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Black and a woman, Loretta Thompson-Glickman was a trailblazer

Posted February 1, 2019
By Dennis Haywood

During her political career she made local government more accessible to residents of Northwest Pasadena, resulting in residents becoming more politically astute and more involved in civic affairs. She served on the Pasadena City Council until 1989.

Loretta Thompson-Glickman (May 23, 1945 - March 18, 2001) was the first African-American Mayor of Pasadena, California

It was encouragement and support from a lot of people that made Mrs. Glickman consider a political career. Two of those who urged her on were Paul Law, now a retired Pasadena city employee and businessman, and the Rev. David Scott, who is affiliated with Pasadena's First A.M.E. Church. 

Mrs. Glickman is a former jazz singer in small local clubs, and she toured with the New Christy Minstrels before giving up her career in 1975 to start her family. Two years later she heeded the urgings of Law and Rev. Scott and other neighbors and began campaigning for office as city director from District 3 in Northwest Pasadena, a predominately Black area. She won and was reelected last year. She served as vice mayor for a while before being elected Mayor by her fellow city directors.

The fact that she was the first African-American mayor of such a prominent city was talked about all over the country. The fact that she was a woman also, made the story even more intriguing and it landed Mayor Glickman a spot in Ebony magazine, which was a really big deal at the time. As a matter of fact, there was nothing bigger for a Black person in American than to be in Ebony or Jet magazine.

​Pasadena is so rich in African-American history and Mayor Thompson-Glickman was one of the people I saw early in life that gave me pride and the fortitude to go after my dreams. 

Not only did Mayor Thompson-Glickman make history in Pasadena, but she is on a short list of notable women in the history of Los Angeles County. Other than Delores Hickambottom, there is no woman who has accomplished more on a political level than Thompson-Glickman.

Why the City of Pasadena doesn't honor this lady more is not so much of a mystery. No matter how great the contributions of Black people to this community, We never really get the respect we deserve, but we remember her and we here at the Pasadena Black Pages honor and thank Loretta Thompson-Glickman for breaking down a barrier.

Sources: Ebony Magazine
Jet Magazine