The Good Fight

The Good Fight

Longtime political activist and Pasadena Weekly co-founder Marvin Schachter died early Tuesday morning after being hospitalized with a heart infection at Kaiser Permanente Hospital on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. 

 

Schachter, 90, was involved in one way or another with nearly every major progressive cause since the mid-20th-century — from ending segregation and the Vietnam War to supporting disarmament, equal rights for women and minorities and opposing commercial use of nuclear power as well as American military involvement in Central America, most recently protesting against the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. 

 

At the local level, Schachter, who also regularly wrote columns for the newspaper he helped start more than 30 years ago, devoted much of his time to ensuring senior citizens were cared for, chairing the Pasadena Senior Advocacy Council since 1995 and serving as president of the Advisory Council of the Los Angeles County Area Agency on Aging. He also served on the California Commission on Aging and worked as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. He was also a Menorah Housing Foundation vice president.

 

Schachter is survived by his wife, Esther, daughters Amanda and Pam, and two grandchildren, Max and Emma Rothschild. Family members said plans for a memorial service were not finalized as of Tuesday. 

 

“He was a remarkable person, and an even more remarkable father and grandfather,” Amanda and Pam said in a joint statement to the Pasadena Weekly. “We loved him even more than he loved us.” 

News of Schachter’s death early Tuesday morning left community members in mourning. 

 

ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter President Dick Price called Schachter “an amazing guy” and a good friend to many people.

 

“The last time we saw him he was driving his car to a panel session about fighting government surveillance — tootling down the road to keep Big Brother out of our business. He was doing what he loved to do, right into his 90s,” said Price, who along with Sharon Kyle publishes the online magazine LA Progressive.

“I came to know Marvin because of his commitment to civil liberties — a commitment we shared,” said Kyle, who is also an ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Branch board member. Schachter was a lifetime member of the ACLU of Southern California Board of Directors.

 

“Always generous with his time and just as generous with his stories, his presence at any meeting almost surely meant that a pearl of wisdom would be offered,” Kyle said. “I will really miss Marvin and am proud to call him friend.”

 

Local political leaders and others were saddened to hear of Schachter’s passing.

 

“Pasadena owes much to Marvin Schachter, who was part of the progressive soul of the city and a true guardian of our civil liberties,” said Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. “Marvin was always willing to stand up and fight the good fight — from battling anti-Semitism and ageism to the preservation of Social Security and Medicare. Marvin was always energetic, passionate and thoughtful and brought a world of experience to bear on any issue. He enjoyed universal respect and admiration and will be deeply missed.”

 

“When you look at who has been a leader in aging issues, the name Marvin Schachter is at the top of the list,” said Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden of Pasadena. “Every time I think of senior housing, I think of Marv. He put the issue on the table for policymakers to address in a serious way. He inspired people all over the state to get involved and stand up for what they believe in. Even as he approached his ninth decade, he continued to fight and that has made all the difference. He was a wonderful human being and will be sorely missed.”

 

In recent years, Schachter suffered from hearing loss, but still maintained his zest for social and political engagement.“In the last year or so he became very hard of hearing, and as an inveterate attendee at hundreds of meetings of seniors affairs, of civil liberties, and others, he could barely follow the meetings,” said Kris Ockershauser of the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Branch. “Yet he continued to attend and speak to the issues. I felt it must have been a melancholy time for Marvin, with a lifetime of experience in activism and so much to say on contemporary issues, to understand that his gathering deafness would someday bring an end to it.”

 

Pasadena Weekly columnist and author Ellen Snortland described Schachter as a friend to all.

 

“Marvin Schachter was more than a personal friend to me and to many of us in Southern California,” Snortland said. “He was a friend to humankind and to the vision of what is possible when people pull for one another. Marvin had the big picture; that until all of us had justice, no one really has it. He saw us as a huge human family and he did everything he could do to make us all better.”

 

In October, the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter honored Schachter at their annual Garden Party with a Pioneer of Social Justice Award. In November, the ACLU of Southern California honored Schachter, along with Democratic US Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights Dinner.

 

According to a 2014 story in PW, Schachter’s road to Pasadena and political activism began as a result of an FBI surveillance file prepared on him over his leftist activities when he was a college student in the 1940s. That revelation to his bosses in the 1950s cost him a sales job in Chicago. Schachter instead took an even more lucrative position in clothing sales, which led him and his family to California.

 

“It was totally accidental, thanks to the FBI,” Schachter said.

 

The youngest of four children, Schachter grew up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. He said the tough times of the ’30s were influential years for him in determining the direction of his life. His father was in the retail fur trade and was unemployed much of the time. But even harder times were coming as fascism began rising around the world, with war erupting in Spain and Adolf Hitler seizing power in Germany. Several members of Schachter’s family died in the Holocaust.  

 

Schachter was drafted into the Army in February 1943 and served in military intelligence until his discharge in February 1946. After leaving the service, he followed in the footsteps of his older brothers and attended Brooklyn College, working for civil rights long before that cause came to national attention. During that time, he was active in the American Student Union, a national left-wing organization of college students best known for its protests against militarism. Although he was in high school when he first joined in 1940, Schachter became a member of the ASU’s national board at the age of 15, which led to the FBI opening a file on him.

 

By the late 1960s, Schachter was in Pasadena and supporting efforts to bring racial equality to local schools. 

 

“Pasadena has a real heritage,” Schachter once said of the city in the early 1960s, when the John Birch Society enjoyed a wide following, the American Nazi Party had set up shop in nearby El Monte and the Southern-based White Citizens Council, a group somewhat overlapping with the Ku Klux Klan, tried to establish a foothold in the San Gabriel Valley.

 

Schachter supported a successful federal lawsuit filed by Jim and Bobbie Spangler, along with Skipper and Pat Rostker and Wilton and Dorothy Clarke, against the Pasadena Unified School District, aimed at forcing desegregation of local schools.

 

“The story of Pasadena is one of a city that was liberal in some ways, but it’s also one of a city run by white businessmen with a large disenfranchised minority community,” Schachter once remarked. As a result, Schachter told the Weekly, “Pasadena was a bastion of white supremacy.” 

 

“Marvin Schachter was a clarion voice for peace, justice and equality,” said Mayor Bill Bogaard. “He advocated for seniors, the poor, and for persons needing housing and health services. His death seems extremely sudden to me because, notwithstanding his advanced age, he was still active in pursuing important social values. We will miss his inspiration to make the world a better place.”

 

Robert Nelson, a retired JPL scientist and a longtime member of the ACLU, said Schachter will be remembered as a “master teacher.”

 

“He was the ‘go-to guy’ for younger people to seek out when we needed advice in the struggle for peace, justice, dignity and decency,” said Nelson. “He leaves behind at least four generations of successors who were the beneficiaries of his wisdom. His lessons were well received by so many because they were taught with such a profound spirit of kindness. He was the closest we will ever get to having a ‘philosopher king.’”

 

Former PW Deputy Editor Joe Piasecki said Schachter had a profound effect on him as a journalist.

 

“Marvin’s political savvy was surpassed only by the empathy and compassion through which he viewed politics,” said Piasecki, who is now managing editor of The Argonaut, a sister newspaper of PW. “He was not only my conscience, but the conscience of Pasadena as a whole. The world is a better place because of Marvin, but I’m not sure what we’ll do without him.”


PW Editor Kevin Uhrich and PW Arts Writer Carl Kozlowski contributed to this report.


The Good Fight

Longtime political activist and Pasadena Weekly co-founder Marvin Schachter died early Tuesday morning after being hospitalized with a heart infection at Kaiser Permanente Hospital on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. 

 

Schachter, 90, was involved in one way or another with nearly every major progressive cause since the mid-20th-century — from ending segregation and the Vietnam War to supporting disarmament, equal rights for women and minorities and opposing commercial use of nuclear power as well as American military involvement in Central America, most recently protesting against the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. 

 

At the local level, Schachter, who also regularly wrote columns for the newspaper he helped start more than 30 years ago, devoted much of his time to ensuring senior citizens were cared for, chairing the Pasadena Senior Advocacy Council since 1995 and serving as president of the Advisory Council of the Los Angeles County Area Agency on Aging. He also served on the California Commission on Aging and worked as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. He was also a Menorah Housing Foundation vice president.

 

Schachter is survived by his wife, Esther, daughters Amanda and Pam, and two grandchildren, Max and Emma Rothschild. Family members said plans for a memorial service were not finalized as of Tuesday. 

 

“He was a remarkable person, and an even more remarkable father and grandfather,” Amanda and Pam said in a joint statement to the Pasadena Weekly. “We loved him even more than he loved us.” 

News of Schachter’s death early Tuesday morning left community members in mourning. 

 

ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter President Dick Price called Schachter “an amazing guy” and a good friend to many people.

 

“The last time we saw him he was driving his car to a panel session about fighting government surveillance — tootling down the road to keep Big Brother out of our business. He was doing what he loved to do, right into his 90s,” said Price, who along with Sharon Kyle publishes the online magazine LA Progressive.

“I came to know Marvin because of his commitment to civil liberties — a commitment we shared,” said Kyle, who is also an ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Branch board member. Schachter was a lifetime member of the ACLU of Southern California Board of Directors.

 

“Always generous with his time and just as generous with his stories, his presence at any meeting almost surely meant that a pearl of wisdom would be offered,” Kyle said. “I will really miss Marvin and am proud to call him friend.”

 

Local political leaders and others were saddened to hear of Schachter’s passing.

 

“Pasadena owes much to Marvin Schachter, who was part of the progressive soul of the city and a true guardian of our civil liberties,” said Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. “Marvin was always willing to stand up and fight the good fight — from battling anti-Semitism and ageism to the preservation of Social Security and Medicare. Marvin was always energetic, passionate and thoughtful and brought a world of experience to bear on any issue. He enjoyed universal respect and admiration and will be deeply missed.”

 

“When you look at who has been a leader in aging issues, the name Marvin Schachter is at the top of the list,” said Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden of Pasadena. “Every time I think of senior housing, I think of Marv. He put the issue on the table for policymakers to address in a serious way. He inspired people all over the state to get involved and stand up for what they believe in. Even as he approached his ninth decade, he continued to fight and that has made all the difference. He was a wonderful human being and will be sorely missed.”

 

In recent years, Schachter suffered from hearing loss, but still maintained his zest for social and political engagement.“In the last year or so he became very hard of hearing, and as an inveterate attendee at hundreds of meetings of seniors affairs, of civil liberties, and others, he could barely follow the meetings,” said Kris Ockershauser of the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Branch. “Yet he continued to attend and speak to the issues. I felt it must have been a melancholy time for Marvin, with a lifetime of experience in activism and so much to say on contemporary issues, to understand that his gathering deafness would someday bring an end to it.”

 

Pasadena Weekly columnist and author Ellen Snortland described Schachter as a friend to all.

 

“Marvin Schachter was more than a personal friend to me and to many of us in Southern California,” Snortland said. “He was a friend to humankind and to the vision of what is possible when people pull for one another. Marvin had the big picture; that until all of us had justice, no one really has it. He saw us as a huge human family and he did everything he could do to make us all better.”

 

In October, the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter honored Schachter at their annual Garden Party with a Pioneer of Social Justice Award. In November, the ACLU of Southern California honored Schachter, along with Democratic US Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights Dinner.

 

According to a 2014 story in PW, Schachter’s road to Pasadena and political activism began as a result of an FBI surveillance file prepared on him over his leftist activities when he was a college student in the 1940s. That revelation to his bosses in the 1950s cost him a sales job in Chicago. Schachter instead took an even more lucrative position in clothing sales, which led him and his family to California.

 

“It was totally accidental, thanks to the FBI,” Schachter said.

 

The youngest of four children, Schachter grew up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. He said the tough times of the ’30s were influential years for him in determining the direction of his life. His father was in the retail fur trade and was unemployed much of the time. But even harder times were coming as fascism began rising around the world, with war erupting in Spain and Adolf Hitler seizing power in Germany. Several members of Schachter’s family died in the Holocaust.  

 

Schachter was drafted into the Army in February 1943 and served in military intelligence until his discharge in February 1946. After leaving the service, he followed in the footsteps of his older brothers and attended Brooklyn College, working for civil rights long before that cause came to national attention. During that time, he was active in the American Student Union, a national left-wing organization of college students best known for its protests against militarism. Although he was in high school when he first joined in 1940, Schachter became a member of the ASU’s national board at the age of 15, which led to the FBI opening a file on him.

 

By the late 1960s, Schachter was in Pasadena and supporting efforts to bring racial equality to local schools. 

 

“Pasadena has a real heritage,” Schachter once said of the city in the early 1960s, when the John Birch Society enjoyed a wide following, the American Nazi Party had set up shop in nearby El Monte and the Southern-based White Citizens Council, a group somewhat overlapping with the Ku Klux Klan, tried to establish a foothold in the San Gabriel Valley.

 

Schachter supported a successful federal lawsuit filed by Jim and Bobbie Spangler, along with Skipper and Pat Rostker and Wilton and Dorothy Clarke, against the Pasadena Unified School District, aimed at forcing desegregation of local schools.

 

“The story of Pasadena is one of a city that was liberal in some ways, but it’s also one of a city run by white businessmen with a large disenfranchised minority community,” Schachter once remarked. As a result, Schachter told the Weekly, “Pasadena was a bastion of white supremacy.” 

 

“Marvin Schachter was a clarion voice for peace, justice and equality,” said Mayor Bill Bogaard. “He advocated for seniors, the poor, and for persons needing housing and health services. His death seems extremely sudden to me because, notwithstanding his advanced age, he was still active in pursuing important social values. We will miss his inspiration to make the world a better place.”

 

Robert Nelson, a retired JPL scientist and a longtime member of the ACLU, said Schachter will be remembered as a “master teacher.”

 

“He was the ‘go-to guy’ for younger people to seek out when we needed advice in the struggle for peace, justice, dignity and decency,” said Nelson. “He leaves behind at least four generations of successors who were the beneficiaries of his wisdom. His lessons were well received by so many because they were taught with such a profound spirit of kindness. He was the closest we will ever get to having a ‘philosopher king.’”

 

Former PW Deputy Editor Joe Piasecki said Schachter had a profound effect on him as a journalist.

 

“Marvin’s political savvy was surpassed only by the empathy and compassion through which he viewed politics,” said Piasecki, who is now managing editor of The Argonaut, a sister newspaper of PW. “He was not only my conscience, but the conscience of Pasadena as a whole. The world is a better place because of Marvin, but I’m not sure what we’ll do without him.”


PW Editor Kevin Uhrich and PW Arts Writer Carl Kozlowski contributed to this report.


The good fight

The good fight
Art Aids Art, the Altadena-based nonprofit organization that collaborates with and empowers poverty stricken women in a South Africa township has teamed up with LA-based artist Robbie Conal for the release of a special edition poster featuring Nelson Mandela, who died last week in Johannesburg at age 95.
Conal is known for his infamous street “Art Attacks” addressing war, social injustice and environmental issues. The collaboration was inspired by the upcoming 20th anniversary of Mandela’s inauguration as South Africa’s first democratically elected president, a culmination of his life’s work for racial equality.
“The printed posters happened to arrive on the day of his passing,” said Dorothy Garcia, co-founder of Art Aids Art, which will distribute 5,000 posters throughout South Africa in Mandela’s honor. It is expected to be one of the largest public art projects in South African history. 
In Khayelitsha, located in the city of Cape Town, “The response [to Mandela’s death] was one of overwhelming grief and loss, for so many people regard him as a father,” said Art Aids Art co-founder Tom Harding. “But there has also been celebration of a life well lived in the spirit of ‘ubuntu,’ the southern African value that translates to ‘there is no me without you.’ Our endeavor is to provide local residents with an image of ‘Tata Madiba,’ as he is affectionately known, a reminder of the spirit he embodies — hope, unity, dignity, perseverance — and a tangible object to proudly display, a symbol of the love so many feel in their hearts.”
On Friday, Conal and about 200 volunteers gathered at Canter’s Deli on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles to conduct his latest Art Attack, which consisted of plastering the city with about 800 of the Mandela posters. During Conal’s instructions on how to glue the posters to various surfaces, three LAPD officers showed up to speak with the artist. They read his meeting announcement online and knew what the group planned to do, which they told Conal was illegal without a permit. Conal gave the cops posters and told the group to plaster the posters in other municipalities. 
“Aren’t there, unfortunately, many more egregious infractions of the law to protect our citizenry from than a motley rainbow gaggle of grieving yet enthusiastic citizens putting up celebratory images of one of the greatest freedom fighters and inspirational statesmen who ever lived the night after he passed away?” Conal asked.
Larger than life
Following the news of Mandela’s death, there was an outpouring of support online from just about everybody, including local community leaders.
 
“Few can be described as changing the course of history — Nelson Mandela is one of them,” said Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). “We have lost a leader who guided his people and nation from the evils of apartheid and towards a brighter future as the ‘rainbow nation.’ The true measure of his greatness was his extraordinary magnanimity and lack of bitterness towards those who had imprisoned him for a seeming eternity. When he emerged from Victor Verster prison in 1990 and for the rest of his life, Mandela preached peace and reconciliation. His example and towering moral authority were enough to prevent a bloodbath during the early 1990s. South Africa’s peaceful evolution is due in large measure to his outsized influence. One of the true giants of the last century is gone.”
Mandela was indeed a larger-than-life figure with a seemingly inhuman capacity for forgiveness and compassion. After he spent 27 years in South African prisons he negotiated with his captors to bring a peaceful end to apartheid and avoid a civil war that nearly everyone felt was inevitable.
 
While in South Africa last year to see Art Aids Art in action, the Pasadena Weekly traveled to Robben Island to see Mandela’s prison cell. The island guide took the tour group to the limestone quarry where Mandela worked for 13 years. The limestone is so bright that it blinded many prisoners, and indeed for the rest of his life people were not allowed to take flash pictures of Mandela because his tear ducts had dried out. He was also unable to cry. 
The resistance leaders, including Mandela, were held in the maximum-security building, separated in their own cells. The guide said there were four main activities  the prisoners would do when they were left alone by the guards: political education and analysis; stealing and reading newspapers; cultural activities like dancing, songs of freedom, stage plays and standup comedy; and literacy education, because about half the prison’s population was illiterate.  
In the maximum-security wing is Mandela’s former cell, a heartbreakingly small, plain space to spend the better part of two decades. Mandela had told the guide on one of his 14 trips back to the island since his release that one of the hardest parts of his prison experience was not being able to see children, and that there is no way to explain how disheartening that was for him.
 
Empty gesture
In the 1980s in Pasadena, there were perceived economic reasons to continue to support the oppressive South African regime. Pasadena was one of the first cities that took formal steps to divest from South Africa during apartheid, but as former Mayor Bill Paparian pointed out, it was an empty gesture at first. In 1986 the then-Board of City Directors, as the City Council was known, adopted an ordinance banning city investment in companies that did business with South Africa. However, the city itself did not have any investments with such companies. 
 
“The ordinance had no application at all because there were no investments in companies doing business in South Africa,” said Paparian. “It was an empty-suited policy.”
Paparian was elected to the board in 1987 and started asking questions about the divestment policy. When he pointed out that the Fire and Police Retirement Board had stocks related to South Africa, he said the old guard at City Hall became uncomfortable.
 
“There were enough investments with South Africa to make people uncomfortable,” he said. “Ultimately we prevailed and the divestment policy was applied to the retirement fund.”
The concern by some was that divestment from South Africa would mean losing money or jeopardizing investments. In fact, the retirement board refused to sell their South Africa-related stocks for two years for that very reason, according to an Oct. 6, 1988 article in the LA Times. The city ordered the pension board to divest and sell the stocks within a year. Paparian said at the time that even if divestment would mean a loss in profits the city should be willing to bear that burden rather than support companies that deal with an openly racist government.
“That is the price you pay for taking a principled position,” Paparian is quoted as saying in the article.
Fellow City Director Rick Cole agreed. 
“It seems real simple to me,” Cole is also quoted as saying. “Maybe we can make more money, but that’s not the type of profits I want any part of.”
Cole also went on to become mayor of Pasadena.
“I’m reminded that Nelson Mandela was a global humanitarian,” said Paparian. “As an Armenian I remember when he was invited to Turkey to receive the Atatürk Peace Prize in 1992 and he refused to go because of Turkey’s abysmal human rights record. It’s important to remember that not only did he courageously lead the way for the liberation of the indigenous people of South Africa, but he was also a human rights champion globally.” n
For more information on Art Aids Art’s Mandela poster project, visit artaidsart.org.

The good fight

The good fight
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, will receive the Andrew Escajeda Humanitarian Award from the Pasadena Public Health Department at a 5:30 p.m. ceremony today at City Hall marking World AIDS Day.
 
Portantino, according to a statement released by the city, has worked to create greater community awareness about prevention and treatment of the disease and the availability of HIV/AIDS services. His office partnered with the city Health Department recently to offer free HIV testing, and the assemblyman hosted the annual HIV/AIDS Action Summit at City of Hope Hospital in Duarte in September. 
 
Portantino also has personal connections to the fight against the disease. His brother, Michael Portantino, was publisher of the Gay & Lesbian Times, which devoted free advertising to AIDS-related issues, and Dr. Michael Gottlieb, the husband of Wendy Gordon, Portantino’s communications director, was one of the first doctors to officially identify the disease in 1981.
 
“The Pasadena Health Department is a terrific partner and it has been a pleasure to pool our resources,” Portantino said in a prepared statement. “Together we have worked toward increasing available information and creating strategies that can be used to prevent and fight this disease.”

The good fight

The good fight

Some consider a plan to honor two local boxing legends instead of just one a good compromise, but not everyone is happy with the deal brokered by City Councilman Victor Gordo.

Under that plan, the city will allow the placement of a privately financed statue honoring the achievements of trainer Canto “TNT” Robledo at Villa-Parke Community Center, and then rename the facility’s boxing gym for fellow trainer Eddie Johnson, who did most of his work at that gym until his death in 2000.

Robledo, who was blinded during a fight in 1932 but went on to train several top-ranked fighters at his Crown City Gym on Manzanita Street, died the previous year following a stroke.

“I am OK with it,” Canto’s son, Joe Robledo, said of Gordo’s proposal. “If they want to put Eddie Johnson’s name on the ring canvas or rename the gym after him, I am happy with that — as long as there is no interference with the statue of Canto Robledo.”

However, Charles “Buddy” Bereal, former head of the Pasadena Branch of the NAACP and a onetime professional fighter, said he believes placing the statue at the Villa-Parke Community Center gives the wrong impression about Canto Robledo’s actual involvement there.

The statue is expected to cost some $100,000 and, according to drawings, will depict Robledo interacting with two young children.

Bereal was not part of the talks conducted by Gordo. “Pasadena is one of the coldest cities when it comes to the treatment of African-Americans. I am happy they are going to name the gym after Eddie. He deserves it,” Bereal said. “They should have named Manzanita Park after Canto.”
Renaming the park was Joe Robledo’s first idea after the Mexican-American History Association met with him to discuss ways to commemorate his father’s contributions to the city.

However, the city rejected that idea and soon afterward began discussions on erecting a statue. Over the past year, Robledo family members have been privately raising funds for the project.

Both Canto Robledo and Johnson trained fighters in the 1960s and ’70s, a time when interest in local fighting was at an all-time high, due in part to televised fights at the Olympic Auditorium and other venues.

The controversy started when Johnson’s supporters became upset after reading an article in the Pasadena Weekly in which city officials stated that Villa-Parke would be the best place to put a statue of Robledo.

Robledo lost his sight shortly after winning the Pacific Bantamweight Championship and became a trainer, running Crown City Boxing out of his garage on Manzanita Street, about five miles from Villa-Parke.

The statue would be the first honoring a Mexican-American in Pasadena and the first donated to the city by a family. So far, Robledo family members say they have raised more than $10,000 for the statue through concerts and fundraisers.

Joe Robledo is scheduled to meet with Public Works Director Martin Pastucha on Tuesday to discuss the statue’s dimensions.

Johnson supporters point out that Robledo never had any connection to the city’s program, which was started by Johnson and Bereal almost 35 years ago, when the neighborhoods surrounding Villa-Parke were populated largely by African-American families.

“We finally came to a consensus and we compromised,” said Tim Rhambo, who was trained by Johnson and now volunteers at Villa-Parke. “Canto was on the other side of town, and that’s OK, that’s fine.” But, he said, “Eddie Johnson was here working for the city and working with a lot of the youth. How can we honor this guy and not honor one of our guys who was here helping the kids?”
After being turned down on a proposed name change of Manzanita Park, the Robledo family had hopes of placing the statue in Memorial Park, in Old Pasadena. However, city officials soon told them only war memorials are allowed there, and that they would have to come up with yet another plan.

At that point, Interim City Manager Bernard Melekian, while on business in Fresno, saw a statue there commemorating “Gentleman” Jack Dempsey. Melekian was impressed by how youngsters still looked at the statue and suggested that the Robledo memorial be placed at Villa-Parke, where the adjacent neighborhoods are now largely inhabited by Latino families.

“If we are going to build the statue of someone famous from the Mexican-American community, what better place to put it than the place where the kids in the local boxing program can draw from its inspiration,” Melekian told the Weekly in July.

Rachel Heredia, secretary of the Pasadena Mexican-American History Association, said she and other members of the organization were pleased with the compromise.

“It is fine with us. We never had any negative feelings about them wanting to do something for Eddie Johnson,” Heredia said. “The only thing we didn’t like is they said they did not want the statue there. Canto is a great role model for the youth there. As Mexican-Americans, we feel we can leave something that shows the history of Mexican-Americans in the city. There is nothing in Pasadena that shows that Mexican-Americans have lived in this community.”

Gordo said he was heartened to see people now recognizing Canto Robledo’s contributions to boxing and Pasadena.

“He overcame a lot of personal and physical obstacles and found a way through boxing to contribute to a lot of people in Pasadena,” Gordo said of Canto. “In short, he’s a Pasadenan we can be proud of. The same can be said of Eddie Johnson. He overcame a lot and persevered and his legacy continues today at Villa-Parke, and we should use their efforts to inspire others.”

Subscribe Here


Subscribe to get Pasadena Weekly Digital Edition, emails and newsletters delivered weekly in your email inbox.

 


For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website at https://pasadenaweekly.com/privacy-policy/

By clicking to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Digital Editions