Ticket to ride

Ticket to ride

Pasadena woman denied Miss Crown City perks because of race offered chance to appear in 2015 Rose Parade  

By André Coleman 04/09/2014

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It appears that a former beauty queen all but stripped of her crown 56 years ago after the city discovered she was African American could finally get to appear in the Rose Parade. 

Vice Mayor Jacque Robinson told the Pasadena Weekly she will ask Joan Williams to ride with her during next year’s Rose Parade. 

In 1958 Williams, then 26, was selected by her coworkers at City Hall to represent Pasadena as Miss Crown City, which was a Rose Queen-like honor at the time. As part of her duties, she was scheduled to ride on the city’s float in the Rose Parade, but was denied the honor — along with several public appearances — after city officials discovered the light complexioned Williams was African American.

Williams, who has received several offers to ride on floats in next year’s parade, told the Weekly she had not made up her mind about participating in the event.

“I am mulling it over,” Williams, 82, said. “It is a certainly a wonderful invitation. I am much further along in years than I was in 1958. My children and grandchildren are encouraging me to do it and it is certainly a gracious offer.”

The Pasadena Weekly reported Williams’ story in November. Since that time there have been calls by some in the African-American community for a formal apology from the city to Williams. On Monday, Robinson called on the city to formally apologize to Williams.

“There is no reason why the city should not extend an apology to her,” Robinson told the Weekly. “After reading the article in November, I planned to invite her to ride with me in the parade provided I am reelected vice mayor.” 

Robinson revealed her plans at an awards gala on Saturday night at the Western Justice Center in Pasadena. During the event, Congresswoman Judy Chu presented an award to Williams.

Councilmen John Kennedy, Terry Tornek and Steve Madison were also in attendance.

Former District 4 City Council Candidate Chris Chahinian offered her a spot on his Armenian-themed float, which has already been approved by the tournament. 
“If no one else has you on their float this year, we have the first Armenian float in the parade, and you will be on that float,” Chahinian said. “They can’t keep you from riding on a float this year.” 

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The City and the Tournament of Roses should apologize to her. Back in the day when this happened, the City Board of Directors (Council) were usually honorary Tournament members, and there was an overlap in leadership so they probably both had a role in this petty incident. Pasadena has a sorry history in this arena, and there are still some living wounds from it, such as this one. This lady deserves a seat of honor and a welcome home. Good for Robinson, Kennedy, Tornek, Chahinian and those who address this with an open spirit. Mayor Bogaard, will you join them?

posted by Local on 4/15/14 @ 08:36 p.m.
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