In what may be a significant step to promote healing from racist practices in the community’s past, the City Council plans to consider a resolution on Tuesday formally acknowledging and apologizing for what made Glendale a reputed “sundown town” decades ago.
The proposed resolution comes months after city officials faced a strong demand from residents to shine a light on those past practices, amid the broader national conversations about how racial discrimination has festered or persisted even after laws forbade its practice. The staff report on the resolution includes references to such phenomena as Black homebuyers being frozen out of various neighborhoods, the “sundown town” practice through which Black employees would face threats if they remained within city limits after work hours, and the general atmosphere of a city that was the home of some Ku Klux Klan leaders and an American Nazi Party branch.
A coalition of local civic groups and other community leaders — including Black in Glendale and the YWCA Glendale — that have formed Anti-Racist Glendale endorsed the resolution and urged its adoption this week.
“The first step towards making Glendale a truly inclusive community is recognizing and making amends for the past and present actions that have made it such a difficult place for Black people to live and work,” Black in Glendale founder Tanita Harris-Ligons said in a statement. “We at Black in Glendale are heartened that the city has accepted the challenge and wants to do the hard work of being a model for change and inclusion for other sundown towns. We urge the City Council to honor the contributions of the diverse community coalition and city staff that crafted this resolution with its passing and implore you to follow this action with meaningful policies and programs that improve Black representation in Glendale on all fronts.”
The council was prepared in July to adopt a similar resolution that broadly condemned such past transgressions, but ultimately pulled the resolution for want of more direct evidence to help identify where the city might more specifically be able to extend some sort of reparation. Councilman Ara Najarian wanted more history on Glendale’s myriad developers and YWCA Glendale CEO Tara Peterson agreed that though she was happy about the direction the city was taking, more work needed to be done.
“We cannot chart a pathway toward an anti-racist Glendale without first reckoning with the injustices of the past,” Peterson said in a statement this week. “It is the remnants of those injustices that continue to negatively impact the experiences of Black, indigenous and people of color today. The city of Glendale has the opportunity to turn the page on this chapter and demonstrate what is possible when a community is invested in doing the hard work of addressing racism.”
The council meeting is slated to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, and can be viewed live on the city’s website or on cable.