Local Woman Receives ‘Unsung Hero’ Honor

Juanita De Vaughn

Local resident Juanita De Vaughn was recognized by Assemblymember Chris Holden and the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) in a virtual ceremony as the 41st Assembly District’s 2021 Unsung Hero for her positive impact in the community.
“Juanita De Vaughn’s contributions to our community will have a powerful impact for years to come,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Through her dedication and hard work, she carries on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and is an inspiration for future generations. I have known Juanita for many years and it is an honor and a privilege to recognize her.”
De Vaughn was born in Boligee, Alabama, where she began her career as a lifelong educator and civil rights activist. She taught at the Industrial School for Girls and Boys in Alabama, and worked as a dietician at Talladega College and as a nutritionist for the Head Start program in Birmingham.
Active with the civil rights movement in Alabama, she attended meetings with Martin Luther King Jr. After the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, she helped provide the funeral repast meal, secretly pulling from her large resources as nutritionist for 47 schools in the Birmingham School District. Chris McNair, the father of one of the young girls who was killed in the bombing, later painted a picture of DeVaughn’s son, Kelvin, who died as a toddler.
Juanita and her late husband, Paul De Vaughn, were married in 1950 and moved to Altadena in 1967 where she continued her advocacy and commitment to education and civil rights. She taught locally at Charles Eliot Junior High School and retired from a 30-year teaching career at Pasadena’s John Muir High School, where she was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2018.
After retiring from teaching, she continued to make an impact within the community in her church, schools and voter registration projects. She chaired and founded the annual John Muir High School campus beautification day, and served on the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. She is an active member of Altadena Baptist Church, a life member of the NAACP, chair of the NAACP ACTSO program, and member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Greater Pasadena.
In recognition of her outstanding service to the Altadena and Pasadena community, her awards have included Delta Sigma Theta Mother of the Year, YWCA Century Volunteer of the Year, NAACP Pioneering Woman of Altadena, grand marshal of the Altadena/Pasadena Black History Parade, and the City of Pasadena’s Human Relations Commission’s Harry Sheldon Award.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical, and her masters from Azusa Pacific University. Children Paula and Robert, daughter-In-Law Connie, and her granddaughters Alena and Lauren all live locally.