Community Fundraiser Set for August 13 at Bread & Salt
By Brent E. Beltrán
The Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center is coming to Barrio Logan next door to Chicano Park. The City and museum have yet to sign a lease over the property that for years held the Cesar Chavez Continuing Education Center. But it will happen.
Activists involved with the Chicano Park Steering Committee helped create the nonprofit Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center. Board members include Dr. Alberto Pulido, Delia Cacho Talamantez, Diane Armenta, Helen Gonzales Vertiz, Hector Villegas, Jesse Constancio, Mario Chacon, Rigo Reyes, Tommie Camarillo, and Josie Talamantez. All of whom have a long history of involvement in Chicano Park and Barrio Logan.
Chicano Park co-founder and lifelong CPSC member Josie Talamantez, who wrote the proposal to place Chicano Park and the Monumental Murals on the National Registry of Historic Sites and recently presented in Washington, DC before the National Landmark review committee (the nomination passed unanimously), is leading the charge to make the museum happen.
Born and raised in what was then one community called Logan Heights (the city now designates the area of Logan Heights west of the I-5 as Barrio Logan) Josie’s family has lived in the community for over 100 years. And she currently sits on the Barrio Logan Community Planning Group as a property owner.
In addition to her commitment to the barrio she is a former executive director of the Centro Cultural de la Raza, was on the board of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, and worked for many years with the California Arts Council. There is no one else in San Diego that understands Chicano Park, Barrio Logan and the intersection of these within the context of the arts and social movements like Josie.
“The Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center is important for Chicanos, Logan Heights, San Diego, the nation and for all international visitors to the area because it documents and tells the history of the defining moment between the relationship of the City of San Diego and the Mexican American/Chicano community of San Diego through the establishment of Chicano Park,” she wrote. “It also documents and tells the history of the Mexican/Mexican-American/Chicano and indigenous contributions to the economic, social, political, cultural and artistic development of the City of San Diego.”
She continues, “In 1970 the negotiations for Chicano Park included the building in Chicano Park and the building kitty corner to the park that is recognized as the Paradise Senior Center. When the Chicano Federation was moved/forced out in 1979/80 members of the Chicano Park Steering Committee — the late Jose Gomez, Chairman at the time, and myself negotiated with the late Dr. Phil del Campo, representing the City of San Diego for the building.”
“We allowed the building to be used by the community college until their new building was built. We just didn’t know it would take 36+ years for them to build their new Cesar Chavez state of the art building and leave us with a building needing more than $4 million in ADA and other repairs and another approximately $4 million in renovation and upgrades.”
Right now the building is in limbo. The City might bid it out to the highest bidder or the City Council and Mayor could take the road of least barrio resistance and use council policy 700.10, 700.12 and designate the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center to be the lease holder.
“The City of San Diego should be honored to house, support and fund this important museum, adding it to the cultural landscape of this city,” Josie states.
“In July the Mayor, in a press release pledged to support San Diego’s parks, ie Mission Beach, listed on National Register along with Balboa Park and Torrey Pines, also listed on the National Register. It’s only fitting that he would support the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center as the new cultural visitor and information center for Chicano Park and it’s Monumental Murals.”
The process has been slow going so far. The Mayor has not been very attentive to the needs and concerns of Barrio Logan residents. And residents are still upset over his nonsupport of Propositions B & C and the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update.
But Josie and the rest of the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center board of directors are moving forward. They believe that is their building and will use whatever means necessary to make it happen. Most were there on April 22, 1970 when they took over a piece of land under the Coronado Bridge. And they’ll be there again soon under the same bridge, this time possibly taking over a building.
On Saturday, August 13 from 5-11pm the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center will host a coming out party at Bread & Salt (1955 Julian Ave.) in Logan Heights to raise funds for their future museum. Local Latin Jazz great Bill Caballero will be providing live music, actor/playwright Herbert Siguenza of Culture Clash will MC the festivities plus there will be DJ’s, an art exhibition, opportunity drawings, tacos by Salud, beer from Border X, Iron Fist, and Thorn breweries, lowriders and a lot more. All that for only $10 (though larger, tax deductible donations are greatly appreciated). For more information on the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center visit their website.