Decades in Making, San Diego Museum will Honor Chicano Community and MovementHistorians in the News
tags: San Diego, public history, Mexican American history, Chicano movement, Latino/a history, Chicano history
On any given day, Chicano Park in San Diego is filled with families and gleeful children enjoying its grassy picnic areas, playgrounds, and sports areas, including a concrete skate park. Nestled under the transition ramps between Interstate 5 and the foot of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in the historically Mexican-American working-class community of Barrio Logan, the park not only represents neighborhood’s vitality, it’s also a visible testament to a decades-old legacy of resistance against dislocation and displacement that has not only shaped the character of the surrounding community, but also forever changed its trajectory.
Fifty-two years ago on April 22, 1970, Barrio residents, alongside a coalition comprised of hundreds of students, community activists, Brown Berets, and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) collectively staged a successful 12-day people’s land takeover to thwart the construction of a California Highway Patrol substation on land where the city of San Diego had promised to build a public park for barrio residents. Thanks in part to the protest, the city of San Diego agreed to acquire the site from the state and develop it into a park for the Chicano community.
Today Chicano Park is widely regarded as a monument to the self-determination and self-empowerment of Chicano people in the U.S. The concrete pillars that uphold the Coronado Bridge that once sliced and divided the community are now adorned with the iconic murals that have made Chicano Park an anchor for the community’s strong Chicano identity and its revolutionary spirit and history.
But while Chicano Park has grown and expanded alongside the neighborhood and received a National Historic Landmark designation from the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2017, the park and its illustrious collection of intricate murals continued to lack an official space dedicated to documentation and preservation of its history. Most recently on Oct. 8, Chicano Park opened the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center (CPMCC).
Organizers and community members hope the museum will document the history of Chicano Park and continue educating future generations about Barrio Logan’s history. For many, the successful opening of the CPMCC encapsulates the neighborhood’s long legacy of community organizing and self-determination to successfully overcome institutional forces that historically have attempted to relegate the barrio and its residents to what many would consider second citizenry.