Sunday, my daughter and I visited La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the first Mexican American Cultural Center in Downtown Los Angeles.
This cultural center had a wonderful exhibit in which we learned the history of California. We learned that when the U.S. won the war against Mexico, it obtained California through the treaty of Guadalupe Hildago in 1848. It also showed the formation of Los Angeles through out the years including the time that affected me in my childhood, the late ’70’s racial discrimination and the chicano movement.
It brought back pretty intense memories of when I was young. While I had to walk to school when I was in the 8th grade, there was one house that I would always pass by and the caucasian boy who lived there would always shout out to me “Go back to Mexico” or call me “wetback”. I really didn’t like walking to school and having to pass by his house everyday. Although I knew how ignorant he was, it was nevertheless frustrating to past by his house. I made sure my daughter knew about this time in my life. I also told her of the prejudice my mother, younger sister and I encountered when we were looking for a place to live and how some caucasian people didn’t want to rent to anyone who wasn’t like them. My daughter and I went and read everything in this section of the exhibit.
Another section in this exhibit was on the migrant farm workers. My daughter pointed to a picture and asked me who the man in the picture was, I told her he was Cesar Chavez and I explained to her what he did to garner a spot in this exhibit. I told her about how I boycotted grapes to show support of the migrant farm workers and to show support to my older aunts and uncles who, when they were younger, were migrant farm workers with my grandfather as well. I explained to her how Cesar Chavez helped to bring better treatment to the migrant farm workers.
In the end, she learned about California history and a little more about her own family history and we had a blast. It had fun, interactive displays throughout the exibit as well.
I would recommend La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, (213)542-6200 to anyone interested in the development of Los Angeles, California from mexican territory to statehood and in mexican-american culture and history. 🙂