From El Concilio de Fresno
The Local Chicano Planning Committee was formed by El Concilio de Fresno to coordinate the second symposium event titled “Chicano History: Revisited in Fresno County.” This event will cover the period of 1971–1974 with a series of discussions on “The Campesinos Awaking,” “Coming of Age: El Movimiento Estudiantil” and “The Empowerment of Self-Determination.” This free public event will be held at the Mosqueda Community Center (4760 E. Butler Ave.) on Aug. 30 from noon to 5 p.m.
Chicano History: Revisited in Fresno County will be a multimedia documentary to honor the history of unsung heroes committed to the social and political changes of the 1960s and 1970s in Fresno County. The program will focus on Chicano leadership and those who were instrumental supporters of la causa (the cause). Those who gave time, sweat, energy and, in some cases, even their life for the Chicano Movimiento.
The purpose of the event is to recognize the legacy of Chicanos in Fresno County by providing a historical, educational and cultural context to the salient issues in the struggle for social justice. Also, it will informing youth and young adults that through persistence, personal sacrifice, dedication and focus on goals, both personal and community objectives can be realized toward building a stronger community.
The Planning Committee is also attempting to archive the Chicano History: Revisited in Fresno County and continues to document and collect historical materials. Eventually, this collection will be placed at the San Joaquin Valley Heritage and Genealogy Center at the Fresno County Library Main Branch.
Creative and talented individuals are sought to assist in documenting history, including help from the general public in making donations of historical materials related to the period 1966–1974. These donations can come in many forms: news articles, magazines, books, flyers or slides, tapes, films, photos, posters and bottoms. If necessary, materials can be scanned and returned. Deliveries can be made to the Chicano Youth Center (1515 Divisadero Ave.) by contacting Brenda Flores at 559-307-3022.
To participate on this committee, meetings are held Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. at the Chicano Youth Center. For more information, call 559-486-5350.
Belly of the Monster
At 62 years of age, Jose Luis Barraza understands clearly the full meaning of the phrase, “We are living in the belly of the monster.” It’s a phrase used in the 1970s that motivated and unified people into a movement—El Chicano Movimiento. It symbolized the deplorable conditions in this country—the colonialized servitudes of the elite.
Those forces of El Movimiento brought about a conscious awareness of the injustice in this country. It inspired the recognition that Chicanos must take their rightful place society and if not then remain a commodity to be exploited for generations to come. This was the self-determination that defined Chicano destiny, and there were positive results in this period of history.
Things have now come full circle and globalization has a much bigger belly to fill and its economic activity is increasingly controlled by decisions made at the global level and by powerful interests, many of which have their homes based in places far removed from local communities.
Important economic and political forces also arise from within local communities that can account for change. These current conditions, such as the housing crisis, the great recession and three current years of drought have compounded personal lives and especially the drought has affected many farmworking families.
What was faced back then is different from what people face today, and the challenges are far greater. Time is needed to reflect and harness and modify those experiences of the past with the challenges faced today.
Chicano History: Revisited in Fresno County is not a reunion; rather, it’s a reunification of the continued commitment of Chicanos to improve the conditions of the people.
For more information about Chicano History Revisited, contact 559-360-9797 or 559-250-2434 or visit www.facebook.com/groups/ChicanoHistoryRevisitedFresnoCounty/.
El Concilio de Fresno is a respected nonprofit advocacy organization serving as a voice for more than 180,000 Latinos living in Fresno County. El Concilio believes that our society becomes a better place in which to live when Latinos, the poor and other disenfranchised people have the opportunity to contribute and participate in the total society and share in its benefits. For more information, contact Eddie Varela at 559-360-9797.