PASADENA, CA – The 19th Annual Women for Racial Justice Breakfast took place virtually and live online via YouTube. In the past, the Pasadena and Glendale YWCAs have honored racial justice leaders who were part of grassroots movements that physically and outwardly protested against police abuse. Leaders like Jasmine Abdullah and Dr. Melina Abdullah. This year one of the honorees was Nikki Giovonni, who has been outspoken about racial injustice for decades. It took me a minute to understand where the Pasadena NAACP and its leader Allen Edson stood among the previously mentioned female activists.
I had to decipher the title of the award and it made sense because the Pasadena branch and all branches of the NAACP are for racial justice, such as voters' rights and the right to not have to sit on the back of the bus. Right now, the branch is fighting for housing equality and jobs for minorities in the community. That was when I realized the Pasadena NAACP was deserving of the honor because racial justice is what they do. And even though I feel they should have been and still should be outspoken about the murder of Anthony McClain at the hands of Pasadena police officers, I get it, because I was right by their side when the City of Pasadena made the Black Fire Chief step down.
Nevertheless, the work they do in the community in other ways is outstanding and every organization doesn’t have to fight every battle together. So, I had a new understanding that maybe social justice for Anthony McClain simply wasn’t theirs to fight. As a community, we will leave that up to the grassroots organizations like Black Lives Matter Pasadena, My Tribe Rise, Altadena SURJ, Soul Force Project, Compassionate Arts, Alta/Pasa Hope, Ignite Youth, and others who fight for the public lynching of civilian community members to be unacceptable and punishable.
I usually attend the awards in person at the Pasadena Hilton, but like last year, the ceremony was virtual because of Covid-19. This year I set my computer up and viewed it.
When it was Allen Edson’s turn to speak, I was tuned in with my heart knowing that the racial justice I advocate for wouldn’t be a part of his speech. He started with words about the morning. He began to read a statement on behalf of the branch and said they were honored to receive a “social justice” award. I had already separated “racial” from “social” justice and taken the Pasadena branch of the NAACP out of the social justice movement because they weren’t involved in it in the city of Pasadena. Hence, Anthony McClain, JR Thomas. I continued to listen.
Allen announced that the branch had accomplished a lot during the Covid-19 pandemic. The first thing he boasted was that they organized a protest for George Floyd that 3,500 people attended. Then he said they hosted a Juneteenth event that 5,000 people attended. He never mentioned Anthony McClain. George Floyd was 3000 miles away and the next person to be killed by the police in America was in Pasadena and they haven’t mentioned his name.
I wasn’t because I had already come to terms with where the NAACP stands.
I was because he said "social justice" knowing that’s not what they fight while taking credit for a protest crowd that was coming anyway during that time in American history. Edson is being intellectually dishonest asserting leading the protest around city hall. If not for three predominantly white churches’ leadership organizing the first rally, there was a successful model to follow. The country was protesting as a whole, but Anthony McClain is ours and it’s so frustrating that a man shot in the back by the police can’t get as much attention from the NAACP as a fired Fire Chief.