ColoradoBlvd.net POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 17, 2019 BY CHRISTOPHER NYERGES
Dale Gronemeier is a long-time progressive activist and lawyer in the Pasadena area.By Christopher Nyerges
Gronemeier, who is 80 years old and blessed with good health, said he is winding down his legal practice, with his last trial scheduled for next summer.
According to Gronemeier, “My most important contribution has been progressive coalition-building in Pasadena. The lawsuit that challenged ‘at-large elections’ built a broad coalition of 13 plaintiff organizations that included religious, political, and racial-ethnic organizations.
Most recently, the coalition of religious, political, religious-ethnic, labor, and immigrant organizations that successfully fought the campaign for a $15/hour minimum wage in Pasadena was the broadest Pasadena progressive coalition since the New Deal era.
Early yearsGronemeier’s first significant progressive activism was in 1959, when, as an Illinois State University student body president, he wrote a resolution condemning loyalty oaths which was then unanimously adopted by the National Student Association.
In the period of 1960-61, when he was a graduate student at Northwestern University, Gronemeier organized a student forum which brought progressive speakers to campus.
Serving in the army from 1962-63, Gronemeier organized opposition to racism at Fort Knox. In the summer of 1964, he worked along with other members of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to register voters in the Mississippi Freedom Summer.
Gronemeier married Temetra Smith in 1966. Of note, their interracial marriage was illegal in 16 states at that time. They first met in a freshman political science class in 1956 and both were interscholastic debaters at ISU. Smith was the President of the campus chapter of the NAACP.
He taught half-time at UC Berkeley from 1967-69 while working towards a Ph.D. in Rhetoric. After writing a paper titled, Racial Discrimination at UC Berkeley, his teaching position was not renewed, and he did not complete the Ph.D.
After UC Berkeley fired Gronemeier, he and his wife both taught three years in the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Speech Department and worked organizing students and faculty on civil rights, anti-war, and union issues. Later in 1972, NIU did not renew the contracts of either Gronemeier or his wife, despite a demonstration by several thousand students and faculty supporting them.
After Gronemeier received his JD from the University of Illinois in 1975, the Gronemeiers moved to the Pasadena area.
Pasadena activismIn 1979, after Pasadena’s at-large elections caused losses to progressive candidates for City Council Lois Richard and Morris Fischer, Gronemeier headed an ACLU legal team that challenged the at-large election system on behalf of 13 Pasadena community organizations. The lawsuit was the catalyst leading to the issue being put to the voters and passing.
From 1985-1989, Gronemeier successfully challenged restrictive regulations at the Plaza Pasadena on behalf of community groups seeking to gather signatures.
In the mid-1990s, the City of Pasadena hired Gronemeier’s firm to challenge racial discrimination at King’s Villages.
After the death of Kendrec McDade, Gronemeier became active in the Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police (CICOPP) calling for the hiring of an Independent Police Auditor.
Gronemeier was also a founding member of the Pasadenans for a Livable Wage, which successfully lobbied for Pasadena’s Minimum Wage Ordinance and then was a founding board member and executive committee member of its successor – Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP).
> Dale Gronemeier will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award Celebration on Saturday, September 21, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church at 301 N. Orange Grove in Pasadena.