Pasadena is looking at a history making future of three African American Council members there have been one and at times two African Americans on the Council, now there will be three, Tyron Hampton representing District One John Kennedy representing District Three, and Felicia Williams, the third African American and the only woman on the Council when she takes office in December. She was born and raised in Pasadena, and many have worked with her father, Horace Williams, on issues important to the community. With a background in public policy and city finances, Felicia is focused on COVID-19 recovery, especially for our small local businesses. Preserving our City's financial strength and maintaining services needed to support a diverse, healthy, and resilient community will also be her focus on the Council.
Michelle Bailey represents the African American community on the Pasadena Unified School DistrictBoard. The Pasadena Association of School Administrators is an organization representing African American students in the Pasadena Unified School District. Brian McDonald remains Superintendent and Trudell Skinner is a top administrator at the District. African Americans serve in all positions in the District including principals and teachers. Below, you’ll find contributory articles with regard to the State of Black Pasadena from Dr. Trudell Skinner and Michelle Bailey of Pasadena Unified School Districe (PUSD) Pasadena City College Board Member, Berlinda Brown and Allen Edson, president of the Pasadena Branch NAACP.
COVID-19 has canceled customary graduations. Many are being held virtually. (See the Journal’s Virtual Graduation Celebration announcement in this issue.)
Pasadena City College (PCC) maintains a low Black enrollment at 3 percent. Berlinda Brown maintains her seat on the district’s governing board. The Association of black Employees keeps the group together with their annual breakfast. Students are faced with competition from well known Colleges and Universities as well as the 100 plus Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Over five and a half years ago, The Pasadena Journal was the first to notify the community and garner national attention with the front page shocking headline, “Is There Discrimination at Pasadena City College?” [Part One, August 6, 2015 and Part Two, August 12, 2015]. In the introductory paragraphs of the August 2015 Pasadena Journal described discrimination on its’ face as one in which employees endure a “keep quiet” approach, suppress their complaints because of the real fear of being fired. The institutionalized discrimination continues.
In March 2020, the Pasadena NAACP release “Pasadena NAACP Demands Solutions for the Hidden Figures at Pasadena City College: Black Women.” Excerpts from it include the fact that the Pasadena NAACP is investigating the hiring and promotional practices at Pasadena City College (PCC) specifically related to black employees and the hidden figures, black women. Highly educated black employees with extensive years of positive work experience stuck at lower paid entry level positions? Campus positions such as adjunct, clerk, janitorial, secretarial, professional expert (permanent part time) faculty, but not Deans, classified, etc.
In the April 2, 2020 issue of the Journal, we highlighted personnel disparities at PCC. The Journal advised the community in August 2015 to step up and demand that those regardless of race who were perpetuating the discrimination at PCC against black employees (full time, part time etc), black students, and people of all creeds be fired or replaced by people who “understand that diversity is a chief goal of the college.”
Dr. Erika Endrijonas assumed the helm of the college in January 2019, as Superintendent President of PCC, and eight months later in August 2019, 35 new employees were hired with less than four African Americans among them. In 2019, black student enrollment represented 3.75% of the PCC Student Body (Source: California Chancellor’s Office). Several of the Board of Trustees who were the community's elected representatives for the college in 2015, continue to serve as the community’s Trustee representative in 2020. The current Board of Trustees makeup is 5 males including one male student trustee; three females; and one additional female Trustee being added in 2020 thanks to the election of Tammy Silvers in March 2020. Under Dr. Erika Endrijonas, the January 2020 District Administrative Staffing and Functional Chart of 55 positions, shows 10 white men and 14 white women; 13 Latinx, and 9 African Americans.
Dr. Erika Endrijonas’ statement regarding PCC Programs benefiting African Americans. (Submitted by Berlinda Brown)
African American students at Pasadena City College have seen a substantial increase in outcomes over the past four years. From 2018 to 2019, the number of African American students that received degrees and certificates increased by 50 percent – building on a 15 percent increase over the prior year. More African American students are transferring to four-year colleges over the past four years, with an increase of 33 percent in just the last year. Student success figures, measuring performance in individual classes, have also been steadily increasing over this time period years, although much work remains to be done to create a truly equitable educational environment for these students.
The college has greatly expanded its programs to serve African American students, enhancing access, providing more effective support, and guiding students to the next step in their educational journey. The “On the Yard” program, now in its second year, is an HBCU-designed programs for students at PCC and local high schools that prepares students to apply to colleges and universities around the county. This program will be amplified this fall by an HBCU Caravan that will bring representatives from these colleges to Pasadena, either in-person or virtually. The Caravan will include on-the-spot admissions, workshops for students and families, and more. The college deepens these ties to the community through programs like Ujima and Blackademia, and has actively participated in Pasadena’s African American History Parade for years.
These efforts have deep impacts at the local level. PCC student Isaiah Johnson participated in an HBCU tour at the college and was admitted to Clark Atlanta University in January 2020. Financial considerations were holding him from attending, but at a PCC-hosted conference of African American Male Education Network & Development (A2MEND), he received a scholarship to make his college dreams possible – and then he received a second award on the spot from an audience member who was moved by his story. Isaiah was born and raised in Pasadena and found his way to PCC, and his participation in A2MEND is driving him to his goals. In 2019 PCC launched its own A2MEND chapter, building the capacity to bring these successes to students like Isaiah in the years to come.
PUSD - Dr. Trudell Skinner’s statement
One of the highlights in Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) relative to African American students is the Math Power Hour (MPH) Early Learning Initiative. The vision for the initiative came from the African American Parent Council (AAPC) after reviewing districtwide data and research. Studies have shown that math and early numeracy skills are the greatest predictors of educational and future career success. It is agreed that math is the gateway to college. Many students' math achievement potential is misidentified at an early age and never corrected.
In order to address these concerns, MPH focused on students in first and second grade. Six PUSD schools were identified to participate in this year’s pilot program. Volunteers were trained to work with small groups of students in the classroom, allowing for more individualized attention and affording the teacher the opportunity to differentiate instruction. Thirty-four classrooms had volunteers working with students. Data is being analyzed to determine growth. The MPH Initiative will continue during the 2020-2021 school year.
CITY OF PASADENA
Brenda Harvey Williams is Director of Recreation and Human Services, Lola Osborn is Deputy Director, Michele Bagneris is City Attorney and chief legal officer for the city, and Cheryl Moody is a commander and the highest-ranking officer for the Pasadena Police Department.
At the state level Chris Holden is serving as Assemblyman. He is the first African American to rise to that level for the Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley area.
The efforts to get an African American City Manager or Assistant City Manager in Pasadena is ongoing. Recent objections to actions by city councilmember Tyron Hampton could be interpreted as a show of evidence to carry out an appointment for an African American in that position. It took twenty years to get an African Sister City. It is hoped that gaining an African American City Manager or Assistant City Manager will not take as long.
After nearly twenty years of seeking to gain a Sister City in Africa, Pasadena has instituted a Sister City with Senegal West Africa. The person instrumental in this merger is Boualem Bousseloub.
According to Patricia Duff Tucker, Partnership Specialist (African-American/Black) Los Angeles Regional Office, U.S. Census Bureau (firstname.lastname@example.org), As of April 1, Pasadena's response rate was 43.1%, the National Rate was 40.9%. The U.S. Census Bureau has officially announced the extension of the 2020 Census Self Response to October 31, 2020. This is great news! It gives more time to outreach and encourages hard to count individuals and communities to self-respond. Households will be able to respond online, phone, and by mail during this time.
It is important that African Americans respond to the Census count, as it is important in determining what government services will be made available to citizens of color. Discussion continues with regard to those identifying themselves as “mixed” (having black and white parents).
The greater society still consider mixed racial individuals as Black. Proponents of individuals embracing their black heritage encourage these individuals to select Black on the census in order to benefit the dwindling numbers of African Americans who are provided even fewer benefits in funding and social services provided by the government. U.S. Census Bureau Office: (213) 314-6230, 2020census.gov.
Because of Couvid we are encouraging everybody to hold Virtual birthday parties, Anniversaries graduations and other important events.