In 1997, Pasadena Police Officer Rodney D. Wallace, held the first Black History Month luncheon in a conference room at the Pasadena Police Department.
The lunch was small, as was the turn out – but it was a first step.
Twenty-three years later, on February 20th, in a large hall inside of the Robinson Park Recreation Center, Wallace watched as a couple hundred of people showed up for what was now the Annual Black History Breakfast.
This year’s event had guest speakers, pancakes being made by the Pasadena Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 809, live dancing, raffles and a litany of local sponsors who helped turn the breakfast into a celebration.
It was a sight to see for Wallace, who could still remember the simple lunches at the Pasadena PD.
“This all started with a couple of members of the Pasadena Police Department. It started out as a lunch, a special soul food luncheon. We all cooked and brought everything to a room at the police building” said Wallace, who retired from the Pasadena PD in 2013. “We used to have African art on the walls and we would talk about the accomplishments of those before us. “
The 23rd Annual Black History Breakfast was sponsored by the National Organization of Black Enforcement Executives (N.O.B.L.E), Pasadena Fire Fighters Association Local 809, The Pasadena Police Relief Association and the Pasadena Black Municipal (PBMEA.)
The Masters of Ceremonies was Spectrum News 1 reporter Ryann Blackshere Vargas, who also moderated a round table discussion between Michele Beal Bagneris, City Attorney for the City of Pasadena and Laura Farber, President of Tournament of Roses 2019-2020, who spoke on their own experiences with cultural identity, mentorship and reaching out to the diverse community.