of the world’s best Universities.
The educational community is holding its’ breath to see if the program for a dual AA Degree and High School diploma will survive. The program at John Muir High School is under ﬁ re as opponents are trying to kill the program. A letter writing campaign is being suggested to help the program survive. This will help stem the tide against loss of employment preparation opportunities.
In order to maintain and get better, we must understand that the unity of the people is the key. We must realize that unity of black, white, brown and others gave us progress including a black president of the Tournament of Roses, a number of Black mayors, Police Chief, Fire Chiefs, Department heads, including Water and Power, Communications, Commission on the Status of Women and a number of black vice Presidents of Pasadena City College.
The State of Black Pasadena (Part 1) submitted by Elise Mallory
Part I of The State of Black Pasadena was sponsored in the ﬁrst quarter of 2018, by the Pasadena Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the City of Pasadena, Exceptional Quality Professional Development, Inc., the Pasadena/Altadena Ivy Foundation, and the Pasadena Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
You may have been looking around lately and noticed changes taking place within your neighborhood and wondered “What is Going On?” Members of the Pasadena Community recently came together to have this discussion. The State of Black Pasadena shared data by the numbers on Blacks in Pasadena. Per the 2010 Census, the Pasadena population grew from 2000 to 2010, but the Black Population declined by 24.3% to approximately 10.5% from 14.45%. Ultimately, it comes down to the cost of living in Pasadena, income levels and education.
It costs approximately 21% more to live in Pasadena than the rest of California. Housing in Pasadena is about 190% higher than the rest of the country at an average home sale rate of $763K and rental rate of $2700/month. This means that you must have a degree or vocational skills (electrician, plumber, etc) in order to earn an income that is high enough to afford to live in Pasadena. Currently, there is a gap among our Pasadena Black residents where approximately 33% are meeting this qualiﬁcation and can afford to pay for a roof over their heads in the City of Roses. This reality means that Blacks are moving out of Pasadena/Altadena to more affordable places like Palmdale, San Bernardino County and other states.
Unfortunately, we also have some people that are finding themselves homeless as they can’t afford to pay for and live in the neighborhood they grew up in. The Black population is falling behind. If we don’t act now, Black people will miss out on the economic growth that has already started taking place. What is the key to bending this curve? It starts with Education.
You need to get a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or complete a Trade School so you will have skills that someone will pay to gain access to. Pasadena has over 1300 nonproﬁts that are ready to make a difference in this community. They hold their hands out, but in a city where there are so many people needing help, there is a gap in people taking advantage of these helping hands to close the disparity gaps that exist within our city.
If you are interested in getting involved in a community effort by joining others to tackle some of the challenges African Americans face, send an email to stateofblackpasadena@gmail. com. Please provide your name, area of interest and a phone number
TOURNAMENT OF ROSES ASSOCIATION
The Tournament of Roses has elected Gerald Freeney to head the organization for the coming year. Freeney will be the ﬁrst African American ever in that spot. He arrives there after a long struggle for equality in the organization.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS – Sister City Status
Pasadena is part of the International Sister Cities Program. There are Sister Cities for every Continent in the world, however, the work of getting a Sister City from Africa has been resisted and is still an ongoing battle. People looking for information on the historical battle may contact Dr. Gerda Govine Ituarte through The Journal. Africa is waiting. This is unﬁnished business.