Last week I received a call from a woman named Sheryl, whom I didn't know. She told me she had a nonprofit and wanted to meet. Usually, I would ask what about, but something in me said to just accept her invitation and see what she wanted to talk about when we met. Before we got off the phone she told me I could bring someone else to the meeting if I wanted.
On Sunday I sent James Farr a text asking if he could meet me to talk to Sheryl. He didn't ask any questions and agreed to meet me there.
Personally, I thought she would want to talk about the documentary, Thorns on the Rose: Black Abuse, Corruption & the Pasadena Police. I had gotten several new friend requests from different types of people in the past couple of days after the film's release, so her request didn't seem unusual.
When I got to the meeting place and met Sheryl Turner for the first time. She was a woman I knew was about business from the onset. She handed us agendas and let us know what was on her mind.
First, she told me about the Pasadena Media Foundation whose mission is to build a sustainable financial future for Pasadena-area news and information organizations, which are essential for democracy to function, and to promote high-quality local journalism within the community.
Sheryl told me that she had given the first grant to Pasadena Now and the pandemic had stalled things. Then she saw the trailer for the film and she saw that the proceeds were going back to the community and she liked that. So the Pasadena Black Pages were the recipients of the Pasadena Media Foundations second grant.
I told Sheryl that I would be putting the money into the Anthony McClain fund and she told me she wasn't done. She made it clear that her main concern is keeping local media alive and she knows that it's not easy to do, so she was adamant about me keeping the grant for the Pasadena Black Pages because she was also donating to the Anthony McClain Scholarship fund through another nonprofit she has called Friends of the Miracle Mile, and she wrote checks on the spot.
After she was done with me, Sheryl wrote a check from the Pasadena Media Group for James and his local media show, The Conversation Live.
Personally, I was pleasantly shocked, I had just had a meeting with Allen Edson of the Pasadena NAACP a few days earlier and he called the film "noise" and basically dismissed the option of them getting behind the film to invoke change in this community. He opened the mail and fell asleep while he watched the film. I was upset by his disrespect of a black man as a black man, but I held my composure and left the meeting with him because I realized that his/their backing is irrelevant because he doesn't even live in this community. The problems here don't affect him and the Pasadena NAACP is faux community leadership.
Not 10 minutes after I got home, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize, and I usually don't answer those calls, because I keep getting this crazy message with an Asian lady talking. I answered and it was Sheryl.
So as I sat with this white woman who respected the plight of the Pasadena Black Pages enough to support monetarily, even though she doesn't agree with everything we publish. It was an awakening for me and it made me realize that I have to go even harder, because not only do I have to fight for my people and social justice, I have to do it while fighting off some of them who are pulling my coattail while I'm trying to get us over the wall to be seen and heard. There is a lot of pain in Northwest Pasadena and it has to be exposed for us to make a change. The fake have to be exposed as well if they aren't capable of leading.
Our goal is to enhance the path of a worthy young adult on their way to college. As the scholarship grows, so will the opportunities for the lucky student who receives it. We need to breed our future leaders and vet our current ones a little better.
Scholarship requirements are as follows:
1. Must be an African American graduating in 2021.
2. Must attend Pasadena, Muir, Marshall, Blair, or Rose City High Schools.
3. 500-word essay about how you feel about the film “Thorns on the Rose: Black Abuse, Corruption & the Pasadena Police, and what steps would you take to make police and community relationships better.
4. Copy of last report card.
5. What programs were you involved in during the last full year of regular school, and what are your plans after high school?