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Barrio Logan's Chicano Park: The Efforts To Cement Its History

Mural in Chicano Park.
Angela Carone
Mural in Chicano Park.
Barrio Logan’s Chicano Park: The Efforts To Cement Its History
Barrio Logan's Chicano Park: The Efforts To Cement Its History GUEST: Josephine Talamantez, member, Chicano Park Steering Committee

Barrio Logan Chicano Park will be celebrated annual Chicano Park day cultural celebration this weekend. Some believe it's rich history should be remembered year-round. They think it deserves a Museum. Supporters have just the spot picked out a building adjacent to the park recently vacated by the community college District. Joining me is Josie Talamantez with the Chicano Park steering committee and Josie welcomed to the program. What do you envision would be in a Chicano Park Museum? At this point we are focusing on art history and science as well as a cultural center for culturally events horticulture, traditional teaching, peering up elders with the next generation. We look at art because the Museum -- the marrows themselves are -- is truly an open-air museum plus we will look at rotating exhibition science primarily because the pillars are the canvas on which the marrows are painted. Children need to know about engineering and science. And the proximity to the bay. We will look at water culture environment and then of course history is to preserve the history of Logan Heights. San Diego City Councilman David arroz says there are two buses that come to the park every two days to see the marrows and the statues. What purpose do you see that this Chicano Park Museum fulfilling for the people who visit? An open air Museum needs an information center. As the public comes and they look here is the Museum with information, dioramas, with exhibition and interaction to provide a better understanding of what took place to create the park and the history of the community that still surrounds the park. Because even though this is apparently a tourist attraction people come to see it, there's nothing there that speaks besides perhaps the stories in the marrows to how the park was created. That's correct. In 2013 Chicano Park Andy Chicano Park monumental murals were listed on the national registers a lot of attention is coming forth. What we are doing is also going forward for landmark status. The second week of May the national landmark program will review Chicano Park as a potential national landmark. We need content and information for people to have access to understand why this park is so important. Many years ago when they were looking at retrofitting bridges and spans under the peak of Wilson administration because one of the bridges had fallen they looked at Chicano Park and they didn't understand it they called it graffiti on walls until a cultural historian lucks and said these are not graffiti on walls these are master artists. From there we have gone forward and documented. Announced important for the public -- in people coming from outside the country to understand the significance. We have been covered in National Geographic and different places. A lot of times our own community does not understand what took place to create this park. You would like to see the city lease the building to your nonprofit. Without taking other beds how likely is that? I'm not sure. You need to understand that in 1979 we were in the park Chicano Park was in a Chicano Federation. At that time I was the director of the center called trial and we were negotiating with the late Dr. Phil do compo with the Dean of community colleges. We agreed to let them use the building even though we were in there after the Federation moved out with the understanding that the building would come back to the community to provide services for the community. We didn't know it would take 37 years. Once we understood they were leaving we began working with the previous Mayor who did not last and the city Council people and legislators from Sacramento and congressional leaders from DC to look at this building at the Museum. There is a process. It's Council policy 700.10 or 700.12 that says that it can't happen without a bid process. The Council can designate. My contention is we negotiated at the time that it would come back and now it's time for the Council and the Mayor to reciprocate, to honor the verbal agreement that we made when we allowed committee colleges to use the building. A closest the city to a decision on this? Is still going to a process right now. There's a little bit of upgrades taking place that have been held up. It will not start until June. The bid process probably will not take place until the end of the year but we are going forward. We are trying to secure the national landmark status and we are doing fundraising, we are educating the community, we have got a website. We are working with social media and we will probably create virtual museum activities to take place. We are partnering with community colleges and other institutions via international. I just want to ask you we have just a few seconds left -- tell us when the celebration takes place this weekend? Anytime anybody thinks of Earth Day do not think of Earth Day if you're from San Diego think of Chicano Park day April 22 April 22, 1970 is when we took over. We always celebrate the Saturday closest to that date which is this Saturday April 22, 1970 is when we took over. We always celebrate the Saturday closest to that date which is this Saturday, April 23 from 10 AM to 5 PM and Chicano Park and Logan Heights. I've been speaking with Joe Zeta element day with the Chicano Park steering committee.

In 1970, protesters in Barrio Logan defied authorities by occupying the land that is now Chicano Park. They were fighting the city of San Diego's plan to build a California Highway Patrol station. After 12 days of protests, the sub-station project was killed and a community park was born.

It’s that rich history that the Chicano Park Steering Committee aims to preserve in a museum. The online news site Voice of San Diego first reported this week that community members have their eyes on a vacant city building that sits at the edge of the park.

As the community gets ready to celebrate the 46th annual Chicano Park Day this weekend, Josephine Talamantez with the Chicano Park Steering Committee discusses the future of a Chicano Park museum and potential obstacles, KPBS Midday Edition Thursday.