On August 7, community organizers with the Chicano Park Steering Committee and the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center (CPMCC) celebrated the decision to allocate an empty Parks and Recreation building to the community of Barrio Logan. After years of planning, the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center, a 501c(3) designated non-profit, received a unanimous decision in favor of a twenty-year lease for the building adjacent to historic Chicano Park. This victory for the people of Barrio Logan is just the latest in a series of groundbreaking gains made since the park’s inception in 1970.
The Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center will become the latest addition to the 7.6 acre national historic landmark known as Chicano Park. The park itself is the product of the Chicanx power movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s, being seized by the community in 1970 after the city of San Diego failed to honor an earlier promise to build a park in the underserved neighborhood of Barrio Logan. The final straw came when the state of California began construction of a California Highway Patrol substation in the area previously designated for the park. During the occupation, locals planted cacti, desert plants and trees. Others donated seed, fertilizer and tools to help with this process. The city formally ceded the park in 1971 after months of deliberations and pressure from the people of Barrio Logan.
The newly approved Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center will house art and historical exhibits geared towards highlighting the contributions of Chicanx people to the region. The CPMCC will also house offices, organizing space for educational forums, and areas designated to create art and science projects. The CPMCC, like Chicano Park itself, will serve as an organizing hub in the community, providing a space for young Chicanx people to learn their history for generations to come.
This victory is a testament to the power of the working class to achieve real material change in their communities through the power of a mass movement. With the seizure of the park in 1970, the people of Barrio Logan have been able to expand their victories into even greater material gains, such as the slow expansion of the park and the addition of restrooms. The CPMCC is the latest victory to be won by the people of Barrio Logan, but it won’t be the last won by this mass movement.