Part 1: Looking back
By Alex Cordero
Let us begin the month of March (aka Women’s History Month) by recognizing the women who have made a difference in Pasadena by sharing some of their stories which bring pride, inspiration and hope into our hearts. This year’s Women’s History Month theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.”
From public education to breaking race barriers, the women of our community created a reputation for tenacity and integrity. The important roles they played marked their place in the history books of the Crown City.
Loretta Thompson-Glickman marked her place in Pasadena history by becoming the first African-American woman elected as Pasadena city director in 1977. She then became the first African-American woman to serve as vice mayor. In 1982, she became the nation’s first African-American female mayor in a city with a population exceeding 100,000. She made headlines across the nation for breaking race and gender barriers. Prestigious African-American magazines like Ebony and Jet featured Loretta and her story. The publicity brought attention to the Crown City.
In an article published by Jet magazine the same year she won the election, Loretta stated that it was wrong to assume she would be a spokesperson for the African-American community: “My reason for being here is not necessarily to be their spokesperson, but to be sure they are being heard and that’s very different.” Loretta broke barriers by getting involved in her community, but most importantly she knew what her community needed. Her political career paved the way for more African-American Pasadena residents to learn about the political process in the city. Loretta was able to bring a positive spotlight to Pasadena. She was an exemplary political figure who paved the way for more women.
Another local woman who has made, and continues to make, a difference in our community goes by the name of Dolores Hickambottom. For decades, Ms. Hickambottom has been an activist for civil rights and women’s rights and an advocate for equal educational opportunities in Pasadena. As a mother of four children, her activism in education began when her children started attending Pasadena schools. Hickambottom, alongside organizations such as the League of Women Voters-Pasadena Area and the NAACP Pasadena Branch, helped support efforts to begin integration in Pasadena public schools.
She has been recognized in our state capitol by government officials as an “Unsung Hero of the Civil Rights Movement” for her activism in social and political issues. Dolores Hickambottom has been making a difference in our community for decades. Her chapter in Pasadena history continues. Ms. Hickambottom, we stand behind you and thank you for your continuous service to our community.
Women’s History Month is just beginning. With the upcoming celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, let us continue honoring Pasadena women who are presently leading our community in their own unique ways.