Congresswoman Maxine Waters Tells Gathering Honoring the Rose Parade’s First African American President “Pasadena Has Moved Forward”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, center, with VIP guests, elected officials, sponsors and special guests during the Community Reception for 2019 Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny. Bonita Perkins, left, and Maritza HastyHon. Okorie Ezime right, with his wife Ngozi EzimeHon. Sandra E. Thomas, left, Hon. Linda Wah, Hon. Mary Ann LutzMike A. Gipson, left, and Senator Steven BradfordRuthie and Joe HopkinsOtis Triplett, left, and Clara SneedPasadena Mayor Terry TornekLee Bird, left, with his wife Pat Bird, and Evan Hitchcock Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington with wife Cheri Washington.Mattie Mcfadden Lawson, Board Advisor of International Black Women\'s Public Policy Institute, with her husband Ambassador Michael Lawson.Hon. Tyron Hampton, Councilmember for City of Pasadena with guests during the Community Reception for 2019 Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny.

Photography by JAMES CARBONE

5:38 am | September 10, 2018

Over 350 community members gathered to honor and celebrate not only the man who is the President of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Gerald Freeny, the Association’s first African American President, but the culmination of the civil rights journey that led to his appointment.

“This did not come about easily,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters told the crowd packing the E-Central Credit Union headquarters lobby at 990 South Fair Oaks Avenue.

“It did not come about because everybody was nice and they sat in the back room and they smiled at each other and they said yes, we understand,” Waters continued. “A lot of protests were involved. And I think that this tells the story of why protest is so important. This tells a story of what protest can bring about.”

In the crowd dotted with Southland politicians, educators, civic leaders in Pasadena’s African American community and Tournament officials, publisher Joe Hopkins, who documented those decades-ago protests in his “Pasadena Journal” newspaper, clutched a bag containing a T-shirt.

The shirt was one of the batch made by Hopkins’ son and worn by Pasadena Mayor Rick Cole during the 1993 Rose Parade. It is emblazoned with the tagline “Tournament of Racism.”

The man of the hour, Gerald Freeny, unfortunately was not able to attend the reception due to illness.

He was represented by his wife, Trina.

Vice Mayor John Kennedy asked the members of the crowd to bow their heads and offer up good wishes and prayers to Freeny and his family for a quick recovery.

“Pasadena has a mixed past of good and bad,” Kennedy said. “but when we come together as a community, we can progress together. It’s evident by the fact that Gerald Freeny is the President of the Tournament of Roses.”

The Vice Mayor’s sister Lena L. Kennedy chaired the event along with local businessman Ron Carter. The event was hosted by Community Women Vital Voices in association with E-Central Credit Union.

Congresswoman Waters exhorted the crowd to “enjoy that Pasadena has moved forward.”

“Progress has been made. And I did not say it lightly when I said that this is a message that will be heard around the country.”