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City Manager Open to Holding Black History Parade in Spring If COVID Numbers Allow

Published on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 | 11:26 am
 

City Manager Cynthia Kurtz said on Monday the city would be willing to reconvene the committee responsible for planning the Black History Parade depending on the status of the pandemic.

Kurtz said the city would be happy to bring the committee back together again in a few weeks to have a discussion on holding the parade later this year.

“If we are coming out of COVID like we hope we are, maybe they would consider rescheduling sometime in the spring. If the council believes that would be worth another discussion we would be happy to have that.”

The parade was canceled earlier this month due to an inability to institute safety protocols preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Unlike the Rose Parade, the event is not ticketed, and the city cannot control who shows up.

Kurtz said on Monday that only seven entries had signed up to participate in the event, which usually attracts hundreds of entries.

Pasadena’s Black History Parade is one of the largest and longest-running Black history celebrations in the state.

Councilmember Steve Madison said he hoped the parade could be held in June.

“I wonder if it would be possible to look at rescheduling the parade maybe for June around Juneteenth,” said Madison. “I’d hate to see that parade miss a year, but obviously COVID has had far-reaching effects.”

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the slaves there were free.

The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in confederate states waging war against the union, leaving Black people in border states that remained loyal to the Union in bondage, a fact consistently omitted from history books.

And African Americans in some places were forced to endure brutality due to the lack of available Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order which went into effect on Jan. 1. 1863.

President Joe Biden signed a bill last year making Juneteenth a national holiday after the House and the Senate passed the bill in a rare showing of bipartisanship,

If the parade is moved to Juneteenth, it would also correspond with the city’s incorporation,

Pasadena was incorporated on June 19, 1886 and many abolitionists came to the Pasadena/Altadena area, including Ellen Garrison Clark and John Brown’s son Owen.

After the parade was canceled, local residents quickly pointed out that the Rose Parade was held even as the numbers of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations were increasing.

Prior to the Rose Parade, holiday events and bowl games were canceled across the country as the nation began battling a new wave of the virus. Some residents at the time questioned why the parade and game were taking place.

But the city had strict protocols in place for the Rose Parade. Ninety-one percent of the more than 6,500 participants in this year’s parade were vaccinated and the other 9% were required to provide proof of a negative test within 72 hours of the event. Patrons in the area where the audience was the largest were asked to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test.

“The Black History Parade and Black History Month are integral to the fabric of Pasadena and yes, it feels like we have lost something since we are not going to have the parade,” said Councilmember John Kennedy. “But the reality is we all want to be safe and people have their fears and their concerns. When you drop from over 100 entries to less than 10 not because people are not empathetic and don’t want to enjoy the multiplicity of cultures that exist in Pasadena, it’s something else and that’s health and safety.”

The City and Black History Planning Committee will go ahead with hosting a wide variety of free family-friendly events this year in celebration of Black History Month. All events comply with Pasadena Public Health Department COVID-19 protocols.

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