“Tierra de Nadie”: The Claremont Colleges and the Mexican Community, Matthew Garcia

“Tierra de Nadie”: The Claremont Colleges and the Mexican Community, Matthew Garcia

October 14, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Good evening. And welcome to the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum. My name is Wesley Whittaker of your Ath fellows this year. If you asked me how much I knew about the city of Claremont when I first got to campus, my only response would be a phrase that I’m sure we’re all familiar with. It’s the city of trees and Ph.D.s. Almost four years later, I still know very little about Claremont. I know that the best burger and fries in the village is at the Back Abbey. Don’t fight me on this. And I know which toppings to get at 21 Choices. And I know how to get even the cheapest avocados from the farmer’s market every weekend. But these are just tidbits of information that I’ve picked up as a college student, mostly just trying to feed myself. Part of what makes CMC so unique is that it brings students together from across the country and the world. While this helps foster community with many perspectives, it can also create a rift between students who have no knowledge of the city’s history and see it simply as a four-year backdrop to their college experience and the residents and communities who see Claremont as their home. As the colleges have expanded over the years, balancing the interests of these two dramatically different communities in such close proximity to one another, has posed an enduring problem. Our speaker tonight will discuss the history of Arbol Verde, a neighborhood home to the area’s earliest Mexican residents. Many of whom contributed their lives to the development of the Claremont colleges. He will argue that, even though the relationship between this community and the colleges has been fraught with disputes over land and labor, it remains a potential source of pride for both communities. Matthew J. Garcia is a professor of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean studies in history at Dartmouth College. He previously taught at Arizona State University, Brown University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. His book, “A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles 1900 to 1970,” won the award for the best book in oral history by the World History Association in 2003. His most recent book, “From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement,” won the Phillip Taft award for the best book in labor history in 2013. Garcia also served as the outreach director and co-primary investigator for the Brissero Archive Project, which received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2008 and was recipient of the best public history award by the National Counsel for Public History in 2009 and 2010. He was born just down the road in Upland, California, graduated from Damien High School in La Verne and completed his Ph.D. at the Claremont Graduate University in history. Professor Garcia’s athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the history department at CMC. As always, I must remind you that audio and visual recording is strictly prohibited. Please silence and put away your mobile devices at this time. And before we welcome our speaker tonight, Al Villanueva is going to lead us in the Eagle Song to honor our speaker tonight. So please join me in welcoming Al. (applause) So I’d like to ask Devon, come over here. David, Janet, Susan, Denny, please stand over here. This is Henry, he works with the native community in Parisoma. What we’re gonna be doing right now, and we’ve gotta remind everybody, that in 1912 we made a collaborative peace agreement within the colony. So we look forward to continuing to the feat. This song is the Eagle Song. Eagle feathers used to be conferred to a war and now Eagle feathers are conferred to people who are doing great deeds. We’re gonna be honoring Matt and his immediate family with this song. It’s the California Eagle Song. Okay. And I have to mention that Cheva, long-time resident of (Native American name) is an honorary alumni of Claremont McKenna College. (applause) This is an honor song. When Henry raises the eagle feather, right now, everybody has to stand. Go ahead. Everybody stand. (steady Native American drumming) (drum roll, Native American singing) (steady drumming, Native American singing) (drum roll, Native American singing) (steady drumming, Native American singing) (Native American singing) (steady drumming, Native American singing) We honor you, brother. Thank you, thank you. (applause) Wow, I am deeply moved. Al, thank you so much. Boy, it’s kind of sobering if you think about the night, the day. 50 years ago, someone tried to extinguish a dream, Martin Luther King’s life and it seems appropriate for me to try to reignite it tonight a little bit, that dream, in a different context and a different place. So it’s with that spirit that I speak to you tonight. I wanna start by Pria Junnar, the athenaeum director, for this invitation. She has been gracious, supportive throughout. Special thanks to CMC professor, Lilly Gisemer. She is important advocate for my work, has been teaching in manuscript form, and then now has a published piece. As well as Wendy Chang at Scripts College who joined Lilly in teaching that same article that I’ll speak from tonight. Also, there are simply too many community and family members here to thank by name. I’m moved by your sacrifice of an evening to come and hear me speak. I look out and I see so many familiar faces and it’s very heartwarming. But I’d be remiss in not thanking, specifically, Al Villanueva. Thank you Al for the song, but most importantly, also his also his advocacy and support of my work over the years. And that included him creating an additional flier and going door to door in the community to advocate for me and advertise. And then Dave Garcia, my father, who also made considerable efforts to get everybody together, tonight. Finally, I’m grateful to my dear cousin, really almost a sister in many ways. Melissa Martinez, who teaches here and who’s ridden shotgun on my ventures into the past. So, I love you very much, Melissa. It’s humbling to speak before so many people who’ve lived the history I’m about to tell. I wanna begin by offering the disclaimer that I do not pretend to know all of it and I welcome corrections, challenges, and definitely alternative perspectives. My hope is that this opens a debate, rather than closes the book on what the relationship between the Claremont colleges and the Mexican community is. This history comes out of the deep knowledge of our past as someone who grew up here. But I think, more importantly, what I wanna convey to you, that it comes from deep research with students, in particular, from Brown University, that I brought here to study this relationship. They lived in the community. They also lived in Redlands and looked at that community. But they spent a lot of time here and it was a learning process for all of us. And I think that’s probably a model of scholarship that’s not familiar that I want to advocate for today. So, that research was from 2005 to 2008. My grandmother, as you just saw right here, the longest-employed employee of the Claremont Colleges, 63 years. (applause) You can see I have a lot less gray hair than– (laughing) Over across the way is the team of students, minus one of them, and Jennifer Jaffe, who I’ll be talking about tonight and she was gracious to those students. They lived some of the time with her. That was very nice and she donated an archive that now sits in the Claremont Hannold library as part of this history. And finally, Johnnie Domingas, who could not be here. He’s here in spirit, but Johnnie was gracious in taking me around the community and he owns two of the homes that I’m gonna be talking about tonight. These people are incredibly important and they’re not the only that we’ve spoke to. My conversations also involved President Jack Stark and his wife, Jill Stark, who are here today. And I appreciate their candor, their time, but most of all, I think this is complicated, but basically signing off on my use of that oral history. That’s something that not everybody did. And I think that that’s an incredible gift to, not just myself, but to the future. And also, Marciano Martinez, my uncle, also sat with these students and gave us valuable information. And Bob Herman, who is a Pomona sociologist, now retired, who wrote a report that is controversial and I’m gonna share it with you. But he, too, had the courage to impart his knowledge and let me quote from it. So I am grateful to all of them. So this approach, speaking to people who lived the history I write about, is at the core of my practice as a historian. And I think it should be for all scholarship. So why did I come back to Arbol Verde after writing this book that West talked about? Well, I was invited in by a group of scholars that were interested in the trans-national histories of the United States. And I said, “Well, Arbol Verde is a small place in Claremont that’s not quite urban.” And they said, “No, no. It’s really important to us.” And the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that, yes, Arbol Verde and the East Barrio is a trans-national place by the very Mexican people that migrated from Mexico to create it. Before then, it also involved Sikh immigrants as well as Japanese immigrants that proceeded them. And so in fact, in many ways, it is a very trans-national place. And the way in which these scholars were looking at this issue was, well, immigrants have revitalized American cities and I think you can go to Ontario, California and see how immigrant have come into that place, opened these new businesses, brought Spanish language to downtown, where it was foreign at one point, and basically have breathed vitality into those communities. What I also recognize is that that’s not the Arbol Verde story. In many ways, the Arbol Verde and the East Barrio captures a different tangent that we need to recognize. And that is that Mexicans have often also been seen as impediments to redevelopment. And in many ways, this story is a hard story to tell. And it’s gonna precipitate a difficult conversation, I think. So, where is Arbol Verde, w is a controversial title? We could have debates about whether it’s Arbol Verde or it’s East Barrio, but in general, it’s that section just adjacent to CMC that I’m going to be talking about tonight. And it’s a place, let’s start with the first characteristic of researchers that have come in, numerous researchers over a hundred years of its existence, and recognized in the beginning, it shouldn’t be there. Why shouldn’t it be there? Because, environmentally, it’s an unstable place. It was thought to be uninhabitable because of the San Antonio Wash would come down frequently before the San Antonio Damn was built. 1938, a wash came through and nearly wiped out the community. And because of that, only immigrants dared to live there. As I mentioned, Sikh and Japanese, who were actually run out of town by white vigilantes who didn’t want them there. And eventually, Mexicans came and began to buy subdivisions that were created by a man named J. H. Brooks. U of C Burkeley economist Paul Taylor, maybe the first and most famous chronicler of California immigrant history, took note of this place. He said, “The Mexicans will pay 300 to 500 dollars down on a home when you think they haven’t a cent. And I think that’s telling because it shows that Mexican people were intent on owning their homes and having this property. And this is an early sign of the determination of Mexican people to have those homes. But it wasn’t just Paul Taylor. As I’ve said, there’s been professors like Bob Herman, which I’ll talk about, but also students have formed their senior theses as far back as Helen O’Brian in 1932 from Pomona College that wrote, “The Mexican Colony: A Study of Cultural Change.” And that’s part of the hope that I have in terms of donating my archive to the Honnold library, that you will continue this tradition in some ways. But it also does come with some risks and we’ll talk about those today. So, one of the things that Arbol Verde, we have to recognize, is that it’s different from where Mexicans were expected to live and that was West Barrio. It’s around the College Heights packing house that’s been converted to entertainment area. And this was an area where you can just visualize the social divisions that existed. You can see how the Mexican housing was in a straight line so that they wouldn’t face each other and organize. They wouldn’t have private environments to think about overthrowing the Citrus Colonies that gave them a place to work, but also, often times, were a challenging place because of wages and the conditions of life and the conditions of labor. That structure allowed them to be viewed by the managers, but also in that time, we had what Paul Taylor called an in-between element. And that in-between element was college professors and what he also called as do-good-ers that wanted to come and protect the Mexican immigrants from the exploitation of growers and to Americanize them and give them education and give them a grounds for which they would assimilate into America, right. Organizations like Su Casa were created. There was a place where women and children could get free medical services. And then another organization that was supported by the Pomona College called Friends of the Mexicans, which was an organization of teachers and advocates for immigrant assimilation that existed from 1920 to 1934. But this relationship was not always easy and uncomplicated. And in the case of the Friends of the Mexicans, when the depression hit, they, like many others, blamed the Mexicans for the depression and ultimately decided that maybe the best thing for the Mexicans to do is go. And so they were advocates for repatriation and in fact, undermined their existence in the process because no Mexicans, so how are we gonna be friends to them? Right? And it defeated their purpose. So, most of the life for Mexicans is that they wanted to get away from that social control, whether the growers or it was the do-good-ers and they formed their own community in this place that a local editor of the bilingual newspaper, El Spectador, called “Tierra de Nadie,” Land of No One. Mainly because no one wanted it, but it also was a comment Nassia Lopez was making on the civic neglect of the area, right? But local Mexicans didn’t quite see it that way. They made themselves a world in this corner of Claremont. And often times, I think about this in the context of James Wendell Johnson’s poem, “The Creation,” in which he said, “And God stepped out on space and he looked around and said I’m lonely. I’ll make me a world.” And this idea of making one’s world was applied to African Americans in Harlem, but I would also say that the Mexicans made themselves a world. And I think this map that was written for me after an oral history with Al Cevia, a cousin of mine who’s now passed, captures the complexities of this place. Notice that the houses are facing one another. Notice that there’s a chapel in the middle. Notice the carrito electrico, which is the electric car that ran from Claremont all the way to San Pedro. And they were part of this network of Mexican Barrios all throughout Los Angels that was connected. There’s all these institutions. The baseball park, right? Jueve Nilas baseball park. They made themselves a world that was very different than the kind of visualization that I just showed you on West Barrio. And Daniel Martinez, my great grandfather, was instrumental in anchoring this community. What did they do there? Well, they occasionally asked Pomona College, and this starts the complicated relationship, to use their facilities for an honorific day. This is September 16th, 1928. My grandmother, at two years old, is right here in the front. Aw. She looks a little like my daughter, Edith, that’s about the same age today. But they were honoring Miguel Hidalgo, the priest that basically led the Mexican Revolution. Right? And this ran counter to the efforts of the do-good-ers to Americanize these people. They were celebrating their Mexican heritage. They were studying Spanish language. They were learning Spanish and Mexican, excuse me, Mexican dances. And this, after going to– being bused to segregated schools in Ontario because they were not allowed to go the Anglo schools. Right. And so my great grandfather was instrumental in creating this alternative to the kind of segregated education they were getting. Also, they created important beachheads for later developments for the Catholic church. So most people think of our lady of– OLA, Our Lady of Assumption has the place where Catholics are. This was Sacred Heart. This was the first Catholic church in Claremont and it was an important anchor to the community. Next to it was a pool hall. So it was a kind of Heaven and Hell. (laughing) Where there was all kinds of things going on, including drinking and that was incredibly controversial in Claremont because this was a dry town. Right. (laughing) So, there were a lot of practices that were happening that went counter to what Claremonters wanted. And so, this constituted a community by the Mexicans for the Mexicans. This was the view from inside Arbol Verde. But the question is: How did Anglos look at these Mexicans in this community? Well, I’m gonna walk through the various ways that they looked at them. By the way, that’s my grandmother performing a Mexican dance where she had performed the Mexican dance as a Mexican child over there, so. Well, they were often seen as a problem by some of the community. This is the Ku Kux Klan in Pomona. They terrorized Mexican people and immigrants in general through the 1920s in Ontario and Pomona, in the areas around near Upland. But I would say that they were mostly in the minority. And that growers tried to protect their investments in the Mexican workers, right. And defend their presence. But it was Claremont colleges that saw the Mexicans in a more enlightened way. They saw them differently. As I said, they wanted to defend them by assimilating them and making them palatable to the white population. Ultimately, though, as I mentioned, when times of strife happen, these communities often went against the Mexicans. Such as the repatriation period in the 1930s. This contradiction was evident in 2005 when we talked to Bob Herman, who is a sociologist at Pomona. He told my team of scholars or students that, in his experience, college employees often identified as politically liberal. But he majority of his collogues were socially conservative on these issues. Equally important was that Mexicans were seen as an opportunity to experiment in race relations. And one of the best examples is Padua Hills, which went from 1932 to 1974. It was a source of entertainment and curiosity for local Anglos. Bess Gardner owned and operated this outfit. She was incredibly important to this town as a historian. She supported the creation of plays that came from her experiences with traveling to Mexico. They were all Mexican performers in Spanish for all white, English speaking audiences. And this captured an example of inter-cultural understanding that people like Henry Cook, a historian at CGU, it was CGS at that time, advocated. It was an alternative perspective to seeing Mexicans as a detriment or all immigrants as a detriment. They were actually contributing something. It was premised on the idea that familiarity with a non-white, foreign, or immigrant community bred social harmony rather than discord. And this was also best-illustrated in a part of the Arbol Verde which is the Intercultural Council. This was also a social experiment in which low-income Mexican working class families joined together in the creation of a community with a transient, mostly-white graduate students, including a lot of artists. And one very important first black family in Claremont, the Livingstons, who were graduate students in education here at CGU. It was started in 1948 by Henry Cook. It was supported by the Congregational Church and it was probably the best manifestation of this intercultural understanding. I wrote about it in my first book. Architecturally, it’s distinctive. And Claremont Heritage has tried very hard to preserve the memory, or the importance of these, recognize the importance of these houses that were designed by the famous designer, Millard Sheets. But always, always paramount among white views was that Mexicans were a source of labor. They worked in the citrus groves. They also worked in the packing houses that shot from College Heights. And also, they worked at the Claremont Colleges. As I mentioned, my grandmother worked for 63 years here. But it’s also important to recognize, and that’s a wonderful and important story. My great grandfather on the Garcia side worked for President Blaisdell of Pomona. And while he was working on a ladder, keeping, doing grounds-keeping, he was knocked off a ladder and broke his back. And he did not die. He was taken to the hospital. And while he was in the hospital, the college came and said, “If you don’t come back to work, we’re gonna have to replace you.” My grandfather, Cheva’s husband, came back from World War II and he went to take his father’s place because the family was gonna lose the job. That very same day, he lost his arm in a tree-shredding accident. Right. Pomona College did not compensate the family and my grandfather ultimately never really, I mean, he did recover from it in many ways, but it was a kind of, living memory of what Pomona College or the colleges could represent. The other thing is that, I think always, there was work, but there was never an expectation that the family would go to college at the Claremont colleges. So first and foremost, it’s about labor. And probably at the end of the day, it’s always about labor. The pot-war period which I really wanna focus on, and this was the subject of the research that we did is gonna be the focus of the rest of my time. And I wanna make sure that I’m being mindful of the time. So during World War II, World War II changed everything and in this period of time, citrus begins to move to Central Valley and they become less, Mexicans become less important as a source of labor. In this period of time, the colleges become an even more important employer of Mexican labor. And it starts this tension, I think, that is begun in the kind of do-good-er relationship. And manifests itself in two ways. These are transformative moments for the Barrio. 1964 was the creation of Claremont Boulevard that we take for granted. It’s called County Line Road. And a study was done by Pomona College’s Bob Herman, who we talked to, and he took students into the community and did this research, very much like I did with my students, right? But was asked by the city manager of Claremont to render a verdict on whether it was good or bad for the Mexicans and for the city to build this county road. All right, this county road would go through the heart of the Mexican barrio, East Barrio, or Arbol Verde. The second issue that I wanna talk about is CMC’s expansion that I think was precipitated by the creation of Arbol Verde Road. So first, this is a map that we ended up producing. You can see the dark black line is that Claremont Boulevard that we’re all familiar with, I think. And so in 1963, Claremont City Manager, Richard Malcolm asked Bob Herman to do a survey of the effects of construction of the County Line Road on the Mexican community. Herman and his students studied the options and provided a report to the city that formed a recommendation. The report took on an importance that, according to Herman, not even he understood at the time. However, it is clear that the road had more to do with addressing the Mexican problem of assimilation, rather than transportation. The report was framed in the context of Mexican assimilation and residential integration. In other words, was the best approach with regards to Mexicans to continue to allow them to be separate and improve their community or to force them to be integrated into Claremont? And it was the road that was seen as the mechanism by which this would be achieved. Now, Herman was reading a lot of the latest urban theory at the time, including Jane Jacobs’, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which she critiqued, in particular, universities for being closed-off and having rigid borders with their neighbors. But the study of this border was, in particular, a difficult one because it bordered a community that was often seen as a problem and other than the Claremont community. If a problem community lay on the other side of the border, how do you open it without opening yourself to unwanted influences? And this was the way in which Herman approached it. So Herman’s report– I don’t often give you a lot of text, but this– I feel like this is important to share this. So this is what Herman wrote and I think it says more about Herman’s opinions and white opinions about Mexicans than about the truth about the Mexican community. “Mexican-Americans will be unlikely to develop positive self-identities while confined to segregated barrios; the most likely mixtures of elements from two cultures are the most dubious rather than the most affirmative (Mexican emotionalism and hedonism and Yankee materialism and vulnerability to consumer debt); and while Anglos are perhaps wrong in assuming the superiority of their own ways, they still constitute the majority in both numbers and power. This view holds that Mexican-Americans will remain separated, isolated, under-educated, fearful, and unmotivated as long as they are left to their own devices.” So, these biases, I believe, that are manifest here about Mexicans informed his recommendations. And his recommendations were this: The Claremont side of the barrio should be physically improved. We think street improvements will make the Claremont portion seem more an integral part of the rest of the City. However, we believe the Upland and Montclair segment of the Barrio should not be improved beyond a level necessary of safety. We recommend that both Upland and Montclair zone the Barrio for other than residential use and that home improvement and building permits be denied. We understand that Montclair zoned the area for industry.” And the rock-crusher that’s there now, was already in formation at this time. “Anything that would encourage people on the East side of the line to stay put should be discouraged.” I wanna offer a disclaimer. My family is from the East side. (laughing) So is Al’s, right? (laughing) And so, the path of the boulevard directly targeted, not just my family, but the heart of the Barrio. That institution, the Heaven and Hell that I mentioned, the Sacred Heart Church, the pool hall. And it also targeted my family’s home. More reading. “We think that County Line Road should be built.” In the end, this is their recommendation. “It should not curve West in Claremont any sooner (going South) than it must. Any part of `Claremont left East of the road and North of the Santa Fe tracks will always be a problem area.” There you go, the Mexican problem. “Unless zoned for commercial use only. We think the Catholic chapel in the Barrio serves as a symbol of the separateness of the area, and its destruction by the road will require that its parishioners move out to Father Barry’s church (Our Lady of Assumption in West Barrio area).” There’s a lot going on here. First of all, the role of the church. The church was critical in terms of brokering this deal. They created a committee that my uncle Marci sat on. And he was forced with a very difficult decision. His mother’s house was about to be demolished and what would he do in terms of making sure that his mother, who is a single mother, have a place to live. Right? He was also trying to defend the community of Mexican women that were also gonna be affected by this. And so in the end, even though it was a fait accompli, according to Herman and to Father Barry, they did do a vote. And there was a forced vote to basically acquiesce to the destruction of the Barrio. What was the role of the City? The role of the City was that it really wanted further development of the community and this was the best way to have that development, that North-South passageway that would eventually hook up with the I-10 and make Claremont a conduit to international links to Los Angeles, to Phoenix, and this was really important. And finally the colleges, of course, stood to benefit from this because it really opened the possibility of CMC’s expansion to this eastern portion that had been held down by Mexican people. I think it’s really important to recognize at this point, too, in the post-war period the suburbanization was happening and a lot of people were moving in to fill in Claremont and that Our Lady of Assumption was now possible because there was enough white Catholics to constitute a church in the white area of Claremont. And so in many ways, Sacred Heart was the beachhead. But ultimately, Mexicans were forced to go into white Claremont to go to church. And some didn’t follow. They actually resented this movement very mush. Okay, as I mentioned, Al Villanueva is very important in this moment as well as Ben Molina and Albert Gutienes, who tried to make up for the demolition of the church by creating a place where the community could come together alongside the Claremont Boulevard. And that was El Barrio Park. And that was fought for and achieved in the 1960s and 1970s, in particular. And I don’t get too deep into that, but we could talk about it I Q&A. But the damage of the boulevard had been done. It divided the community and made the Barrio susceptible to incursions from the nearby colleges. And in that period of time, it was Claremont McKenna. I’ve mentioned Pomona. To some extent, other colleges were interested. But CMC borders this community. And so this initiated several stages of evictions of people that were living in this area. And President Jack Stark, who I mentioned talked to us and sat down. It’s a very difficult history. It’s difficult for the people who were evicted, such as Jennifer Jaffe, who I mentioned earlier. And it’s also something that was very difficult for Jack Stark, as well, as he told us. Because he appreciates and loves the work of the Mexican community and the relationship with my grandmother and my family has been important. Nevertheless, he had a job to do and to defend the interests of the Claremont colleges. And so that defense involved this issue of how to zone this area. Would it continue to be residential and be a place where intercultural experimentation could happen? Or would it become transitional, as Jack told me? Or once they put it in the (mumbles) so then made semi-public so that you could have institutes, you could have parking lots, you could have other things other than residence there. And this became the crux of the matter. For Jennifer Jaffe, who was a renter and actually, a Pitser College graduate, in 1977 she received that– I’ll go back. She received this eviction notice for the creation of a parking lot. And she objected to this and she went to Jack Stark and he received her. And she said, “Well why don’t we– Why can’t you just move the houses, rather than destroy them?” And Jack actually agreed to it. And she ended up living in a house that CMC owned South of this area. The transitional verses the residential issue was never resolved. And in 1970, excuse me, 1982, another round of evictions went out, this time sparking a protest movement that was, in part, led by Jennifer Jaffe. And this is her, dressed as a tree, representing Arbol Verde. In addition to organizing protests, often using the July 4th celebrations that are historic in Claremont, she also called LA Times urban writer, Sam Kaplan, who said this. He decidedly came down on the side of residents and he wrote: “Stripping away the academic veneer of the colleges, Claremont turns out to be simply and attractive, well landscaped company town. For the residents of Arbol Verde, this realization has come as a bitter lesson not taught in any of the schools.” Now, for their part, this was an organization called Arbol Verde: Neighborhood United. And they very much appreciated Sam Kaplan’s statement. Arbol Verde: Neighborhood United produced a lot of (mumbles), which is interesting. This bulldozer, I don’t know if you can tell, has CMC on it. Right. And they made T-shirts. They used Sam Kaplan’s notion, right? A well-landscaped company town. And often celebrated the community by saying it’s Claremont’s finest neighborhood. This is part of the (mumbles) of protest that I’d like to look at. On the other hand, Jack Stark did not appreciate this. He had a job to do, he needed to see the college grow, and he owned the land. Right. Interesting, in our conversation with Jack, he told us: “You know, in one respect there’s some truth to that.. He didn’t reject the idea of a company town. “We are the biggest taxpayers. We are the biggest employers. The reputation of Claremont is because of the educational institutions. The accusations are not true: We are exploiting the neighborhood, we are tearing down the environment, we are hurting land values. We are a company town, but not in the negative sense of the word.” Right. So I think that’s interesting, that he embraced this idea. He told Kaplan, in the interview that Kaplan did with him, the author of the article, “I intend to fight for the change and win. It’s going to happen because we intend to keep growing.” And what he fought for was the rezoning away from it being residential to back to semi-public because in this period of time Avenue succeeded in convincing the Claremont City Council to make it a residential-zoned area. So Jack fought. He reversed course, bought up 80% of the neighborhood, and by 1990, replaced the residents whose connection to CMC– who didn’t have connections to CMC. Instead, he put CMC employees in those properties. He also revitalized the commitment of CMC to El Barrio Park. El Barrio Park was owned, was land-owned by CMC and he was leasing it for one dollar and now asked for 40 thousand dollars. So, why did he do this? I believe, and this is my interpretation and this is what history is about, he was doing his job. I thought he was an effective President. I think that this is something, that expansion is part of all colleges’ growth patterns and growth projects. And on the other hand, he also did not see the community as authentic or sufficiently Mexican. The community very much resented this. And so they fought in action and in words. In actions, I mentioned the 4th of July parties. I also mentioned the group gatherings and here’s a young Johnny Domingas. And the Mexican community was a part of this. Now yes, a majority of Mexicans live on the East side, but were Mexicans living in this neighborhood. Right? People like Johnny Domingas, Rosa Gutieras, and the Rubio family. So in words, Rosa Gutieras said, “We will never sell to the college. We came here because this was the only place Mexican-Americans could live. It was like a village then. It still is.” Jose Rubio, from the Rubio family said, “To the City and the college, we have always been like garbage.” And finally, Johnny Domingas said, “People who are homeowners generally went along and backed the goals of Avenue because we wanted CMC out of the neighborhood.” Now, as I mentioned, in the end, there were evictions and final evictions for people like Jennifer Jaffe. Avenue prevented CMC from having its way in terms of the zoning completely, but lost the neighborhood battle. CMC’s appeal to rezone the West portion of Arbol Verde back to semi-public required an environmental impact report by California law. The authors of that report confirmed residents’ fears. And I quote, “The stability, viability and integrity of the remainder of the neighborhood will be compromised, since the private land owners in the Southern portion of the neighborhood will be uncertain about the future viability of the neighborhood.” And in spite of this analysis, the City Council recognized, true to form, that it was a company town and supported, in part, the rezoning. A partial rezoning, allowing CMC to develop some of the nonresidential uses and cut Arbol Verde, excuse me, Barrio Park in half. Cut it in half in such a way that now, the soccer fields were no longer possible. Soccer being an instrumental and integral part of the Mexican experience, right. So they could no longer play their sports there. Sam Kaplan came back in 1990 as Jennifer Jaffe and others were being evicted and he said this: “Gone is the neighborly spirit, sense of place, and history that once distinguished the modest six-block enclave as evocative vestige of this college town’s post-graduate bohemian community and barrio.” But his, I argue, is not necessarily the Mexican perspective or the end. So for Johnny Domingas, he accepted the decision, but did not concede the neighborhood. Following a drive-by shooting and drug arrest at one of the Intercultural Council houses in 1991, he purchased the home at CMC’s asking price. For the East side of Claremont Boulevard, Chave Garcia and the original residents remain. To survive, they’ve formed coalitions to support attempts to remove them from their homes. Such coalitions required patience as white friends made recommendations that sometimes ran against the understanding of their problems or the will of the community. So what no? A place once labeled as a land of no one has become a sight of competing interest, has become valuable. Since I finished my research in 2008, a new agreement was struck with CMC in 2012 with the last President, Pamela Gann. Her administration’s consultation with the community about future development was appreciated by many residents and stands as a beacon of hope. How to honor the sacrifices of Mexican employees and residents is much more difficult. Some might say, “What’s done is done.” Other institutions have begun to embrace their debt to minority communities by creating institutes that study the injustices they have been a part of and, in some cases, have created opportunities for descendants of these communities to attend their schools on scholarship. And in some instances, they have replaced hurtful reminders of exploitation and suffering with campus heart that commemorates their contributions of those minority communities. Whatever CMC and the entire Claremont college community decides to do, I recommend that it be done in the spirit of intercultural understanding that shaped Claremont in its best moments over the last 100 years. Thank you. (applause) Thank you so much for your talk, Mr. Garcia. We will now open the room up to questions. If you have a question, please raise your hand and either Wesley or I will come and hand you the mic. Hi, I’m Carl Herbald, I’m a graduate of Dartmouth College, class of ’62, and I am former professor of Latin American History at Pomona College. So we’re colleagues in that way, too. But I’m here principally because I’m President of Claremont Heritage and I want to thank you for your great effort in preserving the history and analysis of Arbol Verde for the benefit of the present residents as well as for all generations to come. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. (applause) I’ll just say that Claremont Heritage, in its various iterations has been really important to research in the community for me. But also students and faculty that are doing that work. David Sheer is here, somewhere. Yes. And he’s been gracious and supportive. Before that, Ginger Elliot was incredibly supportive and helpful for me during my book, my first book. So yeah, Claremont Heritage is, I think, a model of what a historical preservation organization should be. And every city should have one like Claremont Heritage. Thank you for their work. (applause) I told you it would be a difficult conversation. (laughing) Good evening, everyone. As a resident and a descendant from Irwindale, Azusa, my name is Ray. Hi. I am honored to see the works of your community, your leadership in the educational field. I retired as a deputy sheriff, Riverside County, and followed some education, but my main focus was law enforcement at the time. As a family heritage descendant, it is awesome to see this development where you’re recognizing the City, the community, your development in education. My great grandfathers were the beginners of Irwindale, which got the city name Irwindale from Mr. Irwin who brought the flume to develop the irrigation. And as of Tuesday, the US Park Service just honored my great grandfather, Wasuke Hirota, that was interned in Heart Mountain. Their program just released and highlighted my great grandfather’s program and he was a expert with the Citrus Foothill Ranch, up here in Azusa with the citrus industry. So it’s an honor to see this development and one of my great, great grandmothers, the wife of Wasuke Hirota, her lineage goes to the Schumann Shoshone Tongva Tribe in the region. As I’m still doing my research to get that title for them. The native, the DNA has proved that we are, our family is still much alive in the area. A lot of my relatives and family have gone to schools and colleges here. So again, just a quick thank you. It is an honor to see the development where you’re including the community. Thank you.
Thank you. (applause) Hi, thank you so much for your talk. We were talking about this a little bit at head table, but as a second generation immigrant from the local area and Redlands, as well, what do you think are some recommendations that you have for the Claremont colleges on how to better serve the descendants of these communities, especially of my age? Right. Well, I mean, we have models in higher education. I taught at Brown University, which under Ruth Simmons, the first black woman President of an IV League school, she took the courageous step of acknowledging that that institution was build by slave labor. And in doing that, she also recognized that she had an obligation to that community, even though it’s hard to identify which slaves and which families. That actually has been done at Georgetown and the descendants have been given scholarships. So there’s various ways, but one of the things that Ruth did is start an institute for slavery and race studies that I think does really important work. The other issue is that, I mean, I would be remiss in not acknowledging, besides my uncle Marci being on that fateful committee. He’s also a great artist and there were many great artists that were trained by Millard Sheets, Milford Zorns, and various artists at the Claremont colleges, including my uncle Richard, who’s sitting next to Marci. And I think that art is an integral part of the Mexican community and art is one of the best ways to commemorate and celebrate the history that I just told. There’s one way to having me come here and it’s somewhat (mumbles) and it goes away. But the art is permanent and I think that art installations are a good way to honor this history. And I would suggest that that be another one. And then finally, how about scholarships that are very much in the names of some of the folks that have been a part of basically building this institution. Those are a few recommendations that I’ve witnessed over my time and in the institutions, some of which I’ve worked for. (mumbling) Hi, thanks for being here. My question is about some of your sources and doing oral history. In the name of difficult conversation, which were particularly difficult conversations for you to do as a historian, do you have any moments that really stick out that you can tell us a little bit about? Thank you. You would think that my conversation with Jack Stark, who’s sitting here today would’ve been a difficult one, but it was not. It was actually very enjoyable and I appreciate his courage in talking about these difficult things. Probably the most difficult conversation, honestly, was with Jennifer Jaffe. Because Jennifer Jaffe, who I think in many ways comes across as a hero of some sorts, in some ways, at least a champion for a certain version of this history, ultimately, did not agree to get quoted in an article that I wrote and has kind of restricted my access to all that work. I regret that and I don’t understand it and she wanted final say on the final version of the article. Which I did not grant her, nor do I think historians should do that. Because history is an interpretation and it’s an assemblage of data and evidence that then gets interpreted by that individual. And in some cases, if it’s done collectively, by a collective. But it is an interpretation based on evidence. People are entitled to make what they want of that evidence and come up with a different conclusion. But no one should try to silence the historian or speak for the historian. And that was the most difficulty conversation, yeah. (mumbling) I appreciate it a lot and I guess I was mindful, especially when you were talking about building the road. You know, obviously you’d think about Boyle Heights and you think about the freeways. It’s a familiar story, read a little smaller than Chavez Ravine, or Boyle Heights, or what have you. And I guess what I’m interested in is sort of a bit of a broader context during the post-war period. And so to what extent is these sort of overall decline of the Barrios, just more generally because Mexican-Americans who are moving into certain suburbs, as Wendy Cheng writes about. So how does that factor into the particular story of Arbol Verde? Yeah, to some extent. And it’s an important issue. The proximity to the Claremont colleges did afford some Mexicans upward mobility and migration into the middle class. I’m a living example of that. I didn’t grow up in the Barrio, my father did. It was a notable thing for us to live first near Upland High School and then eventually get up into 15th Street where we stopped ascending. But it’s very comfortable and integrated neighborhood. In fact, we’re unusually Mexican for that neighborhood in the late 70s or early 80s. But what I wanna say about that it was– Let me just say, including my uncle Marci, but also very importantly, his brother Daniel Martinez, Jr. Who got an MA at CGS, wrote one of the first important studies of the Brissario program that formed my research. But all of this was sort of accidental and not systematic. And so what I would say is that yes, there is this sort of pathways to success by its proximity to the Claremont colleges. But that what I’m asking for is a kind of systemic program or thoughtfulness about what colleges mean to these communities and how they facilitate the kind of integration that people like Henry Cook were talking about. Especially in the post-war period when new opportunities are opening up. No longer are they assigned to agricultural work and, more or less, dead end jobs in packing houses, but rather, my father started working at the new General Dynamics in Pomona and that afforded him the mobility that we all celebrated. But I do think the colleges have the responsibility of facilitating that social mobility for communities that they have depended on, and have suffered the kinds of indignities that I have revealed tonight. Yeah. Yes, my name is James Sombrano and I’m an attorney here in Claremont for the last 10 years. I used to live adjacent to the Barrio, right there on Arrow Highway and Claremont Boulevard. So I got to know Al and work with people from the Barrio. And so recently, I’ve done some research on this and I’ve gone through the minutes of the City Council Meetings in 1967 when this project was– the Claremont Boulevard project was being handled by the City and I noticed that there was no public hearings and that the notice that was put on the agenda was very deceptive. It didn’t say that we’re gonna build, we’re gonna take out houses, condemn houses for imminent domain and put it a boulevard. It was done under the guise of a village group called “The Core Area Task Force.” So nobody would’ve known, actually, what they were doing unless they actually went and looked at the actual specifications of the construction project. So my basic premise is that there was not adequate notice given to the community. But you mentioned that there were several meetings and they acquiesced to the Claremont Boulevard, but then I noticed that after it was passed by the City, then people went to the city council and protested. And they were saying we they didn’t this, this is not clear. So I was wondering how much notice was given and how many houses were taken out? There were meetings. My uncle Marci sat on that committee, appointed by Father Bill Barry. As I mentioned, he was in a particularly difficult position there. There were hearings and the community. I went to my grandmother’s home this morning. We talked about it. My grandfather who was alive at that time went to it. My uncle Henry who is sitting here went with my grandfather and he cursed the whole time. You know, you can imagine if you see Chavez Ravine, or know about Chavez Ravine, being erased from the map for Dodger Stadium, some Mexican people had to be dragged, kicking an screaming from their homes. That was my grandfather. He was upset. But I think you’re right, there wasn’t a real big public hearing and there wasn’t by due process. And that, I think, was by design. I think the colleges wanted it. But more importantly, the City wanted it. And Father Barry wanted it because this was an opportunity to build a church to take advantage of the wealthy or middle class Catholics that have moved to Claremont and to cater to their interests. And that erasion of the Sacred Heart facilitated that. And so, I think there was some subterfuge, if you will. I don’t think you’re wrong about that. But you can never be completely honest and I’m grateful to my uncle Marci for sitting down for that oral history. And he too, granted me the ability to quote him in the article. And Uncle Marci. Marciano Martinez. Born and raised in the City of Claremont at this little house that was demolished by the road. Not that it was not going to be demolished, anyway, but it was. I think that all of us, first of all, we’re all correct. I think you are correct, that we didn’t have as many meetings as we should have had. There was not enough time because the road was going through. We were guided by Father Barry. So we all have a specific answer, but I would like to resurrect one wonderful soul and going back to Mr. Stark and his family. Not your soul, Mr. Stark, ’cause you’re right here. (laughing) And that would was Mrs. Allamshall. I told the story earlier, which I wasn’t going to say it, but I’m so glad to have this opportunity to say this story. Here I am, 15 years old, thereabouts, mowing her lawn. Who is Mrs. Allamshall? There was a man who was the Dean of Men at Claremont Men’s College, Mr. Allamshall. And Mrs. Allamshall had no children. And I mowing her lawn and she turns around. She stops me from mowing the lawn, and she said, “Marciano, I want you to know that I’ve spoken to my husband and your education is all taken care of.” And this is the connection that I want you to really think about because each one of us has had a personal connection when we were kids and when we grew up and when we got old. But listen to this one. So your education is taken care of. I had already worked as a dishwasher at CMC with my sister and I turned around and said, “Oh, thank you very much Mrs. Allamshall, but I don’t wanna be a business man.” (laughing) I had already made up my mind in 7th grade that I was not gonna go to seminary, that I was not gonna become a priest, as my dad, this guy to the right did the same thing. He changed his mind and he came from Mexico to over this country because he was in seminary. He didn’t wanna become a priest, so he came over here. And I am living the same story. So I said to Mrs. Allamshall, “Thank you so much, but I don’t wanna be a business man.” And that was my thought as to what she was really talkin’ about. Imagine somebody 15 years old saying to a lady that had no children, “I wanna adopt you, you little stinker.” And I didn’t understand that. I really didn’t. I did graduate eventually from the Claremont Graduate School, not on her dime, but on my dime. And I had such luck to find her phone number when I first came to teach at Fullerton Community College. And I called her and I said to her, “Mrs. Allamshall, I wanna thank you profusely for having offered me the offer that you made me. I will never forget and I will always mention your story.” And here I am, mentioning her story. I said to her, “I would like to see you.” She must not have been well. She says, “Marciano, I really can’t see you at this time.” And I never saw her again, but I never, ever, ever forgot the connection that Claremont Men’s College, at that time it was Claremont Men’s College, had with the rest of the community and I am telling you this from the bottom of my heart. This is the truth. Each one of us have had a personal connection. And that is my personal connection. Going back to the road, and I did say to my mother, “Mom, the road is coming through. We have a chance to, Father Barry is saying there’s a house available for you. It will cost you the same amount of money. You’re gonna get four thousand dollars for that house that they’re gonna demolish, but it will cost you four thousand dollars to move that house that Father Barry was giving us.” My mother and the rest of the people that there were houses for said, “What do you want to do?” She says, “Let’s take the house.” So there weren’t all of the meetings that should’ve been. There should’ve been more meetings, but we didn’t think we had any more time. And we had to make these decisions very, very quickly. So Mrs. Allamshall, I’m here on your behalf. Thank you so much. (applause) I want, I just wanna note, in that move, right? The house came from LA. The property, it’s ownership, was maintained by CMC. So we owned the house, but didn’t own the property. And that is symbolic of the relationship, right? It permitted, and that’s why I say, the destruction of the road opened up the opportunity for expansion and the battle over expansion. Yeah. Yeah. Well after that heartwarming and at times heartbreaking story, I hesitate to add one more word. But my family has had a relationship with the Barrio community and CMC since the dual relationship, since the late 60s. My husband, dear Gramble, is sitting here. Didn’t know I was gonna speak. But he was teaching at CMC and we were living in a home we owned South of Blaisdell Park. We had four children and on an assistant professor’s salary at that time, it was tight. It was all the house we could afford, four bedrooms, four children, but it was tight. And we had friends, Bill and Juanita Rude, who lived in a wonderful CMC faculty house on Colorado. And they had been over at our house. We had them for dinner or something, but anyway, Bill one day contacted Gramble and he said, “We’re going to go on sabbatical for a year. And we wonder if you would like to sub-let our house?” And he said it might be partially furnished or it might be empty. Well, it ended up that we didn’t get to enjoy the Sam Maloof dining room suit which they had, but we did thoroughly enjoy the house and they took off for the year. The way things worked out, Juanita then stayed in the Bay area, Bill came back and we somehow got to stay in the house. I guess Jack felt he could’ve had worse tenants, so. He was kind and we stayed. While we lived there we had, you know, the four younger children and there were really no other children in the neighborhood on Colorado because by then the Boulevard had come through and the houses on the East side of the street were gone. So it just the houses on the West side of the street. And so our children would go down and play in the children’s center in the Barrio. And we thought nothing of it, but apparently, the children in the Barrio and the personnel somehow noticed that we were not from the immediate neighborhood. But they were very kind and the kids enjoyed going down there. And then one day, our son said to me, “Well Mom,” he said, “I think maybe now they like me a little bit.” So that was kind of an interesting slant on things. Anyway, to make a long story short, we eventually, because the college rents were going up, my goodness, there were going from 100 dollars a month up to 130, and we saw the handwriting on the wall, so we bought a house elsewhere in Claremont, where we still live. But our interest in the neighborhood never really waived. Our second daughter bought a home in the neighborhood on Brooks. And then when she moved away she sold it to our eldest daughter who raised her son there with her husband. She’s now divorced, but they moved another house to the front of this little house, so she has a lovely home there. And so she is part of the neighborhood and actually a very close friend of Johnny Domingas, who we think of now as part of our family. Johnny and she would both be here tonight, except that they are in New York and they were very sorry when they heard about this that they were going to miss it. But I brought his out because I think it’s a little– it’s almost a counter-story to everybody moving away. Here is a family that was away and came back and bought here and has continued to sink roots here. Johnny tried to talk some other people in the neighborhood into buying the little house that Mary bought, including Jennifer Jaffe, but she wouldn’t. She moved away. Whereas, the Henrys moved back. So we loved having that association with the neighborhood and we’re very grateful to CMC for the years in that faculty house and to the association with the neighborhood. Thank you. (applause) We’d love to have more discussion here, but unfortunately, we are out of time this evening for our, kind of, evening program. Our folks, our student workers here do have to come start cleaning up the tables because they have schedules, too. But if you would like to stay, please fell free to continue these conversations and please, join me in one more time thanking Professor Garcia. (applause) Thank you.