By Rosa Conrad
Chicano Park is located in Barrio Logan underneath the Coronado Bridge where you can find yourself immersed in art depicting Mexican and Chicano history and culture. Each mural is unique and tells its own story. But the park has its own story as well, as the Chicano Steering Committee’s website explains the history behind it. It is a history reflecting the struggle of creating a space for a large Mexican community who had been pushed out of their neighborhoods. The website shares the following:
Women, men, children, activists, students, residents the youth, the elderly and entire families gather at the construction site. At day’s end, two to three hundred people had congregated. They evicted the constructions crew and seized the land…Chicano Park has provided us with the freedom to practice and express our ideas, our culture and our traditions. In short, the struggle for Chicano Park has become symbolic of our Raza’s struggle for self-determination, our right to Aztlán and who we are as indigenous people.
Walking around the park, you may not be familiar with the challenges it has faced and the hard work it took to create this unique and beautiful park. The history of the park speaks of unity, faith, work, and pride. This is evident in the murals, playgrounds, and the park itself. All of it is kept clean and maintained. Bold Mexican flag colors paint the picnic tables, benches, behind the basketball backboards, Kiosko, and the various play structures. You see the details in creating a space representing the people of this community.
Each mural depicts different pieces of their history with selected quotes from historical Chicano figures and from the social movement:
“La tierra es de quien la trabaja con sus propias manos” – E. Zapata, 1879-1919
“Strength through Unity”
“La Union hace nuestra Fuerza”
“Si se puede”
They are reminders of what it took to create this space for the Logan Heights area. Along one side of the park, there is a mural titled, “Historical Mural.” On the mural it states: “Originally painted by Toltecas en Aztlan and funded by el Centro Cultural de la Raza in April 1973. Restored in May 2012 by Guillermo Aranda, Armando Nuñez, Victor Ochoa, Guillermo Rosette, and Salavador Barajas.” This mural has portraits of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and many iconic people of Mexican and Chicano history. The mural is filled with various images and scenes telling of struggles and victories for social justice.
Chicano Park exemplifies how people came together to build a space for their families and their community. They found a voice uniting them as one. As many Mexican and Chicano leaders depicted on the Historical Mural have demonstrated, power is built on the strength of Unity.
Organizing for any cause takes commitment and collaboration among everyone involved. It can be challenging and exhausting, but rewarding. Chicano Park represents community organizing through leadership from within a neighborhood. It demonstrates the abilities of how grassroots efforts make a meaningful difference.
For more information about Chicano Park in Logan Heights and events, you can visit their website here.
The park has also been recently featured in USA Today among 10 Hidden Hotspots in San Diego. Read all about it here.