L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective

Link: A Legendarily Censored Chicana Mural Finds Itself Shielded From View Once Again

I don’t understand how this mural is “controversial” or “negative”. There’s nothing on there that hasn’t been seen in some TV public affairs programming from the 1970s or 1980s. It’s just what people call LA history.  (I don’t even understand how it’s  particularly a “Mexican perspective,” because the entire state used to be part of Mexico, but that’s a whole other issue.)

This thing was sponsored by McDonald’s and a Security Pacific Bank foundation charity. How crazy is it going to be?  It’s not indicting of anything like America Tropical.

Far worse things happened in LA, and it’s not on there. There’s no riots, or lynch mobs, or police corruption. There’s no sneaky theft of land from Californios. There’s no murder-for-money of indigenous people.



More Little Tokyo Redevelopment, 1969

I went to visit my mother, and she had this old copy of the Nisei Week 1969 program. She was in it!  She, my grandma, and I were in a photo. You couldn’t see me, because I was swaddled in a blanket.  They weren’t even captioned, because it was a photo of someone else.


Anyway, I’m reading about redevelopment, because it sometimes feels like the current gentrification push, and found  yet another article pushing Little Tokyo redevelopment.  In the previous article, I posted a couple links and photos promoting redevelopment, and linked to the KCET article that mentions the Little Tokyo People’s Rights Organization.  If it’s not already obvious, I know nothing about what happened there. I only experienced it as a child, and a patron of businesses. We weren’t living there or even there on a regular basis.

Here is the article in the Nisei Week program:

It’s interesting. The construction of Parker Center was a big deal – it destroyed 1/4 of LT.  The rest of the article is promoting LT redevelopment, and it really did “sell” it. Fifty years later, I wonder if the redevelopment and urban renewal really worked out. I have my doubts.  The fact is, a lot of low income people were displaced.

I have to also wonder if people were thinking that going along with urban renewal was a way to hold off the encroachment of City Hall.  They would try to take over old buildings, but a new building would be harder to label as “blighted” and targeted for takeover. It sounds like “destroying it to save it.”

One thing to notice is that the second photo has the leader of the Lil Tokyo Redevelopment Community, Kango Kunitsugu. He was the husband of Kats Kunitsugo, who edited the Kashu Mainichi, paper which I photographed in the old article.  So, there was an alignment there; that’s not unusual in the least, but is a link to know.





Little Tokyo Urban Renewal 1972, Urban Renewal Researcher from Japan 1968, Gentrification Notes

I’ve been going through the hoard and stumbled on a couple unrelated things that, today, seem related. Gentrification has swept across downtown LA, and it recalls, for some people older than I, Urban Renewal.  Urban Renewal was criticized and mocked as really “Negro Removal”.  These photos show a couple articles and a letter that all indicate that Urban Renewal was controversial while it was happening, because they didn’t listen to the community. The Little Tokyo articles indicate that community input had helped create the LT urban renewal project, but the project was stalled or going to be stopped.

To add some context, read this overview of development in Little Tokyo, from KCET Departures. It covers the history, different agencies, the LTRA, LTPRO, and how the area developed.

Wow! Right? International capital ready to evict the community, the City pushing into the area to expand, local residents displaced, activists fighting redevelopment, and centrists trying to negotiate the situation to get something for the community.  There’s even ARTWASHING. It’s a lot like today, but this happened over 40  years ago!

It sounds a lot like what’s happening in Koreatown, Chinatown, and Boyle Heights. What about Inglewood?

Here are the articles I found:


A couple more relevant articles found in a web search:


Kats Kunitsugu in the Kashu Mainichi

I came across this column, and read it, and was moved. I searched for a clipping (shown above) that I was selling, of Kats Kunitsugu giving something to Ed Roybal to support his run for Lt. Governor in 1954. It was gone. I couldn’t find it. It was some East LA history there, and I thought this would flesh out the story a bit more. People don’t know that there were JA eastside progressive groups supporting Roybal. (I also didn’t know this, though I did grow up benefiting from their work.)

Here is the column by the eastside progressive, editor of the Kashu Mainichi, probably from 1972.

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A little side note about the schools listed. These are Asian American community schools. I’m guessing, since it’s the 1970s, they were dealing not so much with JAs not knowing English, but newer immigrants… though, I guess I was speaking Japanese mainly, back then, too. Castelar is in Chinatown. Dayton Heights is in Hollywood.  Solano is in Chinatown. Dolores St. is in Carson, and Denker is down in Gardena.