HONORING JOAN ROBERTA WILLIAMS; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 48
(Extensions of Remarks - March 18, 2019)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E320]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                             HON. JUDY CHU

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                         Monday, March 18, 2019

  Ms. JUDY CHU of California. Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the 
life of Joan Roberta Williams, who passed away on February 20, 2019 at 
the age of 86.
  Mrs. Williams was named Miss Crown City in 1958 after being nominated 
by her colleagues at Pasadena City Hall. Though she was supposed to 
perform the ceremonial duties around the Rose Parade now performed by 
the Rose Queen, such as ribbon cuttings and appearances with the Mayor 
of Pasadena, the float on which Mrs. Williams was scheduled to appear 
was cancelled. Mrs. Williams was denied these honors after city 
officials discovered that she was African American.
  It wasn't until New Year's Day of 2015 that Mrs. Williams finally 
appeared in the Rose Parade, this time in a float honoring ``Inspiring 
Stories.'' After an article appeared in the Pasadena Weekly detailing 
her racist treatment nearly half a century earlier, Mrs. Williams 
received a formal apology from the Mayor of Pasadena and was offered 
the opportunity to ride in the parade that had been denied to her, 
which she accepted as an opportunity for reconciliation.
  I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Williams in 2014, when the 
Pasadena non-profit Men Educating Men About Health honored her at a 
gala, where I had the opportunity to present her with their Woman of 
the Year Award. In the years between her original crowning and her 
eventual appearance in the Rose Parade, Mrs. Williams had a long career 
with Kaiser in Southern California, including several years in their 
Medicare office in my district. She volunteered for the Pasadena AIDS 
Service Center and with the Pasadena Unified School District, was 
honored on the floor of the California State Assembly, and had three 
children, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
  When she finally made her appearance in the 2015 Rose Parade, Mrs. 
Williams said the experience was ``especially important because [it 
pointed] out that with people of goodwill working to correct these 
mistakes, change can come. We hope it won't take so long, but when you 
look at our history, none of it has happened overnight, none of it has 
happened without a fight. The fight goes on.'' It is my honor today to 
recognize Mrs. Williams' legacy in that fight.