The chicano community in the U.S and San Diego
One of the biggest events to impact the Chicano community in the U.S was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed all discrimination between gender, race, and religion. This impacted the community because it meant they could get better jobs and nice houses and finally be treated like a normal person.
Another huge event for the Chicano community was the Delano Grape Strike which was lead by Cesar Chavez. The purpose of this movement was to give Filipino and Chicano farm workers more money and better working conditions. They were not being treated fairly and over time this movement became substantial and the farm workers eventually got better pay and overall rights.
One last example, is on April 14th, 1947 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals created a rule that outlaws all segregation for Chicano student in schools. We haven't really talked about Chicano children getting their rights so I thought this event was a good thing to share because ALL Chicano people have a history.
These events have revolutionized the way the Chicano people live. Events like these show that all races deserve rights and all people deserve to be free. The Chicano community couldn't have made a change alone and these events really show that.
Specially, in San Diego, there is Chicano Park, which is very important to our community. Have you ever heard of Chicano Park? Well if you have then you might know it as the breathtaking national landmark with its many eye-catching murals. But do you know how the park became what it is today? Your answer is probably no, but if it isn’t, I bet you will learn something new about it anyways. Let's dive into this spectacular park's history and hidden secrets shall we?
First off, why is Chicano Park important to San Diego? Well throughout the history of San Diego, Chicano Park played a large role in how San Diego and its culture has not only changed over time, but what parts of that culture have been highlighted. Chicano Park was a dream for the neighboring community members of Barrio Logan.
However, on April 22, 1970, the residents learned that the promise had been rescinded and the land would be used for a Highway Patrol station. Once they found this out, hundreds of people went to the site and formed a human-like chain around bulldozers. They occupied the space for twelve days trying to stop the highway from being built. This then attracted the attention of government officials. One of the people there was Tommie "Tomasa" Camarillo who is now the Chairperson of the Chicano Park Steering Committee Por Vida.
“Months of negotiation followed as city and state agencies argued questions of land use and ownership. Residents, led by the Chicano Park Steering Committee, kept up pressure. The artist Salvador Torres proposed to transform the bridge's massive concrete pylons into a towering canvas for expression in the spirit of the Mexican Mural Movement.”
Finally in 2011 and 2012, about two dozen murals were restored. Many of the original artists did the work themselves, aided by fellow friends and family. “The restoration received a Grand Orchid award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation, which called the revitalized project "stunning.” There is now a map of where the murals are in Chicano park on their website. So that even people who can't come to the park can learn about the murals. This park like San Diego has blossomed overtime embracing the new bridge that was built and all of the new murals. It is also now a national historic landmark! Let's discuss how this happened in detail.
“Chicano Park has received international recognition as a major public art site. Since 1980, the Park has been listed on the Historical Landmarks Registry (San Diego Historical Resources Board), since 1997 on the California Register of Historical Resources." In January 2017, the park was designated a National Historic Landmark, thanks to the efforts of Congressman Juan Vargas, Josephine Talamantez and Manny Galaviz of the Chicano Park Steering Committee. This status recognizes the artistic, cultural and sociopolitical significance of the park and preserves the space for future generations.” This made San Diego a must stop place for travelers and made San Diego a lot more popular.
You might be asking what are some important things to know about Chicano Park? Well for decades the Chicano community has thrived as a small, self-reliant neighborhood. But after World War II, the city with complete disregard for “Barrio Logan residents rezoned Barrio Logan to allow the influx of industry, junkyards, metal shops and other toxic businesses incompatible with a residential community. City bureaucrats and politicians seemed to care less about the predominantly Chicano barrio.”
“By the mid-1960's, the community was bisected by the construction of Interstate 5, an eight lane freeway that tore Barrio Logan in half and displaced many lifelong residents. A community gathering place, the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe was no longer in the center of the Barrio. It now faced a barren asphalt freeway flanked by a 40 foot high cement retaining wall. According to Victor Ochoa, a Chicano Park mural coordinator from 1974 through 1979,” They threw Interstate 5 in the barrio, taking something like 5000 families out of the barrio."
When the Coronado Bridge, which intersects Interstate 5 in the very heart of Logan Heights, was completed in 1969, and with that it left a jungle of concrete pillars where many families had lived before. It wouldn’t be until 2011 and 2012 that the murals and everything there would be completely restored. Nowadays, Chicano Park has become a beautiful must see stopping place for travelers, but still with all of the beautiful murals. However, of all the visitors to the park, not many people really know what happened and how Chicano Park became what it is today.
Barrio Logan is one of the largest Chicano populated neighborhoods in America, and is number 1 in the city of San Diego. The land that the park is built on is a result of the people of Barrio Logan protesting and demanding an area where they could respect their culture. The area given to them is now called Chicano Park and is under several bridges and freeways. Even though it is under a freeway the people have made it an amazing place. Local artists have painted large art murals that represent their culture. If you are lucky enough to see some of these amazing murals you will be instantly hit with the feeling of awe as your eyes go from mural to mural. But with all that said the people continue to use the park and ensure that it is free from development even though the neighborhood surrounding it continues to grow.
Every year there is an annual celebration much like a street fair with dancing, food and music as people continue to enjoy the park. If you do come to the park during its celebration then you will be instantly hit with the smell of mouth watering food as your stomach starts to growl. Your eyes dart from place to place as you see the streets filled with people and food stands. And sometimes you can even catch a glimpse of an artist working on a beautiful painting or even another mural. As you continue to walk down the park you start to get a feeling of happiness as you see many people celebrating the culture and having fun. “Chicano Park Day began in 1971 to commemorate the initial park occupation the year before and to celebrate the preservation of the community’s culture as well as neighborhood pride. Also individuals come to Barrio Logan from all over to celebrate and swap stories."
In addition Chicano Park is one of the most breathtaking spots in San Diego even though only a small amount of people know about its history. It is strange to think that if the bridges were never built then all of the new murals would have never been made. Their concrete pillars and walls made the perfect canvas for breathtaking murals and shade for people to enjoy. You should visit it sometime and see for yourself.
Before we end this report (and this recording) we would like to talk about the word Chicano because there's a lot of history behind it. It used to be a term for a Mexican American, but Chicanos fought to use the word as a state of mind and a more universal term. One person who fought for the term chicano was Tommie Camarillo who was bullied at school and called names that were often racist. So she had her mind set on the term Chicano. Calling her or any other Mexicans Latine, Latinos or Latinx she feels like she’s still not being respected. A lot of other Mexicans think that terms like Latinx groups Mexicans together and does not feel universal and fair. Today the word Chicano is more universal and it means you don’t have to be more Mexican or more of a different race, it means that you are Chicano and you are a part of the Chicanos and you always will be. This shows that we are the next generation and we will carry on the battle for the word Chicano because whether you like it or not, the battle has been handed to us and we must carry it on through many generations of Chicanos, we are in this together. Thank you for listening. This is dedicated to Tommie Camarillo.
Anything in quotations is not mine please go check out the original website for where that information was gathered from.
The pictures do not belong to me please go check out https://www.tclf.org/chicano-park to see more pictures of the park.
Citation for pictures:
The cultural landscaping, Foundation. “Chicano Park.” Chicano Park Landscape, n.d., https://www.tclf.org/chicano-park.
Citation for information:
Association , Chicano park. “Chicano Park National Landmark.” Chicano Park National Landmark, n.d., https://www.sandiego.org/articles/parks-gardens/chicano-park.aspx.
Chicano Park , Steering Committee. Chicano Park Brief History , 2021, http://www.chicano-park.com/cpscbattleof.html.
Citation for picture : Chicano Park, San Diego. %2nd Annual Chicano Park Day Virtual Celebration, 2022 https://www.sandiego.org/explore/events/festivals-and-street-fairs/chicano-park-day.aspx
Bella, Aubrey, Caden, Jayden, Julian, Humberto and Kermit