If you need a little reminder that the country has made some progress in matters of race, pay attention to who’s riding on the “inspiring stories” float at the beginning of the Tournament of Roses parade tomorrow.
You’ve probably never heard of Joan Williams, 82. She was an accountant-clerk in City Hall in Pasadena when she was 27, and selected as one of the city employees annually given the honor of riding on the float.
Then officials found out the “light skinned” Williams was black.
She’s never received an apology, the Los Angeles Daily News says.
“It doesn’t mean the same for me in 2015 as it would have in 1958,” she said.
Williams said she had mixed emotions and that she “let this injustice go a long time ago.”
“I want to honor the community and especially the African-American community who were so vocal about feeling the city needed to make an apology,” she said. “It wasn’t a big deal in my life for me to harbor that for the rest of my life.”
She said it was an especially poignant moment amid all of the protests around the country and the slogan “black lives matter.” She said she believed it was a sign that the city wants to move forward.
“When I think on that and when I think about the disrespect shown to me as a young woman by electing me to an honor and to not fulfill it and now allowing me to fulfill it, and how disrespectful that was to me for my feelings, I’m not bitter, I just have a lot of various feelings about it.”
Williams said her three children grew up knowing the story and her four grandchildren asked her about it. They saw the portrait hanging on the wall of their grandma wearing a tiara.
“Now I’m expecting a great-grandchild and now with that great-grandchild when he sits on my lap and I tell the story, it will have a happier ending,” Williams said.