With only two weeks to go before the Journal's Annual Breakfast to honor ten African American women of Achievement, we wanted to do something for these special talented women. Since we knew they were royalty because of their lighting the way for so many of us who live and work in Pasadena, we asked the officials of the Tournament of Roses if we could have them spend an afternoon at the Tournament House. It was kind of a late visit by these talented queens, picking up their roses after waiting a long time.
The spirit of that event is best told in a little story by honoree Lois Richard. She tells of how she once found herself in a group of mostly White women and the subject of the Brookside swimming pool came up. Lois, who was born in Pasadena, knew that when she was a little girl, Blacks could only swim one day a week at Brookside. At the end of their day, the city would drain the pool that night and refill it before the Whites could return to swim the next day.
Lois, who was always a classy lady, graduate of UCLA and first Black woman to run for City Council in Pasadena, responded unexpectedly by simply asking the group: "Did you miss me?"
That story and dozens of others from our pioneer honorees help tell the story of growing up and living in Pasadena when African Americans were the subject of a segregated city. Those who pioneered, like honoree Regenia Moses, helped open the door for Blacks to teach in Pasadena. She became the first African American Principal in the Pasadena School District. Her first Pasadena experience was being told that she could not teach in Pasadena, until a white male principal demanded that she be assigned to him. It's no wonder that she is a pioneer. She is the cousin of Carter G. Woodson (founder of Black History Month), and her father actually started a number of schools in El Centro, California, to provide a place to teach Blacks.
Honoree Versie Mae Richardson literally opened doors by selling homes to Blacks in segregated neighborhoods by never letting the buyer and seller meet until the sale was done. Honoree Juanita DeVaughn, with an Alabama A & M degree in hand, was told that she couldn't teach in Pasadena but she could work as a cook. Tuskegee graduate Dr. Mae Cowan marched from the Cotton Fields of Alabama to a PhD, before becoming Director of Teacher Education at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena.
Honorees, Dr. Mae Cowan, Juanita DeVaughn, Mildred Hawkins and Mildred Lewis, navigated racist practices by wit and determination. Each stood her ground and persevered. Mildred Hawkins sued Parsons for job discrimination. Honoree Delano Robinson proudly carries forth the legacy of her husband, Mack Robinson, the 1936 Silver Medal winner of the 200 meter race that publicly destroyed Hitler's myth of white supremacy.
Each of these pioneering women kept marching in their own way, opening doors for those of us who came behind as they went. With their entry into each new plateau they all excelled and without verbalizing it.
Don't miss the opportunity to come out and meet these wonderful women. Please join us in honoring these queens as we say "Thank you" at the Third Annual Women of Achievement Breakfast on April 28, 2012, 9 a.m., at Brookside Clubhouse, and give them their roses while they yet live and can still smell them.
The deadline has been extended to April 20, 2012, for ticket purchases. For more information, call the Journal Office at 626-798-3972.
Tickets may be purchased at the Journal Offices located at, 1541 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA, or by calling in with your credit card at 626-798-3972.