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Councilmember Hampton Wants City Hall Portraits, Plaque Removed That Honor Organizers of ‘Campaign of Racial Segregation’

Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 | 5:43 am

At left, Albert Stewart, the Pasadena Councilmember (later Mayor and State Assemblymember) who led the drive for “white only” real estate covenants in Pasadena in the 1940’s [Pasadena Library Collection]. At right, former Hahn & Hahn managing partner Herbert L. Hahn. [Caltech]
District 1 Councilmember Tyron Hampton has requested that the Pasadena City Council take up the removal of the portrait of former Pasadena Mayor A.L. Stewart from its place of honor in City Hall and that former Hahn & Hahn managing partner Herbert L. Hahn be stripped of the Arthur Noble award given to him in 1974 and a brass plaque honoring Hahn be removed from Council Chambers and replace the items with a plaque that condemns their historic Pasadena campaign of racial segregation.

Stewart served as mayor from 1941 to 1943.

“Both of these men were vicious racists who together engineered, imposed, defended in court and profited from a legal effort to prevent non-whites from buying homes in most areas of Pasadena. The organization these men managed and directed, the Pasadena Improvement Association, Inc., was responsible for economically terrorizing thousands of African American, Latino and Asian families,” Councilmember Tyron Hampton stated.

“Hahn & Hahn, a Pasadena law firm that still exists in the City, should also recognize and apologize for the historic role it and its former managing partner played in creating, implementing and legally defending racial segregation in Pasadena.”
The Pasadena Improvement Association was formed in 1939 two weeks after African Americans sued to desegregate the City of Pasadena municipal pool. The stated goal of the Pasadena Improvement Association was to place “race restrictions on all of the Pasadena residential districts now occupied by Caucasians” to prevent non-whites, especially African Americans, from being able to buy most of the homes in Pasadena.

Hampton said that “after years of effort” the Pasadena Improvement Association was able to place race restrictions on most of the residential property in Pasadena.

“We must not forget history. We must learn from history,” Hampton said.

“While the removal of the honors now given to A.I. Stewart and former Hahn & Hahn managing partner Herbert L. Hahn does not relieve the City of the historical wrongs it committed against people of color, it will express our Council’s recognition that these wrongs were committed and that we should not honor people who defile what we stand for. We should also empanel a committee to study the detrimental impacts of the actions of the Pasadena Improvement Association on the Black, Brown and Asian communities.”

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