(Trends Wide) — A historic neighborhood threatened by plans for a sports stadium, a winery that became a hub for Dominicans in Rhode Island, and a park where students of Mexican origin gathered to call for equitable access to education.
These places are among the seven Latino heritage sites that conservation experts say need to be protected because of their deep cultural and historical ties to the Latino community in the United States.
In a report released earlier this week, Latino Heritage Scholars, an initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation, states that the Arizona, California, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Texas sites are currently threatened by multiple factors, including deteriorating structures, development plans and gentrification.
Places that embody the contributions of Latinos and their history are often not protected by federal laws and entities, said Manuel Galaviz, a co-author of the report and an anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin. He previously authored the Chicano Park in San Diego nomination as a National Historic Landmark, which was approved by the Department of the Interior in 2017.
“Although Latinos have continued to demonstrate for generations that they are essential to America, sites that commemorate Latino heritage are disproportionately excluded when it comes to officially designated heritage and conservation sites,” Galaviz said in a statement.
Although the list does not include every site that can tell the full story and contributions of Latinos in the U.S., according to the report, the authors hope it will highlight the importance of Latino culture and motivate people to visit other sites. .
These are the spaces listed in the report:
The ancestral home of the Comanches and Apaches
Castner Range is a 2,865 hectare area in El Paso, Texas, described by many as the “crown jewel” of the Franklin Mountains for its historical and natural significance.
The indigenous peoples of the region consider it sacred land. It is the ancestral home of the Comanches and Apaches and has “important deposits of rock images, ancient cultural deposits,” according to the report and local groups. The site was also used as a testing ground for large caliber artillery and high explosives in the 20th century.
Conservation groups and politicians have been advocating for years for the site to be awarded the status of a national monument.
In April, Representative Veronica Escobar of Texas introduced legislation to designate the Castner Range as a national monument. It has been referred to the National Resources and Armed Services committees. A similar bill was previously introduced in Congress by former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke in 2015.
The Hispanic Access Foundation previously recommended in a similar report published in 2017 that the Castner Range be considered for preservation along with nine other sites in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
A key site for the Chicano movement
Hazard Park was one of the places where thousands of Chicano high school students gathered in 1968, after they left their classrooms to protest the poor conditions of the schools, the lack of college preparatory courses and the poor training of the students. teachers.
It contributed to “one of the most significant youth-led Chicano social movements” – the East Los Angeles Walkouts, also known as Blowouts, and became a place where Mexican-Americans overcame racial profiling in sports.
Before World War II, mainly white baseball teams played in Hazard Park, but afterwards, Mexican-American teams “began to proliferate and claim a space there,” the report explains.
A “truly” binational neighborhood on the US-Mexico border
The historic first neighborhood in El Paso, Texas, called Duranguito, has been the center of a years-long battle for its preservation.
The downtown area, a tight-knit neighborhood of brick and stucco buildings, Victorian houses and abandoned markets, was home to Mexican historical figures such as Pancho Villa and Francisco I. Madero, who were key in the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
“Due to its proximity to the border, Duranguito has always been an appropriate place for people from both sides of the US-Mexico border to travel, work, and live from one side of the country to the other. The neighborhood is truly a binational place. “says the report.
In recent years, residents have protested, filed lawsuits against the city’s intentions to build a sports stadium in the neighborhood and advocated for a landmark designation for the neighborhood, Trends Wide affiliate KVIA reported.
A park that saved a Mexican-American neighborhood
Chepa’s Park is located in the heart of the oldest Mexican-American neighborhood in Santa Ana, California.
The park is named after Josephina “Chepa” Andrade, a community activist who fought alongside other community members when city officials wanted to turn the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood into an industrial neighborhood in the late 1990s. 1960. They founded a park and saved the neighborhood, according to the report.
The park was originally called Logan Park, but was renamed in March 2008 in honor of Andrade’s activism.
A winery that became a symbol for Latinos in Rhode Island
Fefa’s Market was the first Dominican-owned winery to open in Providence, Rhode Island, in the mid-1960s, and its owner was considered the “start of the Latino community” in the state.
Every two weeks, owner Josefina Rosario, also known as Doña Fefa, and her husband traveled to New York to restock the winery and encourage people to relocate to Providence, according to a 2019 municipal resolution recognizing Rosario’s legacy.
The couple “is remembered by many people who say they sponsored their families to come to the United States; they gave them free room and board until they could find work; and they made sure they had everything they needed,” according to Our Roots: The Latino Oral History Project of Rhode Island.
“It was seen as the beginning of the Latino community in Rhode Island, especially as it paved the way for Latino business owners and entrepreneurs in the state,” the resolution says.
A cross-border park that brings families together
Friendship Park has been the site of numerous family gatherings along the US-Mexico border.
Located partly in Southern California and partly in Tijuana, Mexico, thousands of people visit the park to meet friends and family unable to cross the border and connect with them through the steel mesh fences that separate the two. countries.
One of the centerpieces of the park is a mural of an inverted American flag on the border wall, which juts out into the Pacific.
Friendship Park was inaugurated by First Lady Patricia Nixon in 1971, when a thin barbed wire separated the two countries.
When Nixon arrived at the park, he asked his security to cut the wire so he could visit crowds of Mexican citizens. “I hope there won’t be a fence here for a long time,” he said then.
Since 1971, the Friendship Park fence has only grown, having undergone two transformations: one in 1994 and one in 2007. It was recently reinforced with metal mesh in 2012.
A river in the southwest
The Gila River stretches 965.6 kilometers from New Mexico to Arizona and has been considered “the life blood” of numerous indigenous communities and Hispanic settlers for more than 1,000 years.
According to the report, it has been “the sustenance of numerous human civilizations, of a great quantity of threatened, endangered and endemic species, of agricultural and recreational activities, and of a valuable and unique landscape for geological study.”