Joan Williams’ Pasadena Redemption Ride Eludes Network Media Recognition

by: AFRO Staff
/ Joan Williams led the Rose Parade banner float on January 1, 2015. (Instagram Photo) /
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Joan Williams led the Rose Parade banner float on January 1, 2015. (Instagram Photo)

Many viewers watched this year’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. with the expectation of at least a snippet about Joan Williams who graced the city banner float finally, after having originally been invited and disinvited in 1957.

While local and national media outlets had previously carried stories about the original slight and the impending correction, Williams’ presence at the Jan. 1 event attracted no mention from the major TV networks.

The Twitterfeed lit up with tweets of disappointment:

Kevin Turner: @nbcroseparade: it would have been nice if you told the story of Joan Williams, who was denied the honor to ride in the parade in 1958.

Robin Caldwell: …Sad b/c I only watched b/c of Mrs. Williams. #BlackLivesMatter.

Shadow:  Why no mention of #JoanWilliams and #sikhfloat?

Susan A. Kitchens:  Watched @KTLA’s rerun to confirm Joan Williams NON-coverage.

These weren’t the only messages being sent. Joan Williams’ son, Robert “Chip” Williams,  who is teaching at a university in Turkey, texted his sister, Angela, who was in the parade stands, that the banner float had passed and their mother had not been mentioned by the announcer.

Williams told the AFRO that this was apparently the choice of the coverage producer, according to station operators who responded to myriad calls inquiring about the omission.

“I was just concerned that in this racially contentious atmosphere, someone missed the opportunity to share a good news story,” Joan Williams said. “A situation that has come full circle with an open apology. It bothers me that they didn’t see the value of sharing something like this.”

She was nevertheless fully encouraged by the supporters along the parade path.

“They were out there freezing their little butts off, but they were waving and high-fiving,” she said. “They had made signs and huge posters. It was really something. It was wonderful.”

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