In 1954, Sun Village residents led by Bernice Hunter founded the Sun Village Women’s Club (SVWC). It was as day to day social organization that brought residents together for social events and community building activities. But as the organization grew, it became clear that they shared common interests and could use their organization to advance them. These interests largely centered on the well being of children in Sun Village, and through their campaigns to support children, the SVWC built Sun Village’s major community infrastructure.
For example, in the early 1950s, streets in Sun Village were mostly dirt, meaning that school buses could not reach the area to pick up children and drive them to school. In the 1950s, SVWC worked with the county to get the streets paved so that the busses could pick up children for school. Similarly, The Keppel Union School District that Sun Village was part of did not employ and Black teachers, and SVWC worked hard (and successfully) to get Black teachers hired in the district. Finally, the club turned to the issue of parks for children, beginning a decade long effort that resulted in one of the most important and lasting pieces of public infrastructure in Sun Village today.
As one resident recalled, although Black students were allowed to enroll at Palmdale High School, children were not allowed to play there. And in Sun Village during the 1950s and early 60’s, there simply were no parks. So to help children get access to spaces for play and recreation, the Sun Village Women’s Club turned to making its own park in Sun Village. Jessie Carroll, elected as president of the Club in 1957, led the effort to purchase several acres of land intended for park development.
The club held fundraisers through the late 1950s and early 1960s, secured donations from Sun Village residents, and pooled together its own members’ donations, using these funds to acquire adjacent plots of land in the future park site. As it secured these parcels, it sold them to the county in coordination with County Supervisor Warren M. Dorn. In 1958, the county purchased four acres from the club and from Jesse and Bruce F. Carroll for a total of $4,025.
At the Club’s request, the County named the park in honor of Jackie Robinson. Robinson had grown up in Pasadena, and endured racial segregation in his own city’s public accommodations. He went on to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, and advocate for civil rights across the country. The County Supervisor who represented the Antelope Valley, Warren Dorn, had gone to school with Robinson, and supported the plan.
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