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News and Views from the People's Struggle

54th Chicano Park anniversary held in San Diego

By Alex Orellana and Henry Cornejo

A crowd of individuals, small groups, and families hang out under an overpass that has intricate graffiti art depicting Chicano history and points of pride.

San Diego, CA – On April 20, thousands of people descended on Chicano Park, located in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego, California. The scene was lively, with vendors selling food and refreshments and music playing throughout the park. The colorful murals were complemented by a variety of low riders and customized vehicles.

The historical and cultural significance of Chicano Park dates to April 22, 1970. For years, the community of Barrio Logan wanted a park built for its families. During the construction of the Interstate 5 freeway, the community rallied and fought back. The city, in exchange, was forced to grant the space underneath the bridge to build the park. But the project lay dormant for years until a community member noticed construction was taking place and realized it was for a California Highway Patrol station. Once again, the community fought against this and won. The city later approved the park to be built.

In 1970, the Chicano Park Steering Committee was founded. From that point on, local artists began to paint the pillars that held up Coronado Bridge with murals showcasing Chicano history and Chicano pride. Over the years several key figures of the community have upheld the quality of the Chicano Park.

The community has kept the park from being taken over by the city of San Diego. In the 1980s, the park was deemed a historical landmark by the San Diego Site Board. Its detailed murals were also officially recognized by the San Diego Public Advisory Board. Finally in 2013, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places due to its significance to the Chicano movement. Additionally, a museum and a cultural center were established after the park’s being designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016.

Today, thousands have come to celebrate Chicano Park Day. The official day, April 22, is celebrated by the Chicano people by putting on live music, dances, ceremonies and lowrider car displays. Rain Mendoza, member of Orange County CSO, exclaimed, “This year’s Chicano Park Day was filled with cultural pride, with hundreds of Chicanos showing up in brown pride attire, sharing images of Aztlán, and congregating to celebrate the accomplishments of La Raza!”

Aztlán is commonly referred to as the territory of the Chicano nation. It is the Mexican territory that became the U.S. after the signing of the February 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Since 1848, a shared connection among the Chicano people within this area continues to grow and is evident, especially during events like Chicano Park Day.

As those in the festivities put it simply, Chicano Park is an achievement of decades of constant struggle against Chicanos oppressors. Its murals are displayed around the park, featuring Aztlán as a nation with a rich culture and history. Chicano Park stands as a place for its people to learn and cultivate their history for future generations to come.

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