New Book: Charros: How Mexican Cowboys are Remapping Race and American Identity by Laura R. Barraclough

Make sure to check out the interview here: https://newbooksnetwork.com/laura-r-barraclough-charros-how-mexican-cowboys-are-remapping-race-and-american-identity-u-california-press-2019/

In Charros: How Mexican Cowboys Are Remapping Race and American Identity (University of California Press, 2019), Dr. Laura R. Barraclough tells a surprising story about the urban American West. Barraclough, the Sarai Ribicoff Associate Professor in American Studies at Yale University, writes the history of elite Mexican and Mexican-American cowboys – charros – and how charro culture served as a site of contested national identity in the mid twentieth century United States. In Western cities such as Los Angeles, Denver, and San Antonio, Chicano men and women used charro organizations and events as places where one could assert both Mexican and American, as well as middle- and upper-class, identities. Rather than the archetypical image of a white, dusty, cowboy riding alone across a desolate mesa, Charrosportrays a Western ranching culture that is more urban, more flamboyant, more crowded, and less white than many Americans may assume.

Reviewed by Stephen Hausmann for New Books Network.

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New Book: Undocumented Lives The Untold Story of Mexican Migration by Ana Raquel Minian

In the 1970s the Mexican government acted to alleviate rural unemployment by supporting the migration of able-bodied men. Millions crossed into the United States to find work that would help them survive as well as sustain their families in Mexico. They took low-level positions that few Americans wanted and sent money back to communities that depended on their support. But as U.S. authorities pursued more aggressive anti-immigrant measures, migrants found themselves caught between the economic interests of competing governments. The fruits of their labor were needed in both places, and yet neither country made them feel welcome.

Ana Raquel Minian explores this unique chapter in the history of Mexican migration. Undocumented Lives draws on private letters, songs, and oral testimony to recreate the experience of circular migration, which reshaped communities in the United States and Mexico. While migrants could earn for themselves and their families in the U.S., they needed to return to Mexico to reconnect with their homes periodically. Despite crossing the border many times, they managed to belong to communities on both sides of it. Ironically, the U.S. immigration crackdown of the mid-1980s disrupted these flows, forcing many migrants to remain north of the border permanently for fear of not being able to return to work. For them, the United States became known as the jaula de oro—the cage of gold.

Undocumented Lives tells the story of Mexicans who have been used and abused by the broader economic and political policies of Mexico and the United States.

Nuestra Historia: Alonso S. Perales Exhibit

Very cool work coming out of the University of Houston

On May 14, 2019, in a collaboration between the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 60, the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage/Arte Público Press, and SERJobs, members of the community gathered to celebrate the launch of the Alonso S. Perales Digital Archive. Among those in attendance was Perales’ daughter, Marta Perales Carrizales. This digital archive marks the first digitized collection on the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Archives site.

Alonso S. Perales was one of the most prominent US Civil rights leaders of the twentieth century. He was born in Alice, Texas in 1898. Perales served in the US Army during World War I. After his military service, he attended college and law school at the National University (which later became George Washington University). Upon receiving his law degree, Perales became only the third Mexican American to practice law in Texas (Olivas xi). Perales dedicated his life to Mexican American civil rights and empowering the working-class community through knowledge and education. In 1929, Perales co-founded of the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC)–the first nationwide Mexican American civil rights organization, not to mention the largest and oldest US Latino political association. He served as the second LULAC national president from 1930 to 1931 (xiv). In addition to his work in the United States, Perales served as Nicaraguan Consul General for twenty-five years and as counsel to the Nicaraguan delegation to the United Nations in 1945. In addition, he helped draft the original Charter of the United Nations. Perales authored Are We Good Neighbors and two volumes of En defensa de mi raza. His writing stressed the need for anti-discrimination legislation and civil activism for the Latino community.

Alonso S. Perales Collection

The Alonso S. Perales Collection is Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage’s flagship online digital archive. In 2009, Marta Perales Carrizales and Raymond Perales donated their father’s extensive personal papers to the University of Houston’s Recovery Program. This collection, which measures over 40 linear feet, contains correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, civil rights writings, and foundational documents related to LULAC. The online digital collection includes a large sampling of these documents. To facilitate accessibility, the digital documents include full-text transcriptions and bilingual keywords for searches. In the future, more US Latino digital archives will be added to the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections (available at: usldhrecovery.uh.edu). The original Alonso S. Perales Papers are housed at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.

Are We Good Neighbors? Mapping Discrimination Against Mexican Americans in 1940s Texas

Screenshot of Are We Good Neighbors? : Mapping Discrimination Against Mexican Americans in 1940s Texas. https://arcg.is/1C1bbv

Perales’ activism also included the empowerment of his community. He urged people to publicly share experiences of discrimination, including the names and addresses of businesses where they were refused service. Many of the testimonies sworn to him in his capacity as Notary Public appeared in his book, Are We Good Neighbors?

The digital mapping project, Are We Good Neighbors?, uses the information in these testimonials to locate these incidents on a map in an attempt to reveal the embodiment of racism. One after another, these accounts tell stories of everyday life: going out for dinner with family, spending time with friends, looking for employment, or moving to a new house. Yet, for people of Mexican descent, these activities were marked by disgust, hatred, shame, and even violence. This project highlights the personal history of racism, one that takes place in our own neighborhoods to real people, rather than distanced through abstract statistics.

Twitter: @AlonsoSPerales

The Alonso S. Perales Collection Twitter Bot (@AlonsoSPerales) also strives to bring attention to his activism. This Twitter account automatically posts quotations (in English and Spanish) from Perales’ writing and allows his voice to continue to advocate for education, equality, and justice.

The Perales Collection is extremely important for our understanding of the historical trajectory of US Latinx civil rights. The documents in this collection reveal the ways our community refused to remain silent, even in the face of persecution. Civil rights leaders such as Perales fought for justice long before the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The history embedded in this collection is not readily available in K-12 history books. We hope that digital projects such as these can empower our community through education and help Latina/o/x schoolchildren see themselves reflected in US history in a positive light.

Organizers

LULAC is the largest and oldest Hispanic Organization the United States. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 1,000 LULAC councils nationwide.

Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (“Recovery”) is an international program at the University of Houston dedicated to locating, preserving, and disseminating Hispanic cultural documents of the United States written since colonial times until 1980. Recovery in the premier center for research on Latino documentary history in the United States.

Arte Público Press is the oldest and largest Hispanic publisher in the United States. Established in 1979, it is the principal provider of cultural materials on Latino life in the United States for general and educational audiences.

SERJobs is a nonprofit community organization that educates and equips people in the Texas Gulf Coast Region who come from low-income backgrounds or who have significant barriers to employment.

Cómix Latinx: Recovering Latinx History through Comic Biographies

This article by Jennifer Caroccio for Comicosity is super interesting!

 

In 1980 Ana Mendieta was the first Cuban-American artist to return to Cuba after the 1961 Cuban revolution. In 1971 Benjy Melendez held one of the largest meetings of New York City Gangs in the Bronx to discuss a peace agreement. Have you heard of either of these significant Latinx people in a history class or popular media? If yes, then kudos to you. If not, then you like many others, I suspect, are learning their names for the first time. II learned about Ana Mendieta and Bengy Melendez from reading their comic biographies.

Specifically, the graphic narratives Who is Ana Mendieta? written by Christine Redfern and illustrated by Caro Caron, and Ghetto Brothers: Warrior to Peacemakerwritten by Julian Voloj and illustrated by Claudia Ahlering. Both Redfern and Voloj, later with the help of artists Caron and Ahlering, set out to recover the memory of Ana Mendieta and Bengy Melendez; using the graphic form to tell their story.

Biographies are big business in the United States. From the multi-volume works of U.S. presidents to the vast bio-pics at the box office, we love to tell history from the perspective of the individual. So, it makes sense then for biography and comics to merge.

These two books are not the first. There is a large selection of comic biographies out there. However, many of them, like with the rest of comics, lack a focus on people of color.

That is why I have spent the past four years collecting and studying comic biographies about U.S. Latinx people. They make readily accessible the rich Latinx history in the United States. Comics have long been a way to engage different types of readers. Comic biographies offer stories to new comics and history readers alike.

Who is Ana Mendieta? tells the artistic journey of Havana-born artist Ana Mendieta. She came to the United States as a child after the Castro revolution through Operation Pedro Pan (an agreement between the U.S. State department, the Catholic Welfare bureau and the Cuban government that allowed thousands of Cuban minors to immigrate to the United States in the early 1960s).

Caron’s hyperbolic illustrations show Mendieta as she comes of age in Iowa, developing her artistic techniques: first painting then moving on to body and performance art, then later land art—which is her most iconic work: “Siluetas series.” The comic biography shows Mendieta reclaim her Cuban heritage in her work as she moves away from the mainstream white feminist art movement to incorporate more Latin American and Caribbean traditions in her art.

Ghetto Brothers gives readers a glimpse of what it was like to come of age in the Bronx in the 1960s when it was left to burn. Ahlering’s delicate, watercolor drawings show a young Melendez and his Puerto Rican family moving to the Bronx like many other poor and working-class families displaced from lower Manhattan. The reader sees how he navigates everyday violence by entering the protection of a neighborhood gang. He later forms his own interracial gang called the Ghetto Brothers. But it after the death of his friend that he takes up the task of uniting many of the rivaling gangs to curb violence in the city.

The narrative also includes the broader history of city planner Robert Moses, who designed many of the bridges, parks and beaches in New York City and Long Island. Much of Moses plans treated communities of color as disposable—often bulldozing straight through neighborhoods to build expressways that allowed wealthier and white New Yorkers access to the suburbs and beaches.

When read side-by-side these comic biographies not only recover Latinx social actors in history, but also provide alternative histories that show you cannot tell U.S. history without also telling Latinx history.

 

Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio

Absolutely incredible work done here. Please visit the original at this link: https://gothamtogo.com/mapping-resistance-the-young-lords-in-el-barrio-images-by-hiram-maristany-presented-by-miguel-luciano/?fbclid=IwAR1BUPPI7kYlQs4qCDw_20LPUyEGg7CVembsdthHJW-yKXSwv-HHsdyOAT4
by AFineLyneEast HarlemEl BarrioHiram MaristanyPhotographyYoung Lords
Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio ~ Images by Hiram Maristany. This image located on 99th Street, just west of Second Avenue, on the side wall of PS 109

Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio is a new public art project featuring photographs by renowned photographer, Hiram Maristany ~ a founding member of the Young Lords and their official photographer. Follow along as we take the walking tour, map in hand to view 10 large-scale images across five locations in El Barrio.

Beginning on East 99th Street

Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio ~ Images by Hiram Maristany. This image located on 99th Street, just west of Second Avenue, on the east side wall of PS 109

The Young Lords New York were a revolutionary group of Puerto Rican activists inspired by the Black Panthers, who organized for social justice in El Barrio in the late 1960s to the early 1970s. They organized around issues of political liberation and core community concerns such as health, food, education and housing. The image above is entitled March to Free the Panther 21 taken by Hiram Maristany in 1969. It has been installed on the side of PS 109 (215 East 99th Street), an abandoned school transformed into an affordable housing complex of live/work space for local artists.

Moving east on 99th Street between First and Second Avenues, The first public campaign of the Young Lords became the Garbage Offensive, 1969 (two large images below). While wealthier communities had regular trash pickup, East Harlem and other poor communities of color throughout the city were left with trash piling up.

Photos 1 & 2: The Garbage Offensive, 1969 by Hiram Maristany on view on 99th Street between First & Second Avenues

In protest, the Young Lords confronted the local NYC Sanitation depot ~ 111th Street at Third Avenue, and together with the community, they swept the garbage into the middle of the street, forming a barricade that halted traffic.

Photo 1: The Garbage Offensive, 1969 by Hiram Maristany on view on 99th Street between First and Second Avenue

They set the barricade on fire, forcing the police and fire department to intervene, and they mobilized the press to document the event.

Photo 2: the Garbage Offensive, 1969 by Hiram Maristany on view on 99th Street between First and Second Avenues

111th Street

111th Street at Second Avenue ~ Machito Square

Continuing on to 111th Street, corner of Second Avenue, a large-format image of the Garbage Offensive is on view on the wall of Experts Knights Collision.

111th Street, corner of 3rd Avenue on the wall of Experts Knights Collision ~ Image of The Garbage Offensive

Lexington Avenue at 111th Street (below) is a corner filled with history. In the image below, to the right, sit the 1st Spanish United Methodist Church ~ briefly occupied by the Young Lords in 1969 and 1970. The historic church is currently on the back-burner of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, with continuing discussion about the merit of historic cultural significance as it pertains to the Young Lords.

Sitting in the shadow of the Monument Art Project image of Nuyorican writer, Nicholasa Mohr, and directly across the street from ‘The People’s Church’ ~ Mapping Resistance installation

Below is a closeup of the image of Young Lords marching to the Bronx in support of members of the Black Panther Party, 1967.

Image of member of The Young Lords marching to the Bronx to support members of the Black Panther Party, 1967 ~ Photo credit: Hiram Maristany

We can’t leave this corner without posting the image below of Nuyorican writer, Nicholasa Mohr, on the side of the school located on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 111th Street, as part of the Monument Art Project in 2015.

Nuyorican writer Nicholasa Mohr ~ part of Monument Art Project

112th Street

The largest portion of the installation is located on Madison Avenue at 112th Street

The largest of the Mapping Resistance installations is location on Madison Avenue at 112th Street (above), on the fence of an empty lot where permits were recently filed to build a fifteen-story, mixed-use building.

Hiram Maristany: Take Over of the TB Testing Truck, 1970 on view at 112th Street & Madison Avenue

Many of the images at this site relate to the Young Lords seizing a T B Truck in 1970. The underutilized truck, was only open part-time, not serving the community. The mobile unit was seized at 116th street and set up across the street from the Young Lords Headquarters on Madison Avenue at 111th Street. The technicians assigned to that mobil unit continued to take X-rays.

When the Young Lords were done, the mobile unit extended its days and hours to 9am to 9pm every weekday.

Mapping Resistance at Madison Avenue and 111th Street

Below is a wonderfully thought out walking map, with the installations set to give those taking the walking tour a nice slice of El Barrio.

Mapping Resistance: The Young Lords in El Barrio, photographs by Hiram Maristany, commemorating the activist history of the Young Lords, was organized by artist Miguel Luciano, with support from the Surdna FoundationA Blade of Grass and El Museo del Barrio. The installation will be on view through September 30, 2019. Information on the images at each site, in English and Spanish.

The window of Hunter East Harlem Gallery during its exhibition, Anchor ~ photographs by Hiram Maristany

Related programming including tours, to be announced. Take a look back at 50 years of photographs taken by the photographer, Hiram Maristany, of his home in el Barrio at the exhibition, Anchor, which was on view at Hunter East Harlem Gallery in 2015.

Don’t get lost, get a map of East Harlem (post cards of the East Harlem Map will be sold at Amuse Bouche in La Marqueta beginning June 1st)

Latinx: The Future is Now series…

This looks awesome. Can’t wait to see some of the publications that come out of this!

https://utpressnews.blogspot.com/2019/04/announcing-new-serieslatinx-future-is.html?fbclid=IwAR3d5gKu0TnZfPRLceJmwefRryKka5adSvYNoCV5UGEjyWIxft7_qGQqvek

Announcing a New Series—Latinx: The Future is Now

Latinx: The Future Is Now is a new interdisciplinary series devoted to the evolving field of Latina/o/x studies, including Central American, Afro-Latinx, and Asian-Latinx studies. Situated at the nexus of cultural, performance, historical, food, environmental, and textual studies, the series will focus on ways in which the racial, cultural, and social formations of historical Latinx communities can engage and enhance scholarship across geographies and nationalities. The series editors invite projects that consider the multiple queer and gender-fluid possibilities that are embodied in the “x”; projects that have a feminist critique of patriarchy at the center of their intellectual work; projects that deploy a relational approach to ethnic and national groups; and projects that address the overlapping dynamics of gender, race, sexual, and national identities.

Submissions or queries may be directed to the series editors, Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez, ngh24@austin.utexas.edu and Lorgia Garcia-Peña, garciapena@fas.harvard.edu in addition to Senior Acquisitions Editor, Kerry Webb, kwebb@utpress.utexas.edu.

Forthcoming books in the series will be listed here as they are published: https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/series/latinx-future-now.

# # #

Dr. Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández is Associate Professor of American Studies and Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. She is an expert in Borderlands History after 1846, Transnational Feminist Methodologies, Latinx Studies, and Popular Culture and Immigration. As a public intellectual, Dr. Guidotti-Hernández has written numerous articles for the feminist magazine Ms. and the feminist blog The Feminist Wire, covering such topics as immigration, reproductive rights, and the Dream act. She also sits on the national advisory council for the Ms. and is currently on the national advisory council for Freedom University in Athens, Georgia.

Dr. Lorgia Garcia-Peña is the Roy G. Clouse Associate Professor of Latinx Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of  award-winning book The Borders of Dominicanidad and the co-founder of Freedom University Georgia, a modern-day freedom school created to support undocumented students.

Historic Mexican & Mexican American Press

Looking to do some research? Check out this new digital collection being put forth by the University of Arizona:

The Historic Mexican and Mexican American Press collection documents and showcases historic Mexican and Mexican American publications published in Tucson, El Paso, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sonora, Mexico from the mid-1800s to the 1970s.

http://www.library.arizona.edu/contentdm/mmap/?fbclid=IwAR0-8y-aUGpEZyJL6TEeUvvT2_r50YEqowfU8LcQM2XczD_jvy60C5CKuWU

Book Rev. of Carrie Gibson’s El Norte

check out this book review by Charles Kaiser for The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/mar/16/el-norte-review-carrie-gibson-epic-history-hispanic-north-america?fbclid=IwAR14Po233gYfVSp8UyPtlQ97yPaGNhw0QdShUQGSOhOxQc0swLmc_EZCwz8

The subtitle of Carrie Gibson’s book is The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America. El Norte lives up to it.

These 437 pages are an important correction to centuries of American history which have mostly neglected the vital role of Spanish pioneers (and Native Americans) in favor of settlers from England, Ireland and Scotland. As the author quotes Walt Whitman, Americans long ago tacitly abandoned themselves “to the notion that our United States have been fashioned from the British Islands … which is a great mistake …

“To that composite American identity of the future, Spanish character will supply some of the most needed parts.”

This book proves Whitman’s prescience in a hundred ways: the history of Hispanics in the US is indeed “not a separate history of outsiders or interlopers, but one that is central to how the United States has developed”.

The first surprise is the role of Spain in the revolutionary war. In Paris in December 1776, Benjamin Franklin met in secret with the Count of Aranda, quickly convincing him Spain needed to side with the Americans. Ships leaving New England already called at Spanish ports such as Bilbao and Cádiz to purchase cod and flour. Soon their holds were also bulging with millions of reales’ worth of bullets, gunpowder, bombs, rifles and tents. Three years later, the Spanish governor in New Orleans, Bernardo de Gálvez, sent 1,300 men to attack British outposts in west Florida.

Of course, Gibson’s narrative begins much earlier, when the Spanish began their forays into the New World. The author reminds us that the indigenous urban culture of what is now Mexico was much more advanced than anything the conquistadors left behind in Europe.

Tenochtitlan (on the site of Mexico City) had a population of 150,000, “far larger than any European city”. Hernán Cortés arrived there in 1519 and reported to the crown he could “not describe one-hundredth of all the things which could be mentioned”, including a market where “more than 60,000 people come each day to buy and sell, and where every kind of merchandise … is found: provisions as well as … ornaments of gold and silver, lead, brass, copper, tin stones, shells bones and feathers”. When he met Emperor Moctezuma, Cortés was taken to a “vast compound of palaces, apartments, libraries, warehouses, and even a zoo”.

With the typical solicitude of the invader, Cortés soon kidnapped Moctezuma. But he was forced to retreat in 1520, after a battle that killed 400 Spaniards and thousands of Tlaxcala soldiers. A year later, Cortés returned. A plague in the Valley of Mexico would eventually kill millions. The capital fell.

Gibson paints an extremely broad canvas over eight centuries, from early Spanish colonies in Florida and the founding of Louisiana to the battle between the US and Mexico over Texas and Hispanic settlements in California. She reminds us of the immense diversity of Native American culture before the arrival of all Europeans. There were probably 300,000 Native Americans in Alta California before the Spanish arrived, and they spoke “roughly 90 languages under the umbrella of seven broader linguistic families”.

A statue of the 18th-century Spanish missionary Father Junipero Serra at Mission San Juan Capistrano, in California.
 A statue of the 18th-century Spanish missionary Father Junípero Serra at Mission San Juan Capistrano, in California. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

The natives offered resistance. In 1772, a priest in San Diego wrote that Spanish troops “deserve to be hanged on account of the continuous outrages which they are committing in seizing and raping the women”. Three years later, 600 natives attacked the mission with “so many arrows that you could not possibly count them”. The mission burned but it was rebuilt five years later, and by 1823 there were 21 such sites up and down the California coast, “almost all of them concerned with the conversion and subsequent labor of the Indians”. Los Angeles and San José de Guadalupe, on the southern edge of San Francisco, were established for civilian settlement.

Gibson also reminds us of the racism which has underpinned the Mexican-American relationship for at least 200 years.

“Whiteness in the United States,” she writes, “became bound up with the idea of manifest destiny and providence, that the Anglo-Protestants were somehow chosen to spread themselves across the continent.” In 1847, during the Mexican-American war, the American Review said: “Mexico was poor, distracted, in anarchy and almost in ruins” and asked: “What could she do … to impede the march of our greatness?

“We are Anglo-Saxon Americans; it was our ‘destiny’ to possess and to rule this continent … We were a chosen people, and this was our allotted inheritance, and we must drive out all other nations.”

This point of view persists. In the 2000s, the historian Samuel Huntington wrote that “America was created by … settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British and Protestant” – and therefore the arrival of Hispanics in large numbers remained a direct threat. Huntington denigrated such immigrants as people with “dual nationalities and dual loyalties”, because of their Spanish language and Catholic religion.

Of course no recent public figure has done more to stoke such prejudices than our current president. Gibson’s sprawling work makes a major contribution by reminding us of the falseness of Donald Trump’s xenophobic narrative. Her rich account leaves no doubt that America is a vastly more interesting place because of the millions of Hispanic immigrants who have been arriving on our shores for more than 600 years.

Founding of Los Angeles: Truth in Black and Brown

Original article by Jarrette Fellows Jr. for the Compton Herald can be found here: https://comptonherald.org/truth-los-angeles-genesis/?fbclid=IwAR2G-_oKIVwPYB4ekmMBEUk0m0UOQtmC4uUlDWy650RndpOdQX-bivzagac
The 44 pobladores arriving in Los Angeles in 1781 were 11 mulatto and mestizo families — including children. The majority were mulatto.

The truth of the founding of Los Angeles and a shameful omission was not uncovered until the city’s 1982 Bicentennial Commemoration

Los Angeles is a remarkable megalopolis with a population topping 4 million in 2019 with a vibrant tapestry of cultures and ethnicities from around the globe. The city had a humble beginning with the arrival of a contingent of dusty travelers from Sinaloa, Mexico on Sept. 4, 1781 — the 44 Original Pobladores or settlers, whom local historians would not accurately identify for another 200 years. It was part of the city’s Shadow History Angelinos never knew — that the bloodline of Africa contributed significantly to the emergence of Los Angeles.

The racial backlash against Africans — who had no say in their forced removal from Africa — persisted all the way to the seeding and germination of the “City of the Angels.” The original plaque at Olvera Street commemorating “Los Pobladores” or settlers, for many years, harbored a shameful omission — never referencing the African heritage of the original settlersThe historic “Los Pobladores Walk to Los Angeles” a tradition that commemorates the final nine miles of the great trek to California by the settlers, occurs each year over the Labor Day weekend, which coincides with the Sept. 4 anniversary of the city’s founding.

The commemoration was organized in 1981 by the Los Pobladores 200, an association comprised of the descendants of the 44 Original Pobladores and six-soldier detail that ushered them to California, then a territory of Mexico known as Alta, California. Los Angeles and the City of San Gabriel join together to celebrate the pobladoresfinal miles to the city center.

Los Pobladores 200 proudly embraced their forebears until they were confronted by a cloistered secret that a fringe minority of Mexicans down through the years never discussed beyond a whisper — that “black blood” or African DNA was infused in Mexican society. The contention did not sit well with Los Pobladores 200 whose members considered themselves traditionally Mexican with indigenous roots and/or a blend of Indigenous and Spanish. For decades historians of Mexican culture had rejected the notion of an African angle.

Eventually, scholars from the Los Angeles area, including professors from the University of Southern California, and California State University, Dominguez Hills, part of a sub-committee formed during a citywide effort to commemorate L.A.’s Bicentennial anniversary in 198l, became concerned and endeavored to set the record straight. Unfortunately, divulging the true history of the original pobladores was “a political hot potato,” according to the late Dr. Doyce Nunis, Jr., professor emeritus of California history at the time at the University of Southern California.

Nunis said, “The descendants of Los Pobladores were very sensitive to the prospect of being revealed as having African roots. But history is history — you cannot change it. And the subcommittee found the evidence.”

The highly qualified team had been assembled by Nunis to establish the indisputable truth about the contributions of Black-Mexicans to the seeding and nurturing of colonial Los Angeles. The multiracial ethnicity of the pobladores was considered a fallacy by the scholarly establishment and never accepted until explicit census information was found in an archive in Seville, Spain. Documents there confirmed that 11 families recruited by Felipe de Neve, the first Spanish governor of Alta California, arrived from the Mexican provinces of Sinaloa and Sonora.

Los Pobladores 200 is reticent to this day to discuss the subcommittee’s groundbreaking findings.

Nunis asked a former student, Donald T. Hata, in 1978 to chair the Pobladores Subcommittee for the City of Los Angeles and to research and draft a commemorative plaque to honor the pobladores for the City’s Bicentennial celebration in 1981. They helped to replace the old plaque on display at Olvera Street with the current one which accurately depicts the multiracial make up of the founders, and the inclusion of the Third Root from Africa in Mexican history, and by extension, Los Angeles.

Olvera Street was a favorite destination for elementary school “field trips” prior to 1981 for children from throughout L.A. County. Prior to 1981, Black pupils from the city’s urban core were not privileged to the truth that Black-Mexicans were not only involved in the colonizing of Los Angeles but were the dominant settlers in the city’s founding. This writer was one of those students who traveled to Olvera Street for field trips on several occasions during my years attending Clara Barton Hill Elementary in San Pedro, Calif.

It should be noted, the African connection occurred when more than 200,000 slaves from Africa were exported to colonial Mexico by Spain in the 15th century to labor in the sugar cane fields and silver mines. The region was colonized in 1519. Over time, the African slaves revolted against their Spanish enslavers, gained freedom, but never returned to Africa.

Inter-marriage with both Spaniards and indigenous resulted in mulatto and Zambo cultures, respectively. The inter-mix of indigenous people and Spaniards birth the mestizo culture. The 44 pobladores arriving in Los Angeles in 1781 were 11 mulatto and mestizo families — including children. The majority were mulatto.

Serving with Hata on the subcommittee was an A-team of scholars, that included Miriam Matthews, the first African American to earn a degree in library science at USC, who went on to have an illustrious career as a librarian and archivist of African American history in Los Angeles. Matthews helped to document the city’s multiracial origins, listing all of the pobladores by name, race, sex, and age.

Hata would go on to earn a doctorate in history and stellar achievement on the way to earning the distinction as an emeritus professor of history at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Matthews, who died in 2003 at age 98, also amassed a collection of approximately 4,600 black-and-white photographs documenting the African American experience in Los Angeles and California, including images depicting the founding of the city, African American stagecoach drivers and overland guides to California, and the multiracial Californio family of Pio Pico, the wealthy Black-Mexican landowner for whom the City of Pico Rivera and Pico Boulevard are named.

The team also included David Almada, a Los Angeles Unified School District administrator serving at a time when few Latinos served in such positions; and historian Leonard Pitt, an emeritus professor of history at California State University, Northridge and author of Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californians, 1846-1890. Pitt died in July 2015 at 85.

The truth of the city’s founding was a milestone set in stone, one of Nunis’ signature achievements. The esteemed historian died on Jan. 22, 2011 at age 86.

The voice of history resounded. While the First and Second Roots of Indigenous and Spaniard, respectively formed colonial Mexico initially, with the “Third Root” from Africa infusing into the culture later in the 15th century,  indeed the Third Root would find its way to California by way of Mexico and plow historically into the fertile ground that spawned the great City of Los Angeles.

That sealed the truth forever.

April 6th: San Antonio Book Fair

Now’s not a bad time to play a trip to San Antonio. And if you’re there on April 6th, make sure you stop by the free book fair! The lineup features Carmen Tafolla, Meg Medina, Julissa Arce, David Bowles, Oscar Cásares, Reyna Grande, Jean Guerrero, and I could go on and on. Shoot, check out the list right here!

https://festival.saplf.org/news/san-antonio-book-festival-announces-2019-lineup/

What a great way to spend the day talking books and meeting authors!

The 7th annual San Antonio Book Festival will take place on April 6, 2019 at the Central Library (600 Soledad) and Southwest School of Art in beautiful downtown San Antonio. The Festival runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.