Local Tongva Tribe Elder and Community Activist Julia ‘Wiseone’ Bogany Dies at 72

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Now, 4/13/2021

Julia Louise “Wiseone” Bogany, a teacher, activist and member of the local indigenous Tongva tribe, passed away on March 28 at Redlands Community Hospital due to complications associated with a stroke that she suffered on March 7. She was 72.

GoFundMe page was set up to help cover medical and funeral bills, which raised $75,890 out of a $65,000 goal, as of April 8. Bogany is survived by her husband Andrew, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, as well as four children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Leftover funds will go to support Andrew’s care.

“Our beloved Julia has gone to meet her father in heaven this morning,” Joseph Aranda, organizer of the GoFundMe page, wrote on March 28. “God bless you Julia and thank you for all that you have done for us! We truly love and will miss you!”

Aranda announced that Bogany’s funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 17, followed by burial at approximately 11:15 a.m. at Mt. View Mortuary & Cemetery, 570 E. Highland Ave., San Bernardino. Due to the pandemic, there will be a capacity restriction of 65 people inside the chapel, with family taking priority for the indoor service followed by first come availability. Remaining attendees will be directed to wait at the burial site or outside the chapel. The service will also be livestreamed. Aranda will post the livestream link on the GoFundMe page soon.

“I always say Tongva women never left their ancestral homeland, they just became invisible,” Bogany was quoted as saying on her website ToBeVisible.org. “‘How do we make ourselves not invisible?’ is the question I ask every day.”

Bogany was a member of the Tongva Tribal Council and served as the tribe’s cultural consultant. She was dedicated to the teaching, revitalization and visibility of Tongva language and culture throughout the San Gabriel Valley and surrounding communities, which she did for more than 30 years. She was an elder-in-residence who taught native culture and history and women’s issues at the Claremont Colleges, including Scripps, Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer and the Claremont School of Theology. She worked to “reawaken and revive the Tongva language, as well as assemble a Tongva dictionary,” according to her website.

Bogany is well known throughout the Southland for her work. At Cal State, Dominguez Hills, there is a 47-foot mural of her. She was president of Kuruvanga Springs, a representative for California tribes on Route 66 and a member of the California Native American College board. She also served as vice president of the Keepers of Indigenous Ways, a nonprofit group of the Tongva, and president of Residential Motivators, her own nonprofit consulting firm.

In November, Bogany delivered a virtual talk hosted by the Pasadena Public Library about the Tongva people’s history and culture, one of the last events of her storied career.

Kimberly Morales Johnson, Bogany’s cousin and a fellow Tribal Council member, told LAist that Bogany “would start sometimes at 5 o’clock in the morning and not get home until 10 o’clock at night. Just all on her quest to make sure that people knew who the Gabrielino-Tongva were, and that we are still here, and that we still exist.”

Archeologists estimate that the Tongva have been in Southern California since between 4,500 to 10,000 years ago. For their homes, tribe members built thatched dome structures called Kiiy using poles, white willow and tule-reeds in the LA Basin, including along the banks of the seasonal Arroyo Seco and throughout the San Gabriel Valley, as well as on the Channel Islands. Coastal and island tribes made their Kiiy out of whale ribs and reeds.

“The Arroyo Seco was really the cradle of civilization for Indians that inhabited Pasadena and South Pasadena,” South Pasadena City Librarian Steve Fjeldsted told this reporter in 2013. “It not only gave them their water but was also part of their trade and travel routes. Of course, later it became one of the first routes between Pasadena and Los Angeles.”

Tongva tribe members lived throughout modern-day Los Angeles County, in a territory totaling more than 2,500 square miles. An estimated 2,000 descendants still live in the area today. Because of their location near the ocean and between other Native American groups, the Tongva traded with neighbors based on an economy of acorns, clamshell beads and wild plant foods.

According to Tongva educator Craig Torres, the name Tongva “comes from a word in our language which means ‘the earth’ or ‘the land’ or ‘one’s landscape,’ so it translates to ‘people of the earth.’”

According to Bogany’s website, the Tongva, later named Gabrielinos by the Spaniards, “lived in communities based on family ties, a notion that is still important to the Gabrielino-Tongva today. Multiple communities organized themselves into larger groups that governed social, political and economic interactions. The Gabrielino-Tongva were primarily hunter-gatherers who changed location within the seasons, while the communities on the islands and coastline used canoes, called Tiats, to go deep-sea fishing. The Gabrielino-Tongva people have a rich oral history full of legends and stories.”

Their language had Uto-Aztecan roots and they “were the source of the jimsonweed cult, a widely practiced Southern California religion that involved various sacred and esoteric rituals and the drinking of toloache, a hallucinogen made from the jimsonweed (Datura stramonium),” according to Britannica. “Each Gabrielino village had a hereditary chief; shamanism was an important part of Gabrielino religion and healing practices.”

They also made baskets, and according to LAist, Bogany consulted with artists on public art projects such as the Metro Gold Line Bridge built over the 210 freeway between Pasadena and Arcadia in 2010, which “has support columns that emulate Gabrielino-Tongva baskets.”

When Spanish explorers began colonizing the area in the 18th century, Native American culture was absorbed by the missionaries. California became a Mexican province when Mexico won independence from Spain. According to the definitive historical text by Jane Apostol, “South Pasadena: A Centennial History,” very few Native Americans received shares of land “when the property once controlled by the missions was given away in huge land grants on which ranchos were established.” Most of present-day Altadena, Pasadena, San Marino and South Pasadena formed the boundaries of Rancho San Pasqual.

According to KCRW, “when the Spanish arrived in Southern California in the late 1700s, life as the Tongva knew it was over. From that point on, the history of the Tongva and of all indigenous people in California, is an incredibly painful one — wrought with stories of mass killing, stolen land and stolen identity. The Spanish settlers arrived and built the Mission San Gabriel in 1781. Thousands of Tongva were forced to leave their villages to work and live in the Missions. The missionaries collectively called all natives ‘Gabrielinos.’ The Tongva and other tribes were baptized, forced to give up their language and their culture. The tribes fought back fiercely. But as bad as things were under the Spanish, the slaughter only increased when California became a state in 1850.”

But much of that history is largely unknown by most Californians. That’s why Bogany “consulted with and trained teachers and school boards on how to revise their curriculum to reflect the correct history of California and California tribes,” according to her website.

It wasn’t until 1994 that California state law finally recognized the Gabrielino-Tongva, but the tribe still didn’t receive federal recognition or assistance. Read a timeline of the tribe’s history here.

Bogany wanted to “change the future for her tribe, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren; this is her way of doing it. All the work she’s done for the past 20 years is for their future and for the future of her Tongva tribe.”

A statement by some of her colleagues Gina Lamb, Tricia Morgan, Tessa Hicks Peterson, Susan Phillips, Erich Steinman and her students at the Claremont Colleges, paid tribute to her legacy.

“Her work to uplift, revitalize, and decolonize the legacy of the Native Americans on whose land we have settled (the Tongva) has made a huge impact not only locally and nationally, but specifically in the educational and social justice work of Pitzer (and Pomona, as well),” read the statement. “We’d like to honor her work and support her family, in this time of need.”

ArtCenter’s Chief Diversity Officer to Address Importance of Global Citizenship, Strengthening Pasadena’s Sister City Relationship with Dakar-Plateau

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Now, 4/5/2021

What does it mean to be a global citizen? 

How can the Pasadena community make the most of its Sister City relationship with Dakar-Plateau, Senegal?

Dr. Aaron Bruce, vice president and chief diversity officer at ArtCenter College of Design, will address these important questions when the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee’s Senegal Subcommittee’s virtual speaker series continues Thursday at 6 p.m.

“It’s important that we build out robust partnerships and relationships that are sustainable and honor the traditions and legacies of communities and cultures that we may not be familiar with,” Bruce said. “It’s very easy for us as Americans to go to places and impose our perspective. What I’ve learned through my journey, my life, my marriage, and through raising my children is that it is really important to be flexible and open to doing things a different way.”

Bruce, who was born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, has more than 20 years of experience leading initiatives focused on campus diversity, inclusion and international (DEI) engagement. He joined ArtCenter in 2018 and helped establish its Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Art and Design. Before ArtCenter, Bruce served as the chief diversity officer at San Diego State University and director of multicultural affairs at Rhode Island College.

The Senegal Subcommittee facilitates the diplomatic relationship between Pasadena and Dakar-Plateau, Senegal, Pasadena’s first sister city on the African continent.

Bruce “will take us on an exciting personal quest” and “help us discover the semi-mysterious ArtCenter, partly hidden in trees of the Linda Vista hills above the Rose Bowl,” according to the Senegal subcommittee. “In the spirit of a Global Citizen, Dr. Bruce, who himself traveled to Africa and South and Central America, will discuss ways ArtCenter can join in our cooperation with Dakar-Plateau.”

Bruce was an early supporter of Pasadena’s sister city relationship with Dakar-Plateau, which was confirmed in 2018. In June 2019, Dakar-Plateau Mayor Alioune Ndoye led a delegation to Pasadena. ArtCenter hosted the delegation for a discussion on building exchange partnerships between Dakar-Plateau art students and ArtCenter art students.

“However, COVID has put a damper on that,” Bruce said. 

In the meantime, he added, Pasadenans should take this time to learn more about Senegal. 

“Many Americans don’t even know where Senegal is located, unfortunately. They don’t know the difference between Dakar and Nairobi. That’s the first step, is for us as community members who are dedicated to the sister city partnership, which I think is so important, to be honest and open and reflect on how much we really know about what’s going on there right now and the history of the country,” Bruce said.

He added that it’s not just the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee members who are part of the sisterhood, but the entire Pasadena community.

“If we’re going to build an authentic relationship, it is important for us to know a lot more about what the everyday life for someone is, but also the economy, some of the challenges around politics, and learning culture: what are some of the things that individuals embrace? As we do that, more curiosity, more interest in establishing partnerships will come,” Bruce said.

Bruce will also speak about his personal journey and how the international experiences he has had have shaped his perspective on global citizenship and diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Part of that is understanding people and their lived experiences and developing a sense of empathy and understanding power dynamics and some of the politics associated with that,” he said.

He will also address how Pasadena institutions such as ArtCenter can make the most out of its sister city partnership with Dakar-Plateau, during and after the pandemic.

“It’s important to personalize what this partnership with a sister city really means,” he said. “Although some Americans do travel to other places, they often travel to places that are very similar to the United States. Their experiences are more like a human safari where they’re not really engaging in any in-depth way with individuals but it’s more a quick service experience and then they’re off to their life of privilege.”

Bruce pointed out that ArtCenter alumni have spent time over the past year in Dakar, Senegal, at Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock artist residency studio. Wiley painted President Barack Obama’s official portrait, which hangs in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery’s “America’s Presidents” exhibition and depicts Obama sitting on a chair among green foliage.

Black Rock is a multidisciplinary artist-in-residence program founded in 2019 that hosts international artists in Dakar for months at a time. The program’s mission is to “support new artistic creation through collaborative exchange and to incite change in the global discourse about Africa.”

Bruce said ArtCenter also wants to create spaces here in Pasadena for visiting artists to “share their perspective and lived experiences.”

He added that now is the time to lay the groundwork and establish plans for what the future could look like, now that light is beginning to appear at the end of the pandemic tunnel. 

ArtCenter plans to begin bringing students and faculty back to campus this summer, but the college has maintained a robust online learning experience during the pandemic.

“The COVID virus over the last year has created some unique challenges but ArtCenter is filled with creative problem solvers,” Bruce said. “Our students have been able to adjust actually very quickly. Those who haven’t been able to adjust, we’ve been providing a lot of support. Not everyone has the same technology in their house or access to the same materials. We’ve been working very closely with them to try to make sure they have what they need.”

Bruce also said that universities across the country are beginning to make progress when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Universities have been on a 20-year journey to be bold and brave in that DEI space,” he said. “Historically, it has a lot more to do with whether there was a legal imperative to create inclusive spaces on university campuses or whether it was actually woven into the values of that institution. What we’re seeing right now is a sincere commitment from many universities around the country to shift the improprieties and disparities that have existed historically, whether it was related to gender and pay equity and those spaces or whether it’s related to representation in the curriculum.”

He said ArtCenter has been doing this work for a long time, but with the Center for DEI that he leads, it is “becoming more organized and institutionalized in a way that everyone can participate. It’s actually a very exciting place to be.”

Register for the April 8 Sister Cities event with Dr. Aaron Bruce at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMkc-uorTstHtG_7cHU2KVV_aQ6g-q8AMtl.

About Pasadena Sister Cities

The Pasadena Sister Cities Committee’s Dakar-Plateau Subcommittee had a number of in-person events and cultural exchanges in mind before the COVID-19 pandemic intervened. To help bridge that gap, they’ve launched a virtual speaker series as a way to educate the public and keep that relationship connected, said Boualem Bousseloub, chair of the subcommittee.

The idea of partnering cities grew out of the Twin Town concept in Europe in 1946 following World War II. Ludwigshafen was selected in 1948 by the Pasadena branch of the American Friends Service Committee. America’s involvement came in 1956 following President Dwight Eisenhower’s White House conference on citizen diplomacy, out of which grew Sister Cities International (SCI). Pasadena formally established its Sister Cities chapter in 1960.

Pasadena has six Sister Cities partnerships, with Ludwigshafen, Germany (1948); Mishima, Japan (1957); Järvenpää, Finland (1983); Vanadzor, Armenia (1991); the Xicheng District of Beijing, China (1999); and Dakar-Plateau, Senegal, which was approved by the Pasadena City Council in 2018 after many years of discussion, planning, and research, including an exploratory delegation to the West African city led by Bousseloub and Councilmember John Kennedy. Following approval by both cities, Dakar-Plateau Mayor Alioune Ndoye led a delegation to Pasadena in June 2019 and then-Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek led a delegation to Dakar-Plateau in March 2020 to finalize the partnership.

Dakar-Plateau has a population of nearly 37,000 people and is one of 19 districts of Senegal’s capital of greater Dakar, serving as its political, financial and commercial center. Dakar is the westernmost city on Africa’s mainland, with a population of 1 million.

In season two of "Well Read," host and journalist Justin Chapman provides analysis on news, politics, arts, and culture and interviews special guests. Featuring segments by Senior Influencer Correspondent, @BradtheInfluencer, and Senior Toddler Correspondent, Sienna. Justin also provides recommendations for good reads in each episode.

In Episode Twelve, Justin interviews Irish journalist Ed Moloney, author of A Secret History of the IRA.

You can watch "Well Read" below, on YouTube, or on PasadenaMedia.org. Check that website for showtimes, or watch anytime on their streaming app.

Learn more at justindouglaschapman.com and sign up for my email newsletter at justinchapman.substack.com/subscribe.



Reporter’s Notebook: Lessons From Little Rock

Pasadena resident Dr. Terrence Roberts said his experience as one of the Little Rock Nine in 1957 shows that even today America doesn’t want to be an integrated society

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Now, 3/15/2021

Pasadena resident Dr. Terrence Roberts said his experience as one of the Little Rock Nine taught him several lessons about the reality of race relations in the United States during a talk he delivered to the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee’s Senegal Subcommittee’s virtual speaker series on March 11.

The Little Rock Nine was the group of Black students who first integrated an all-white high school in Arkansas in 1957. The Senegal Subcommittee facilitates the diplomatic relationship between Pasadena and Dakar-Plateau, Senegal, Pasadena’s first Sister City on the African continent.

“The national narrative that many people have bought into that suggests that we are a people who believe in liberty, equality, and justice is false,” Roberts said. “The only way to solve the issues in this country is to be objective about who we are. We’ve been lying to kids for years; we have to tell them the truth. And the truth is, we’re not who we say we are. Once people have internalized that national narrative, they will do everything within their power to make sure that nobody else takes that away from them. People who believe in the ideology of racism will not give that up.”

He argued that the willfully ignorant must decide for themselves to change their hateful beliefs.

“Collectively, as Americans, we have not yet decided that we want to have a society that is equal for all people,” Roberts added. “We give lip service to it all the time, but nothing is being done. If we want to do something, we do it. We have not even considered repealing policies of racism. Why?”

For example, Roberts called for the abolition of the Electoral College, which he pointed out is an artifact from the days of slavery.

“Slaveholders needed to have that assurance that they would have enough representation so they could sway elections,” he said. “It’s reprehensible that we would allow someone like Donald Trump to run for office in the first place. [This country] is very sick, and there are many people who profit off the sickness. So any effort to reform or move forward is seen as an insult by these folk. We cling to outmoded thinking that goes along these lines: ‘I made it, [therefore] you can make it.’ Horrendous way of thinking. We all know the system is rigged so some people can make it and others can’t.”

‘In the throes of madness’

Roberts was born in Little Rock in 1941. His birth, along with others of that week, was announced in the local paper, but he was not a welcomed addition to that society. White parents were listed with the honorifics Mr. and Mrs., while Black parents were listed by first names only.

“When I was born,” he said, “this entire country was still operating under the aegis of a Supreme Court decision that had been rendered in 1896: Plessy v. Ferguson. That decision bequeathed to us the terminology ‘separate but equal,’ a doctrine that applied to every aspect of human life. At the apex of the triangle were the group of so-called ‘white people,’ and at the bottom were so-called ‘Black people,’ who had no rights. But Plessy was not the start of this madness and did not invent racial discrimination. I would suggest we start with the year 1619 as a credible starting point of who we were, who we have been, who we are.”

In August 1619, America’s transatlantic slave trade began when a ship carrying 20 slaves landed at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia. Historians estimate that between 1525 and 1866, about 12.5 million Africans were forcibly brought to the New World. Of those, only about 10.7 million survived the Middle Passage, and of those, only about 388,000 were shipped directly to North America, with the rest going to the Caribbean and South America.

As a young person in the South in the 1940s, Roberts had to learn the rules of segregation, which he quickly found to be not only illegal but also immoral, objectionable and nonsensical.

“This whole country was in the throes of madness,” he said. “No one could help me with it. In fact, when I tried to start conversations with Black adults, I would often get a look of consternation or fear etched on their faces. Often, the response was, ‘Boy, don’t bring that stuff up. You want to get us all killed?’ And then I knew I was in deep trouble.”

He attended Gibbs Elementary, Dunbar Middle and Horace Mann High schools, all of them all-Black, segregated institutions. He vividly remembers his first-grade teacher telling her students, “You kids must take on executive responsibility for learning. You have to become executives in charge of your own independent learning enterprises.”

“I don’t know about the other kids, but for me that sparked an inferno,” Roberts said. “I could feel this blazing fire inside. Each day as I awaken, I realize my first task is to continue to learn. If we’re not doing that, we’re not fully participating in life.”

That teacher, and all the other Black teachers in those segregated schools, were operating with “a smoldering anger” because they were not allowed to pursue careers in their chosen occupations, Roberts pointed out. Their misfortune, however, gave Roberts and the other kids an advantage.

“We had the best and the brightest,” he explained. “Because of segregation and because of this pool of teachers who were highly qualified, school became an oasis for me, one filled with magical things. By fourth grade, I was an expert. One teacher tried to ram down my throat something called ‘Manifest Destiny.’ I knew it was a lie.”

Emmett Till’s lesson

When he was 13, Roberts had an epiphany about racial segregation. In the summer of 1954, he wandered into a hamburger joint called the Crystal Burger. He knew it was owned by white people who didn’t have much love in their hearts for Black people, but that because it was a capitalistic enterprise and they needed customers, they allowed Black people to buy food and to enter through the front door, which was quite unusual. Most places like that only had a side window or a back door for Black clientele.

“But they had a rule: you could not, under any circumstances, sit down,” he said. “You had to stand and wait for your order, after which you took your order outside and ate it wherever you wished. I knew the drill. I understood the protocol. Because had I not followed the rules of segregation, I may not have survived that entire Little Rock experience. On that particular day, 13 years of age, I thought to myself as I looked around after placing my order and saw all of these empty stools and chairs, it just made sense for me to sit down. I was a paying customer.”

His sitting down triggered an instant response. Every white person in the restaurant said nothing, but the looks on their faces said it all. The message, Roberts said, was palpable.

“At that moment, I could feel something snap inside of me,” he said. “I canceled my order and ran out of that place and found myself crying profuse tears. As I was running home, the thought hit me, ‘Terry Roberts, you can no longer obey these rules of segregation. It’s too demeaning and debilitating to you mentally, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. It just doesn’t make sense.’ I knew I was in trouble at that point, though, because if I didn’t obey the rules, I could be taken out.”

Just one year later in 1955, Emmett Till, an African-American boy accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store, was viciously tortured and lynched in the town of Money, Mississippi, a state that is geographically contiguous to Arkansas. Till and Roberts were the same age, 14.

“When I heard the news of his murder, I felt a tremendous fear, because I had vowed not to obey the rules of segregation,” Roberts said. “What would stop somebody from crossing the border and taking me out as well? It was not only frightening, but it left me in a state of unease for a long time.”

A consequential experiment

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation of America’s public schools was no longer constitutional. This decision filled Roberts with hope. But it was hope delayed because school districts did not immediately implement integration. In fact, the court had to issue a second ruling in 1955, known as Brown II, ordering school districts across the country to integrate “with all deliberate speed.”

It wasn’t until two years after that, in 1957, that the Little Rock school board decided to try an experiment to desegregate one high school, albeit after pressure from the local chapter of the NAACP. They chose Central High, which happened to be Roberts’ neighborhood school. He lived six blocks from the school, but when he was attending the all-Black Horace Mann High School, he had to walk past the all-white Central High to catch a bus downtown and transfer to another bus going to the other side of town to get to school, so he passed Central every day.

The school board put out a call for volunteers for Black students to integrate Central and along with Daisy Gaston Bates, president of the Arkansas NAACP and co-publisher of the African-American newspaper Arkansas State Press, sent representatives to Little Rock’s two all-Black schools. They posed the question, “How many of you would join us in this desegregation experiment?”

About 150 kids raised their hands, Roberts included. Reporting home to their parents that day that they’d volunteered, Roberts said, “You could almost hear the noise of parental vetoes being exercised all over Little Rock, and 140 of those parents said no outright: ‘No way. My kid’s not going to wind up with his or her blood being spilled in the gutters of Little Rock. I won’t have it.’”

But 10 sets of parents said yes, Roberts’ included. They told him they would support his decision “100 percent.” They followed up by letting him know that once he got there and found it was too difficult, they would also support his decision to quit “100 percent.” His parents’ support, either way, he said, was crucial. He knew if he wanted to leave, he could.

“For a very brief moment, we were the Little Rock Ten,” he said. “That didn’t last for very long, because the father of the 10th child received a call from his white employer saying to him, ‘If you continue in this madness, don’t bother coming back to work.’ Out of fear of losing his economic survival, he pulled his kid out. Tragically, he lost his job anyway. That’s something I could have told him, even as a 15-year-old. I knew the mindset of people who would wholly embrace racist ideology. They will tolerate no breach of protocol. And so we were nine.”

There were six females and three males. In addition to Roberts, they included Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Carlotta Walls, and Jefferson Thomas, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2010 in Columbus, Ohio, two weeks before his 68th birthday. “We may be eight, but we are still the Little Rock Nine,” Roberts said.

‘Allow the mob to hang one kid, and we’ll save eight’

The students showed up at Central High on Sept. 4, 1957, for their first day of school. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to keep them out. About three weeks later, the Guard was removed and the Little Rock police were set up to facilitate the students’ entry into the school. On Sept. 23, about 1,000 angry white protesters rioted outside the school.

“We got into the school, but we weren’t there very long, maybe an hour or two, when the mob became so enraged they broke through the police lines, which wasn’t very hard because the police line was flexible, if you will,” Roberts said. “In fact, some of the policemen joined the mob and ripped off their badges, but didn’t turn in their guns. And because things were so volatile, there was some discussion among the people on the scene that ‘perhaps we should allow the mob to hang one kid, and we’ll save eight.’ Assistant Police Chief Gene Smith, however, prevailed and said, ‘No, we’re saving all nine.’”

The nine students were rounded up from class and escaped to an underground parking garage under the school where they got into police squad cars and were driven to safety. The drivers were told, “Use the accelerator only; don’t even think about using the brakes.”

The next day, President Dwight Eisenhower sent 1,200 members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division to escort the students into the school. Roberts was elated but said that was just the beginning of the chaos.

“We were told, in no uncertain terms, ‘If you persist in being here, we’ll kill you.’ Attempts were made. How the nine of us survived, I can’t tell you how that happened,” he said.

One boy in particular, Jerry Tully, had it out for Roberts and made it his business to be wherever Roberts was, making it clear it was Tully’s mission to kill Roberts. One day in gym class the coach encouraged the other kids to wrestle Roberts on the mat. Tully was first in line and charged at Roberts, who grabbed Tully’s dog tag chain and choked him with the intention of killing him, knowing full well that if Tully didn’t succeed, the others surely would.

“That was not an unusual happenstance,” Roberts added. “The whole year was absolutely crazy.”

For example, Patillo had acid thrown in her face and Ray was pushed down a flight of stairs. Brown was kicked out of school for retaliating when attacked, despite a pledge of nonviolence the nine students had made to each other.

Green was the only one to graduate from Central High, and Martin Luther King, Jr., attended his graduation ceremony. He went on to serve as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor in the Carter administration.

In 1958, the remaining seven students let Governor Faubus know that they would be returning to Central High in September for round two. “He was not happy about that,” Roberts said. The governor decided to close all public high schools in Little Rock for a year, during which white private schools flourished, and still do today.

Rather than wait around, Roberts accepted an invitation from relatives who lived in Los Angeles, where he moved and enrolled in L.A. High. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cal State, L.A., his master’s degree in social welfare from UCLA and his Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He then went on to lead an esteemed career as a clinical psychologist, academic, scholar, author and management consultant on fair and equitable practices in business.

In 1998, the Little Rock school board hired Roberts as a desegregation consultant, more than 40 years after their “desegregation experiment,” not because they had any intention of actually integrating, but because it made for good PR.

“I knew they were lying and I told the superintendent that,” he said. The superintendent fired him four years later.

“Education is not the only battleground for integration,” Roberts added. “We as a country have decided that we do not want to be an integrated society.”

‘A pillar of our community’

Before delivering his remarks, Roberts was introduced by Danny Bakewell, Jr., executive vice president of the Bakewell Company real estate firm and executive editor and chief of staff of Bakewell Media, which owns and operates LA Watts Times, WBOK Radio in New Orleans and LA Sentinel, the largest African-American newspaper west of the Mississippi. Bakewell family members are longtime stalwarts of the Pasadena community.

Bakewell explained that Roberts is known affectionately as “Uncle Terry” by many in the community and pointed out that Roberts once conducted racial sensitivity consulting with the Tournament of Roses Association.

The organization’s 935 volunteers are aptly named “White Suiters” because of the all-white suits they wear on the day of the parade. In the late 1990s, the tournament hired Roberts to work with its members and staff in helping them “address complaints from various public and private individuals, organizations, corporations, and municipalities that they were essentially a ‘Whites Only’ organization.”

He held workshops with tournament staff on how they could change the organization’s image as non-diverse and non-inclusive.

“I told them, ‘Consider this: you’ve got a bunch of old white guys driving around in white suits and white cars, now what message does that give?’” Roberts said. “They were a little aghast, as you might expect. I said, ‘What we need to do is help you develop a greater sense of awareness about what’s going on here. You need to have a historical dimension so you understand why people are even considering making noise about you. You’re not just an occasional thorn in the flesh here. You are representative of what this country has stood for, for too long.’”

The tournament eventually announced in 2018 that Gerald Freeny of Altadena would serve as the first African-American president of the then-123-year-old organization. The tournament has a seven-year succession path for its presidents and he was actually elected in 2011 by the 14-member executive committee, the tournament’s decision-making body consisting of seven future presidents, the current president, the immediate past president and five rotational “at-large” members. Those five seats must be held by racial and gender minorities who get a vote but are not in line to become president like the others and only serve for two years.

The at-large members were added to the executive committee as a compromise following protests in 1992-93 led by local developer Jim Morris and newspaper publishers Joe Hopkins and Bakewell’s father, Danny Bakewell, Sr. They blocked traffic with vehicles on South Orange Grove Boulevard in front of Tournament House in fall 1993 to protest the organization’s lack of diversity. Freeny was one of the first people chosen to be an at-large member when it was created in 1993, having started as a volunteer with the organization in 1988. It took decades of pressure to convince the tournament to diversify its leadership.

Roberts played an important role in that process. His consulting work “was designed to help the members of the tournament develop a greater awareness and understanding of who they were vis-a-vis the people in this community — all the people,” Roberts said. “That they were not just there to represent the interests of a few. This was part of Pasadena, and Pasadena is populated by a variety of people. And that was not reflected in the tournament. The fact that Gerald is the first-ever African-American president of the tournament is very indicative of what we’re talking about. So that just stands there as a testament to what the history has been. And the big question is, are they willing to change that history? That’s what my work was about with them, at least getting them to face the question.”

Bakewell called Roberts “a pillar of our community” and “a true blessing to not only the African-American community but to all who fight against oppression and injustice.”

Read more about Roberts and the Little Rock Nine here.