Businessman Al Lowe spent his life breaking through racial barriers. Journalist Larry Wilson talks about how Al led the integration of his community’s segregated schools, and changed the culture of the formerly all-white Tournament of Roses committee. (Intro: Plus One)
Al Lowe ran Lowes Furniture for almost 40 years while he became increasingly involved in civic affairs. In 1970, Lowe became the first member of a racial minority elected to the Pasadena school board. When a judge ruled that Pasadena’s schools should be integrated, Lowe became the point man for this process, and as the board implemented a plan that involved busing, Lowe endured threats, pickets in front of his home and patrons who withdrew their accounts from his business. In the early 1990’s, Lowe assumed leadership of the diversity committee for Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses committee, slowly changing its reputation as being an “old white men’s club.” Lowe also served as chairman of the board of the Pasadena Playhouse in 1994, helping lead major fundraising efforts. Lowe passed away in 2018 at the age of 92.
Larry Wilson is the public editor for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the Pasadena Star-News and the Whittier Daily News and an editorial writer and columnist for SCNG. Larry was named editorial page editor of the Pasadena Star-News in 1987, and subsequently became the paper’s editor for 12 years. He lives in Pasadena and is based in the West Covina and Pasadena offices.