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Late Councilman Honored With Pool-Naming Ceremony

By Jessica Doherty
The Outlook

Pasadena city officials and community members recently revealed the plaque for the Honorable John J. Kennedy Pool at Jackie Robinson Park.

Elected officials, Kennedy’s family members, clergy and local residents attended the ceremony — so many that nearly every chair was full and people were lined along three walls of the park’s community room to listen.

Councilmember Kennedy served District 3 of the city of Pasadena from 2013 until his passing in 2022. Born and raised in Pasadena, he was also the youngest person to serve as the president of the Pasadena chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Before his passing, he played an active role in rallying other local leaders behind the pool’s construction, garnering $500,000 from L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

Kennedy’s namesake is another important Black cultural legend to be honored in the area. The pool is within the Jackie Robinson Community Center/Park and near the Octavia E. Butler Magnet Middle School.

Councilman Tyron Hampton brought his two daughters to the event, a symbol of the significance of the center and pool for the next generation.

“There is no America without Black people. It’s important that they see these names [and] recognize that these individuals were in the same community that they were born and raised in,” he said. “For every young person that comes through these doors to learn to swim to know the name John J. Kennedy … that he was a Black man that was from this community, that gave his heart and soul to the community.”

The ceremony concluded with a group prayer. As the crowd held hands and stretched around the entire perimeter of the pool, the prayers called for the safety of the pool, greater unity of the community, and continued work against injustice.

“We still have to find ways, oh God, to unite our community and to stop the injustices that continue to happen,” said the Rev. Larry Campbell. “To find ways, oh God, to remove the disconnect between the people and the process.”

Mayor Victor Gordo said the pool is an important fixture in the neighborhood. “Not only is it important to recognize the contributions of Councilmember Kennedy, but it’s also important to recognize we’re providing desperately needed services by the way of a swimming pool … and lessons for kids and people of all ages,” he said. “The services of the pool are desperately needed in the Latino and African American communities.”

Despite the chill in the air and looming rain clouds, individuals were swimming before and after the ceremony.

Lena Kennedy, the sister of the late John J. Kennedy, felt as though her brother was present with everyone throughout the day.

“John is peeping through the clouds — the blue sky you see is him smiling down upon us,” she said.

Photo by Jessica Doherty / Mayor Victor Gordo spoke at the pool-naming ceremony for the late Pasadena Councilman John J. Kennedy at the Jackie Robinson Community Center.

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