The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday attacked the all-white-male leadership of Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses and threatened to lead a counter parade on New Year’s Day.
Speaking at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, the civil rights leader said that having the tournament run by the current executive committee is “the same arrangement we found in Birmingham in ’63" when black leaders led marches to end segregation.
“I can only say that in Pasadena, for Rose Bowl ’94, there will be a counter parade for justice and fairness, declaring an end to racism and sexism, and it will not be a Doo-Dah Parade,” he said, referring an annual lighthearted spoof of the Rose Parade.
Jackson compared the tournament leadership to those who drafted the U.S. Constitution without taking into account the rights of those who were held in slavery and to the U.S. Supreme Court, which once legalized segregation in schools and other public places.
The church rally occurred as Pasadena residents were still galvanized by charges by black leaders that the Tournament of Roses practices de facto discrimination and that the city has allowed it to do so.
Black leaders of the Ad Hoc Committee to End Discrimination say that, because the city “subsidizes” the tournament, it also is responsible for the tournament’s “racial exclusion.” The tournament denies that it receives subsidies, saying that in the past year it has adopted a series of measures to widen participation by women and minorities.
A report by a City Council-appointed panel of lawyers and accountants two weeks ago sought to untangle the complicated business dealings between the tournament and the city in the past 95 years.
The city and the tournament have worked so closely in staging the event that “there has been an attitude that what’s good for Pasadena is good for the tournament, and vice versa,” said former State Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, who headed the panel.
This sometimes has resulted in “the appearance of impropriety,” Reynoso said.
He cited in particular a 1984 contract between the city and the tournament, which critics have described as too favorable for the volunteer organization, in part because it granted long-term use of city property for no compensation.
Although the city and the tournament share expenses and revenue from the annual Rose Parade and Rose Bowl football game, the panel said, the tournament owes the city almost $500,000 because of accounting mistakes.