Let the people speak. Let the people be heard.

Aztec Earth Goddess

Let us walk quietly through Chicano Park in San Diego even though you are everywhere in the Cyberworld and I am sitting in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

We returned home late, late Sunday evening.  So late the owls didn’t even blink as we drove through a couple new inches of snow in our driveway.  So cold in the house that we quickly started a fire in the woodstove in an attempt to warm our tired travel-weary bones. 

The Virgin in shadow and light

Like the trooper he is, Barry trekked off to work Monday morning.  Since I have such flexible hours at the school, I decided to take advantage of them and stay home until Tuesday.  Which was today.  Which I did.  All because–of course–a blog begged to be written yesterday morning. 


So here we are back at Chicano Park in San Diego.  What, you ask, is Chicano Park and why should I care? 

You should care, dear reader, because this park depicts a human struggle.  It depicts a struggle of people who stood up against the government.  It depicts the struggle of a people who felt overwhelmed and violated–and who made an effort to speak, to have a voice, to be heard. 

Many of us face similar struggles daily.  We choose to speak–or to remain silent.  We choose to express our wishes and desires and thoughts clearly and lovingly–or to let negative emotions and negativity take center stage.  Every day some human rights are being acknowledged and others pushed underground.  Some rights are being trampled; others highlighted. 

Chicano Park --under the expressway leading to Coronado Island

For some of us the rights are health care for the populace.  For others it is equal rights.  For others it is–a hundred thousand different expressions.  No matter what our issue, we decide whether to speak it or remain silent.  We decide if we are defeated before beginning to speak, or if we have a chance to be heard.


 In the 1960’s, in Barrio Logan in San Diego, during the construction of the bridge to Coronado Island (see previous post for photos from Coronado Island) the city of San Diego promised the community of Barrio Logan (mostly comprised of Chicanos, who are Americans of Mexican descent) that a section of land beneath the bridge would be set aside for a community park. Instead plans were made to build a California Highway Patrol station on the site. In April of 1970, when workers with tractors and bulldozers arrived to begin excavating the land, members of the community gathered at the site and formed a human chain to impede the construction.

The park, which contains possibly the largest display of Chicano murals anywhere in the world, carries a feeling of people who can claim their voice and overcome their sense of invisibility and dismay.  It heralds the disenfranchised, the ones without power, the people who have been silenced with lack of economic or political backing.

Man trying to hold up his corner of the world with dignity and perseverance

I quivered with possibility beneath the bridge to Coronado, among the Chicano murals.  I longed for justice.  I longed for equality.  For all people to feel a sense of possibility, of hope, of fervor, of commitment.  I longed not to go home and forget, to become enmeshed in daily routine, to sigh about the inevitability of never realizing equality for all.

Blessings to you, O Man.

Yet today I am back at home and the pull of daily routine looms large.  What will it take for people to express themselves in a way that will be heard? 

I don’t have the answers.

We can just look at the murals and hope.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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30 Responses to Let the people speak. Let the people be heard.

  1. Susan Derozier says:

    Kathy – These are absolutely stunning. I had never heard of this and thank you for educating us. The art is so beautiful and powerful. Glad you are back safe and sound!

  2. Dawn says:

    Beautiful art! We can encourage people to stand up and speak…and we can stand behind them when they do. And if they can’t speak we can speak for them. That’s how things get done. But it’s not easy.

    • Kathy says:

      It sure isn’t always easy, Dawn. I like what you say about encouraging people to stand up and speak and stand behind them. Our voices can be powerful.

  3. Amazing painting, Kathy. Do you know who painted them? Was it the Chicano people? (I’m assuming they are Indians).
    All Governments are a law unto themselves, I believe, no matter which country you live in. You didn’t say, did the chain of people prevent the petrol station from being built back in 1970? Obviously there is a park there now, but I wondered as I was reading when the park actually came into being. (Oh, perhaps those questions are covered in the links you’ve added. I’ll check those later).
    It’s a wonderful story of achievement, Kathy. Thank you. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Joanne, the Chicano people are Americans of Mexican descent–not Native Americans. (I went back and added that sentence in the blog so people would be clear.) Yes, I believe the chain of people resulted in the city re-thinking their plan…I do believe that is in the link. The link said there were many artists who painted the murals. Glad you liked this.

  4. Sybil says:

    There is lovely symbolism there Kathy of the downtrodden standing up for themselves. The glass-is-half-empty part of me says “I wonder what the air is like in that park under the freeway”

    Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia

    • Kathy says:

      Sybil, I never once thought of the air quality beneath the expressway! It probably isn’t great… I’m not sure the air quality in southern CA is very stellar. It’s a little better in San Diego than in LA.

  5. holessence says:

    Kathy – I have stood in this very spot on numerous occasions to drink in the artwork. The energy in this area is exquisite with possibility!

    In a few weeks we’ll be attending a wedding on Coronado Island–you’ve made it seem closer on the calendar.

    • Kathy says:

      You stood in this very spot, Laurie? That is amazing! And you’re attending a wedding on Coronado Island? Wondering if it will be in the Hotel del Coronado?

  6. Dad says:

    Amazing pic’s Luv Dad

  7. john says:

    One of my great frustrations in life is the thousands of underutilized acres that lie beneath or within highway exchanges in this country. Someone once told me that the average unused space in a clover-leaf interchange in Illinois is 16 acres. This seems like such a glorious way to utilize space that otherwise could have become nothing, but garbage dump grasslands. In Chicago it is not this quite concentrated, but we have a Mexican neighborhood called Pilzen where murals depicting dreams, struggles and urban life are encouraged.

    Most important coming up we want to hear about the night you met Seunghye’s parents! Where will the wedding be? Will kimchi be served? Please smother us with details.

    • Kathy says:

      I never once thought about the underutilized acres beneath or around highway exchanges. Never once! As for the details re Seunghye’s parents…I will try to write something soon. Don’t hold your breath for wedding details, though!

  8. kiwidutch says:

    You know from my blog that I LOVE this kind of post: one that shows us the kind of life in a place that *isn’t* just the same-old, same-old tourist spot taken from a different angle.(beautiful as they often are)

    This is LOCAL SOUL, and well represented it is too! Fabulous murals! and what an excellent use of what would normally be ugly grey space.

    Fabulous!!! Thank you so much for taking us off the “beaten track”, I love finding these places, either personally or virtually though people like yourself.

    • Kathy says:

      I am glad you are another lover of off-the-beaten-track, kiwidutch! Glad you loved this little bit of “local soul”…it was fun and inspiring to see it.

  9. P.j. grath says:

    Remembering the struggle for justice and working on the side of justice does not mean giving up one’s own concerns of family and daily life. It cannot mean that, or only one in a million would work for justice. This post is your contribution for the day, Kathy, and it’s a lovely and moving one.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh I definitely agree with you, Pamela. Many of us work for justice in our homes every day. I was referring to a fog of complacency which can settle in us when we’re caught in our daily routines. Then, sometimes, it’s easier to forget that we can work for justice.

  10. Elle says:

    Really nice murals. I had not heard of this park. I’m glad they managed to get it though.

    • Kathy says:

      Elle, I am wondering why this park isn’t advertised in much of the San Diego tourist information? Maybe it is, but I didn’t notice it, as Christopher was our official tourist guide. I am glad they managed to get it through, too.

  11. Lissa says:

    Thank you for sharing these photos and this story. I’ve never heard about this but am so moved by the artwork and cultural story. Keep on sharing this with us!

  12. Colleen says:

    That’s the thing about awareness. On any level. Once we know….once it’s realized, there’s no turning back. We can choose what to do with it, or not do with it. But it’s always there….in our heart. Part of our inner landscape, from that moment on.

    There is such a big story here, along these southern borders. Stunning photos and commentary.

  13. Barbara Rodgers says:

    How beautiful, a park and meaningful artwork, with a story to tell, under an expressway! A powerful message in a place that would otherwise have become an ugly eyesore. The voice of the people…

  14. Robin says:

    I have been wanting to visit Chicano Park. Thank you for taking me there through your photos and words. I don’t know if or when I’ll get to San Diego again, but will make sure I get to Chicano Park if we do.

    I was reminded of this song:

  15. Marianne says:

    Very nice post, Kathy. Beautiful artwork! Thanks for sharing.

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