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Report: CA Latino Heritage Sites Need Greater Protection, Recognition

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Monday, July 12, 2021   

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Sites tied to Latino history and culture are underrepresented on the list of historic places, according to a new report from the Hispanic Access Foundation.

The study, called "Place, Story and Culture," identifies seven sites it said deserve more recognition and protection, including three in California.

Norma Chairez Hartell, a cultural anthropologist and the report's co-author, said although the Antiquities Act has been in place for more than 100 years, only a handful of federally recognized sites celebrate women or non-white communities.

"We have less than 8% of sites on the National Register that are associated with minoritized populations," Chairez Hartell noted. "There's obviously something there that needs to be reframed."

The sites chosen in California include Friendship Park, a spot at the U.S./Mexico border near San Diego where families can see relatives on the other side of the fence; and Chepa's Park in the Logan Barrio area of Santa Ana, which was originally created to stop a proposed freeway offramp from bulldozing the neighborhood.

The report also recommends greater recognition for Hazard Park in Boyle Heights.

Dr. Manuel Galaviz, assistant professor of anthropology at Cal State Fullerton and the report's co-author, said the park played an important part in the fight for better schools and social justice in the predominantly Latino community.

"Hazard Park was central to the 1968 student walkouts in East Los Angeles," Galaviz recounted. "And those student walkouts were instrumental in creating a more equitable learning environment for Mexican American students."

Shanna Edberg, director of conservation programs for the Hispanic Access Foundation, said historic places shouldn't just be tied to government leaders or celebrities, but should celebrate the struggles and victories of everyday people.

"We want to increase the range of stories that are told," Edberg explained. "And these are places that are treasured by communities that should be protected for generations to come."

Disclosure: Hispanic Access Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Education, Environment, Health Issues, Human Rights/Racial Justice, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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