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Honoring Stories of Migration

On March 31, we will celebrate the birth and legacy of renowned labor organizer, César Chávez. Chávez was one of many pivotal leaders who took a stand for largely migrant agricultural workers, facing inadequate wages and rising rent costs. Most notably, in 1965, Chávez and Delores Huerta, the founders of the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which primarily represented Mexican migrant workers, joined forces with the the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) Filipino migrant workers, led by Larry Itliong, to stage a historic strike against table grape growers in Delano, California. This was an unprecedented event, which serves as a model for community organizing, consumer boycotts, and intercommunity coalition building to this day. Both former and current labor organizers remind us of the often unseen, unacknowledged contributions that help our communities thrive. Migrants not only help us put food on our tables but also bring their energy, creativity, and knowledge into our neighborhoods.

One of the most evident examples of a thriving immigrant-dominated ecosystem within Los Angeles is MacArthur Park, a central location that touches many different populations. Once known as the Champs-Elysées of Los Angeles, MacArthur Park has a storied history. Transformed from swampland in the 19th century, wealthy vacationers flocked to luxury hotels surrounding what was known as Westlake Park. Now named after Gen. MacArthur, the park has become identified with Central American, Korean, Filipino, and Mexican immigrants and second-generation families who call the neighborhood home.

As one of our legacy programming sites, MacArthur Park has been a pivotal gathering place for conversation, coalition building, and connection. We have a long history of engaging local immigrant communities in this area and uplifting the stories of individuals finding their places within our shared city. Most recently, we unveiled a mural, which involved 17 youth artists and over 70 community members in the design process.

“It was really nice to interview people and actually learn about cultures and what they admire about their community. I learned that even though we have problems and struggles in our community we are still together and that doing small things like picking up trash and giving out food brings our community together. The designs we did reflect Latin American and immigrants who struggle through their journey but never forgets their roots and where they come from. I’m really thankful for the opportunity that CARECEN [and LA Commons] provided for me.”

- Brenda Vincente, Youth Artist

This year, we’ve taken our programming to the next level. In collaboration with the California Department of Social Services’ Stop the Hate program, we’re supporting initiatives that promote preventative measures for populations who have experienced or are at greatest risk of experiencing incidents of bias and hate crimes.

Through our tried and true story gathering model, we’re recruiting youth from the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), who will interview their neighbors about their experiences with hate. In this effort, we’re collaborating with Council District 1, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, Mujeres La Tierra, Korean Youth & Community Center (KYCC), LA vs. Hate, and Levitt Pavilion to spread awareness about LA County’s 2-11 hotline and create artworks that reflect the beauty of everyday life in MacArthur Park.

We’re so excited to reach out to street vendors who brighten up Alvarado Street, as well as local park-goers who utilize the space for a sense of reprieve from the bustling streets of Los Angeles. In this effort, we’ll never forget the social and political contributions of leaders like Chávez, Huerta, and Itliong, who inspire us to keep advocating and uplifting the contributions of migrant communities.


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