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Review of Pasadena History, Brian Biery

By Blog Master
Posted: 07/21/2022

The meeting was focused on a guest speaker Brian Biery of Pacific Oaks College. The focus of the presentation was racism in Pasadena historically and present day. Mr. Biery was joined by three members of the present day African American community: Alma Stokes, a former teacher and activist in the community and Chip Williams and Danny Parker both Pacific Oaks graduates and community members.

Using a series of slides the group discussed various periods in Pasadena's history.

1. 1880-1920. The citrus industry, Great Migration and Jim Crow

McAdoo Grocery. First African American owned business 1899

1935 City Map which demonstrated the housing patterns with Africans Americans living in the Northwest and Southwest of the city

2. 1920-1940. Vibrant Community

Francisca Building. 22-26 Dayton

First AME Church Vernon at Kensington demolished to build 710 freeway now at 1700 Raymond

Friendship Baptist Church. Only African American Church still in original location

James Woods Mortuary 87 S Vernon now on North Fair Oaks

Hotel Carver 1075 Fair Oaks

St. Barnabus Episcopal Church

The recording will have personal recollections about these locations provided by Alma Stokes, Chip Williams and Danny Parker

3. Pervasive Discrimination and Exclusion

Brookside Plunge

Federal Housing Authority: 1934 Risk Rating System

Separation of races as policy

Increased costs of ownership for the African American Community

4. Redevelopment

Destruction of communities for the construction of the 210 and 710 freeways

Kings Village project

Freeways used to separate races

5. Social Status of the Negro in Pasadena: A Study by James Crimi, USC, 1941

6. School Desegregation

La Canada formed it's own district

Over a 4 year period 40% of the students left the district, primarily white

7. Joan Williams

Selected by city em0loyees as Miss Crown City. Was to ride on the city float in the 1958 Rose Parade. When discovered she was African American float was withdrawn. Finally rode on a float in 2015 with acknowledgement of what had occurred.

8. Where can we go from here

Support education

Ask questions about the community and history

Use community examples to demonstrate impacts


The participants thank the presenters for a robust and thought provoking presentation.

A recording of this presentation is available for your viewing as a Racial History of Pasadena.

Our next event will be Friday, August 5th at 10:00AM PST. There are many major events occupying the newsfeed at the moment, particulary the January 6th Committee Investigation, the next electon in November 2022, developments in many state elections around the country and climate change. In our next meeting we might try to discuss what we see coming in these major news stories and, specifically, how do we think the expected changes will play out in the racial environment that is the focus of our discussions. Come and share your thoughts and hear what your friends and neighbors are thinking and feeling about where we are today.

Following that in August, on the 3rd Friday, August 19th, we will hear from Roberta H. Martinez, discussing her book,Latinos in Pasadena. Roberta is a local activist who has collected and assembled a great deal of local history into a book that explores the experiences of Latinos in the city of Pasadena.

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