The Pasadena Branch of the NAACP held its 25th annual awards dinner honoring eleven of the area's prominent community leaders on September 9th at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel. For a few hours the community's influential gathered to celebrate the civil rights organization accomplishments and those who are working to improve social inequalities.
In the tradition of awarding and honoring those who give of their time and talents for the good of the community and to aid the continuing fight for justice and equality the Pasadena Branch of the NAACP honored eleven outstanding citizens for their contributions. This year's honorees covered such diverse fields of endeavor as administrators of neighborhood and community services, media publishing, photography, education, medicine, and law enforcement.
Among this year's honorees were, Afarah Board, senior manager of customer service for business services for Southern California Edison. In addition to her duties as manager, Afarah works with the Boys and Girls Clubs in her community and serves as Western Regional Coordinator for The American Association of Blacks in Energy.
Dolores Hickambottom is a well known volunteer and community activist who, among her many activities, serves as a founding member and chair for the African American Advisory Committee of Pasadena City College. Her list of accomplishments and awards are indeed impressive including a Community Legend Award from the Journal for her political activities. She expressed a sincere appreciation for being chosen and honored for her services.
"This is very humbling to me because I knew Ruby McKnight Williams," said Mrs. Hickambottom. "I stand on the shoulders of those who have gone on before me." She added that the most cherish moment, as a community activist was the integration of the Pasadena Unified School District.
Horace Wormely is administrator for the Pasadena City's Neighborhood Services Department which gives him responsibility for the city's recreational department among other things. James Nash serves as a director of CBS News and volunteers his time working with young people and others in the midst of running his own Media Company NASH Media established I 1985. Nash said, "Knowing the history of the NAACP and what it has accomplished, I feel that I've become a part of that legacy which continues to bring the best forward for our people."
Former California Attorney General, Attorney John Van De Kamp and photographer Michael Fernandez, a native Pasadenan and one of the young people who participated in the 1964 school integration program, said, "It was an honor and a privilege to be recognized by the community for the Presidential Recipient Award. It was a combination of my mother dreams she had sent me to Pasadena High School for the purpose of integration back in 1965."
Also recognized were Dr. Roseline Dauphin- Baptiste, who works with the Southern California Medical Group, and Dr. Henri Ford, from the Department of Surgery at Children's Hospital.
Rounding out this year's honorees is Pasadena Police Department's Lieutenant Phulante Riddle. She is the first African American female to reach the rank of Sergeant and later to Lieutenant.
She expressed her sentiments for being chosen by saying, "It is a tremendous honor to receive the NAACP Shirley Fields Volunteer Award. I am grateful for the public recognition for serving my community and humbled by this award. I am thankful to the NAACP for their continuous efforts and contributions to the City of Pasadena, as well as this year's Honorary Committee for their participation and sponsorship."
Joe Brown, president of the Pasadena NAACP expressed he was proud of the fact that the organization continues the pursuit for equality in a changing world. The issues of crime, education and HIV infection are part of the enemies that the organization fight in addition to the longstanding challenges of preparing today's youth for a changing job market. Most assuredly, Brown's success as president is debated often questioned because of his not so popular positions and alliances.
"Questions have been raised about this organization and why we are not honoring just black people," said Brown. "Some have even questioned as to why should we honor former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp. He has played an important role in this town. We look for persons who have brought quality of life changes in the community. We believed it shows diversity in this community." Brown, recently appointed as chairman of the organization's western region, said the organization must not only consider individuals who have made major contributions but "those who can fill a room."
Trying to sum up the legacy of Pasadena NAACP's more than nine decades of service throughout the area in one neat snapshot is impossible. Even so, it remains to be seen whether the NAACP is keeping pace with the continuing economic hardships and ever-unstable racial tensions throughout Pasadena.
Cameron Turner was the Master of Ceremonies.
[Photographs courtesy of Xavier Higgs.]