Pasadena NAACP Names, Gathers Achievers in Transportation, Business, Education and the Arts Ahead of Centennial

Published : Thursday, August 15, 2019 | 5:42 AM

Outstanding community members ranging from transportation executives to restaurateurs gathered last night ahead of the Pasadena NAACP annual Ruby Williams McKnight awards dinner where they will be honored for their contributions.

This year’s gala will be extra special: the Pasadena Branch is marking its centennial.

The traditional Honorees Pre-Awards dinner get together drew the standout community members to the Terry Donahue Pavilion at the Rose Bowl, looking out of a Rose Bowl field stripped of turf as part of preparations for the upcoming Rolling Stones concert.

“All these awardees all have outstanding histories and have accomplished great things,” said Allen Edson, president of the NAACP Pasadena Branch.  “Each awardee has contributed to the advancement of life in Pasadena.”

The awardees this year are:

Arzella Valentine, wife of the late Fred Valentine, owner-operators of Woods Valentine Mortuary. The mortuary is celebrating 90 years in business. She will be honored with the Ruby McKnight Williams Award — unexpectedly even more significant than originally thought, after she revealed Wednesday she introduced to the NAACP by Ruby Williams McKnight herself in the 1940’s.

Floyd Norman, Illustrator and Art Center College alum who in his career at Walt Disney Company actually worked with the “maestro” himself, who will be honored with the Arts Award

Phillip Washington, CEO of the LA Metro, who will be awarded the Civic Award.

Pablo Alvarado, of National Day Laborer Organizing Network and civil rights activist, who will receive the Civic Award

Yahia Rahman, founder of the New Horizons School, will receive the Education Award

Faith awardees are: Rabbi Marvin Gross; Brian Takeda; Imam J. D. Hall; and Rev. Kerwin Manning.

In addition, Laura Farber, president of the Tournament of Roses will receive the President’s Award; NAACP ACT-SO medalist Marshall High School Jordan Patton will receive the Youth Award; Barbara Shay, whose family has owned Little Red Hen family restaurant will receive the Small Business Award; and Joe Brown, the former president of the Pasadena branch of the NAACP will receive the Leadership Award.

The event was hosted by Honorary Chair Darryl Dunn, CEO and General Manager of the Rose Bowl Operating Company.

Edson said the gala is the event of the year for the local NAACP branch. The purpose of the gala is to fundraise for the branch, and offset its operating expenses and to fund the programs.

The NAACP Pasadena branch has awarded nine scholarships this year.

“The money goes to our various programs,” Edson said. “We have a scholarship program and proceeds go to that. We funded $12,500 in scholarships this year, we awarded nine scholarships. That’s one of the big returns of the fundraising efforts. We’re starting to distribute the scholarships now.”

“This year with the ACT-SO program we sent 10 students to the individual competition in Detroit,” Edson said. “This year we got a silver medal for creative essay and that was awarded to Jordan Patton.”

At the gala, there will also be a silent auction and the chapter is always looking for donations to the silent auction, and in general.

For more information or to become a sponsor, go to the Pasadena NAACP website at

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