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Glimpses of Early Black History in Pasadena 1850-1

By Blog Master
Posted: 11/21/2021
Notes by Sharon Jarrett

  Dick Myers introduced the speaker for the meeting, Adrian Panton.  Mr. Panton is a volunteer at the Pasadena Museum of History.  In preparation for a Gallery Exhibit, "Family Stories" he began to research the African American Community in Pasadena.  From his research he developed his presentation "Glimpses of Early Black History in Pasadena, 1850-1958" which can be viewed at Glimpses of Early Black History in Pasadena

Mr. Panton began his remarks by reviewing information about California's statehood.  California was admitted to the Union in 1850 as a non slave state.  Although California did have a relationship to slavery in that the Fugitive Slave Act was implemented as a compromise for entry into the Union.

Pasadena's growth began after the Civil War and the city was incorporated in 1886.  It quickly became a winter residence for wealthy families and individuals.  African American individuals and families arrived in the 1850s and were involved in business and service.

A brief illustrated overview followed:

Prince Family.      Founders of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1887.  The family owned multiple businesses and newspapers.  

Seaborn Carr.        Wrote the Pasadena Section for the California Eagle newspaper.  Founded Scott Methodist Church in 1903.

Carrie McAdoo.      Operated McAdoo Grocery beginning in 1909.

William Madison.    Operated a saw mill and a rental car business at the turn of the century.

William Lundy.         Operated a shoe shine business in the early part of the 20th century.

James Woods.        Operated a shoe shine shop until 1928.  At which time he completed his certification as a mortician and opened a funeral home.  This business merged with another and is today still in operation as Woods-Valentine Mortuary on Fair Oaks Blvd.

McAfee Family.       Operated a transfer service that worked with hotel guests upon arrival by train.

Jones Family.          Operated a house cleaning service

Francesca Building.  22-26 Dayton Street.  Built in 1923 housed many African American businesses
and still stands today.

John Wright.             Organized the Pasadena chapter of the NAACP in 1919

Mack Robinson and Jackie Robinson, participants in the 1936 Olympic games.  Mack Robinson worked for the City of Pasadena after the games.

Ray Bartlett.               Second African American Pasadena Police Officer hired in 1947

Bill Duncan.               First African American Pasadena Firefighter hired in 1952

Joan Wilson.             Selected Miss Crown City in 1957.  When it was discovered that she was African American the City Rose Parade Float was cancelled and she was snubbed by the Mayor.

Mae Reese Johnson.   Founded the Scattergood Association which was a youth mentorship program.

Dr. Edna Griffin.            First African American doctor in Pasadena in 1933

Carver Hotel.              Center of Jazz music and community events in the African American community.

Naomi Bowen.            Established the Dayton Street Chamber of Commerce in 1944

A series of questions and remembrances by participants followed.  It was noted that in the 1890 census the African American population was 1.5 percent, in 2010 it was 10.7 and in the recent census slightly over 8 percent of the population.

A recording of the presentation can be found in the Events section of the Village website under Presentations.  The photo illustrations from the Pasadena Museum of History Collection are archived on the USC Digital Library. And can be viewed by following this link to the presentation, "Glimpses of Early Black History in Pasadena."

The next meeting is December 3rd at 10:00 PST. The scheduled meeting fort the 1619 Project  Discussion Group, December 17th, will not be held due to the observance of the holiday season. The next meeting of this group will be held in 2022 on the 1st Friday of the month, January 7th at 10Am PST.
You can watch the video of this presentation at Glimpses of Early Black History in Pasadena.

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