Who are you?
Hello, my name is Craig Washington. I am currently vice president of the Tournament of Roses and a member of the Board of Directors. I am honored and humbled to say that I am in line to serve as president for the 2029 Rose Parade.
What first motivated you to become involved with the Tournament?
Over 25 years ago, I was led to the Tournament by O.T. Triplett, a highly respected Pasadena business owner, Tournament member, and mentor in my life. Through his encouragement and convincing, he insisted that the Tournament of Roses was actively looking to recruit more African American business owners. I grew up in Pasadena in the late 60s, and I knew to be a member of this Pasadena institution was special and unique; thus, I jumped at the opportunity.
What keeps you motivated to continue with the Tournament and the work you do with the city of Pasadena?
What keeps me motivated to continue are the challenge, satisfaction, and quality people. Each year we put on a parade. However, the challenges of each year are always different and new. But the satisfaction that you receive on New Year’s day from people you have never met from all over the world gives you pause that you are part of something special put on by high-quality people. As for my commitment to the City of Pasadena, I have served as a City Commissioner for over 5 years and participated in numerous ad-hoc City committees over the years. I am vested in Pasadena and feel a need to contribute to the continual development of our community.
What is your focus now?
I was selected as the vice president of the Tournament of Roses in January of 2020, right before the pandemic COVID-19 and before the unfortunate event that took place over the summer, George Floyd’s death. As a result of that tragic event, and I call it a human tragedy and crime against humanity, the Tournament of Roses and many organizations throughout the country and individuals, felt emotion from that event. Out of that emotion, they all felt a need to show support for the Black community and begin to think about ways they could lend a hand and support this unfortunate event and the mindset that had developed to lead up to that.
As a Vice President of the Tournament of Roses Association and a leadership position on the executive committee, I was identified to bring ideas, thoughts, and possibilities in which the Association could play a role that fits within its goals, objectives, and its mission. From those thoughts and research, an initiative was developed; The Better Together Initiative. We are all people in this world and we all are better together, when we work together for mutual, common causes. The Association is looking to amplify charitable commitment to the Pasadena community in which it serves, not as an attempt to reinvent the wheel, but to refresh our thoughts on the needs of the communities that we serve, and to ensure that the Associations culture is inclusive, diverse, and equitable. To further foster this belief and commitment, the Association developed the Better Together Initiative. As a refreshed engagement strategy that is aligned with our Association’s strategic goals and engagements, similar efforts, objectives, and initiatives were built and worked on to support our long-standing community partners.
This effort became very personal to me because I care very deeply about Pasadena and the surrounding communities. I believe our region is beautiful and strong because of our people, who come from different backgrounds and walks of life. I’m committed to analyzing and identifying opportunities for the Association to fulfill our commitment and assist others in theirs.
What moment in Black history has influenced you or shaped your career in life?
This is a unique and different type of question because there are a lot of different moments in Black history that have occurred that probably impacted my life more than I even know. But, I know that there is one experience in particular, as I look back and study the history of Black people and their movement, and my family origins in America from South Carolina and Georgia.
During the 1950s, there was a moment in Black history called the Great Migration. It’s a big and significant unreported event in American history. From 1916-1970, more than 6 million African Americans migrated from the south for better opportunities. During that period, the significant oppression and the Jim Crow laws that were being placed upon Black people, the migration took place to the west and the north. My family moved to the west, to California. This was a very unique opportunity because I became a product of this Great Migration. My life’s fortunes and opportunities changed and were altered by this migration. Coming West produced more positive experiences for me growing up as a young adult.
What advice do you have for people looking to be more community-oriented? But also, what values do you think are important for the black community?
Those are very insightful questions. Those are questions of the future. We have experienced different events. No one can change the past. We have to look forward and see what types of contributions that we as individuals, organizations and institutions can do to impact change. To become more community-focused, individuals should be looking to strive for a community where individuals can bring their best and wholesales and build relationships with people with diverse backgrounds other than their own. I believe that if we commit to those values, collectively, we are better together and have a better mindset. We are all in this together. Communities will thrive with this type of mindset.
What we should look to instill in our children, and what I’ve learned to instill in my child (2012 Rose Queen Drew Washington) and family, and what’s been important to our legacy is education. The value of education is a shining, glaring gift that’s been so important to us. Educate, educate, educate. The value of education and self-worth is instrumental in the search for confidence and your truth. Seeking truth by understanding Black history is vital. In creating our narrative for the future, the Black community must have the confidence to take back their narrative that others have so conveniently written and rewritten for us. I think that’s paramount for us as a people as we move forward. The narrative that is placed in the community, by others, has to change. It needs to be a narrative of positive excellence and self-worth.