In a book from my hometown entitled, “African American Women Trail Blazers,” and subtitled, “A Celebration of Africa’s Gift to Kern County,” my mother is featured among 30 other women who achieved much in the midst of obstacles by the fact that they are Black and African American. The book is by Dr. Fred Luther Haynes. My mother was born in 1921 and died in 2006, my dad was born in 1918 and died in 1989. Both were born and raised in the South as were their parents. Neither acquired either a High School diploma or college degree. However, they acquired much including four children, three who acquired advanced college degrees and positions of pride. The home that we purchased in 1956 is still standing and still provides a source of pride for the three surviving children.
My Father, who polished cars for a living, and my mother, working as a domestic, took the hand-me-downs given to her as a domestic and opened what was called a second-hand store, selling used clothes, furniture and some antiques. Many lessons were learned in the Hopkins’ household with the Bible as the textbook and both parents as teachers.
One lesson was the biblical scripture that says, “Pride goeth before a fall…” As a young man I shined shoes, cut lawns, and even spent an educational day picking cotton in the ﬁelds. It was only one day because, after one half day, I was ready to return to being what the kids called me, “Second Hand Joe. I tell this story because of that scripture. Neither I, nor my family, were homeless. I can’t help but wonder what the stories of many homeless are. I can recall once asking that question of a homeless woman and getting cursed out. This scripture got me up at 4:00 a.m. on Saturdays to go to the local rummage sale with my mother and guard the products as she picked out such as, clothing, shoes, tables, lamps, and household goods.
The story of Black women in Pasadena has been told through the Pasadena Journal’s Women of Achievement Breakfast, held in April at Brookside Golf Club for the past ten years. We are suspending the breakfast portion of the Women of Achievement this year. The stories of these trailblazers and their contributions will be highlighted in the Journal, during Women’s History Month in March and also in April.
My wife, Ruthie, and I founded The Journal over 29 years. The Journal has sponsored various events such as The Pasadena Black Expo, Jesus is the Reason for the Season Concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, The Summer and Winter Marketplaces, Youth Marketplace, Grammy’s Place Gifts and Coffee Shop, and Women of Achievement. All were designed to expose Pasadena’s best through our events. In addition, we have served our community as members and ofﬁcers by working in programs and organizations such as the Pasadena AKA Sorority, Gathering of Grandmothers and Granddaughters program to inform young high school women, West Coast Black Publishers Association, Pasadena Black Lawyers, and the Pasadena Black Business Association
We continue working to serving and help make our community a better place for Black Pasadena.