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Why Fontana Election of Warren and Green is Historic

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Everyone is talking about the historic day on November 2, 2010 when Acquanetta Warren was elected Mayor of Fontana and Sophia Green was elected to the Fontana School Board.

Part of the reason that makes it so historic is because of the history of Fontana with the struggle of racial tension that existed for many years where Blacks were regulated to live in a part of Fontana known as the track. The line of demarcation based on race was Miller Street just below Baseline. When I started reading meters for Southern Calfornia Edison back in the mid sixties, what I thought to be true became clear because I went into every neighborhood and saw first hand. I serviced Fontana for four years at Edison and twenty eight years at Kaiser Permanente- Kaiser Hospital in the Human Resource Department.

The fight for racial inclusion was led by many in Fontana like, Ted and Pauline Davis of the NAACP, Dorothy Grant, Jesse Turner, Minnie Tisby, Dave King, James Gaston, Kitty Holloway, Art Forbes, administrator at Kaiser Permanente, Charles Redd school counselor and others in the community. On the other side of the isles working hard to convince people to change the city was Mayor Nat Simon, Bea Watson, Louis Hickey a home builder, John Vlasic, a community worker, Dr. Raymond Kay of Kaiser Permanente Medical Group and of course the United Steel Workers of America Union located at then Kaiser Steel Mill. During that time period of the fifties, sixties and seventies the political party was all Democrats and the community was also known as the home of the Hells Angels Motor Cycles Gang and the Ku Klux Klan. Some Blacks and Hispanics had sought public office but could never pull together a coalition strong enough to overcome the thing that divided them as in surrounding cities.

It was in the sixties and early seventies that the KKK led marches down Sierra Way with protesting marches from the NAACP and Martin Luther King, III. I had coffee with the Grand Dragon of the KKK, George Pepper, at the Thrifty Coffee shop across from Kaiser Hospital. George wanted to debate me on a special radio program about citizen’s rights in America. I turned him down but I learned a lot that day about race in America. One thing I learned was a lot of his membeer’s wives and friends worked in that coffee shop. Another was he could not shake hands with me in public because of his image and they have an issue with any Blacks making progress in living standards greater than whites.

With that background of Fontana just a few decades ago you can see why it is more than historic. I remember during my employment at Kaiser Permanente, Jews telling me they would leave work early before dark because of the racial image. Blacks move into the area and would drive past Kaiser Fontana to go and work at other Kaisers in Los Angeles. Many people sought me out to get a feel on the area before they would decide to transfer or agree to work in Fontana.

Then along came people like Supervisor Josie Gonzales, Janice Rutherford, newly elected supervisor, former Mayor Mark Nuaimi, Barbara Chavez of the United Steel Workers and school board member ushering in a new wave of thinking in the city’s political arena. They expressed a mission of inclusion to all developers and business owners who wanted to do business in the city thus a major change in the living patterns and political appointments on boards and commissions. Yes, Fontana became a city on the move and not looking back on this racial past but now a leader in the area of what came be done when you seek the best in all its citizens. This does not mean Fontana does not have problems when it comes to race but it does show evidence from its leaders and citizens that they are light years from where they used to be. It also demonstrates to the Blacks and Hispanics that you also must process the qualifications and personality that inspires confidence in people that you can handle the job. African Americans make up only 10% of Fontana and only 18% are registered Republicans and Warren is an outspoken Republican.

Yes that is why, in my opinion the election on 11/2/2010 is so historic in Fontana of electing Acquanetta Warren, Mayor and Sophia Green to the School Board.

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0 # Art Sanchez 2013-01-27 14:27
I thank you for the history you were so kind to share about Fontana and the circumstances back then. I was born in Fontana and I am proud to say that I am still a resident of this great city I call home. Recently, it was conveyed to me that there may have been an unfortunate incident at the "Pepper" home located on Anastasia Ave. that has drawn some concern. Are you familiar with any history as to any unfortunate occurrences at the "Pepper" home? I would be interested in having some knowledge as to that aspects. Thank you once again and I look forward in hearing your response.
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0 # Guest 2012-01-26 19:25
no reply yet
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0 # Guest 2011-02-24 10:23
I am canadian in vancouver bc i used to work with a george pepper at sears when i lived in riverside in 1968. I have been trying to locate George and wonder if this is the same guy and if so do you know of a way I could make contact with him. I can,t believe it is the same guy, i hope not, but who knows. Anyway I would appreciate it if you know how I can get in touch.
Thanks
Bill Hobson
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