Despite the hot weather Saturday, the Pasadena community turned out for the 34th annual Black History Parade and Festival, which featured food trucks, music and PCC students and administrators.

Katja Liebing/Courier - A dancers performs during the 34th annual Black History Parade in Pasadena on Saturday, February 20, 2016.
Katja Liebing/Courier –
A dancers performs during the 34th annual Black History Parade in Pasadena on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

As one of the oldest and longest parades for Black History Month in the U.S., the Black History Celebration Planning Committee wanted to honor past leaders of the community who continue to inspire a new generation of future leaders.

“Our theme is ‘footprints in the past, stepping stones to the future’,” said Jackie Robinson Community Center supervisor Jarvis Emerson in an interview with KPAS TV, Pasadena’s media channel.

The parade started at 10 a.m. at Charles White Park in Altadena and ended at Robinson Park on Fair Oaks Avenue where there were activities and vendors set up.

As it began, it was evident that spectators were taking the theme to heart, cheering on the youth participating in the parade and greeting community leaders with “good mornings” and “how are yous.”

The parade started off with several motorcyclists leading the way for the Blair High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. Following closely behind were prominent city officials including Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek and Vice Mayor Gene Masuda.

“It’s really a privilege to participate in it,” said Tornek.

PCC students and faculty also participated in the first half of the parade. PCC’s drum corps marched before a crowd of spectators, followed by Superintendent-President Dr. Rajen Vurdien. Vurdien, who was riding in the back of a car, often had the driver stop to hand out PCC bags to spectators along the parade route.

Students and faculty from PCC’s Ujima program, which enhances the community college experience for black students, were next.

“It’s important for our students to be because of hope for our community,” said Ujima program coordinator and counselor Gena Lopez.

The Ujima students wore their “Straight out of Ujima” t-shirts and enthusiastically engaged the crowd.

“This is a good program and it needs to be in [the parade],” said David Lopez, a Ujima member.

However, the spectators’ favorite parts of the parade were the drum corps and cheer groups, of which there were several. The crowd was enthusiastic, often for cheer groups that performed dance routines, such as the Cowgirl’s Drill Team, a team started in 1979. The group of girls performed a dance routine to the beat of a drum squad that followed closely behind.

Another popular group was the Pasadena High School Bulldog Marching Band, which placed second last year in the parade. The marching band also had a cheer team that accompanied them and performed a dance.

Despite the popularity of the band corps and dance teams, the spectators were also eager to greet prominent organizations in the community that participated in the parade.

Among them were several sororities and fraternities, such as the Eta Pi Lambda Fraternity—the first and oldest collegiate organization for African Americans, the Aids Healthcare Foundation, and Girl Scouts Troop 3246, who not only marched in the parade, but also sold Girl Scout cookies.

After the parade, spectators could buy food—such as crawfish—from vendors, browse the various booths and listen to several musicians from a stage set up near Robinson Park.

More photos in Gallery of Black History Month here.

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