‘The Jewel of Aztlán’ Step Off! Radio: The Chicano Park Museum Episode with Lucas Cruz

Since the rise of the Chicano Movement in the late 60s, Chicano artists have used a variety of mediums to express historical counter-narratives, encourage political activism, and educate communities. Fifty-three years ago on April 22, 1970, in San Diego, California the residents of Logan Heights, alongside a coalition comprised of hundreds of students, community activists, Brown Berets, and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) collectively staged a successful 12-day people’s land takeover to thwart the construction of a California Highway Patrol substation on land where the city of San Diego had promised to build a public park for barrio residents. Thanks in part to the protest, the city of San Diego agreed to acquire the site from the state and develop it into a park for the Chicano community. 

In 2023, Chicano Park is widely regarded as a monument to the self-determination and self-empowerment of Chicano people in the U.S. The concrete pillars that uphold the Coronado Bridge that once sliced and divided the community are now adorned with the iconic murals that have made Chicano Park an anchor for the community’s strong Chicano identity and its revolutionary spirit and history. 

Although while Chicano Park has grown and expanded alongside the neighborhood and received a National Historic Landmark designation from the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2017, the park and its illustrious collection of intricate murals continued to lack an official space dedicated to documentation and preservation of its history until Chicano Park opened the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center (CPMCC) last Fall.

Unsurprisingly, Chicano artists have continued this legacy of Chicanismo into today’s contemporary artistic and political movements—taking the moment to express political autonomy, cultural solidarity, and pride in being of Indigenous descent. Lucas Cruz, Chairman of the Chicano Park Steering Committee joins Step Off! Radio to discuss the Chicano Park Museum & Cultural Center, the struggle to make the museum a reality, and what the museum means to the residents of Barrio Logan and Logan Heights.

Featured below is our full interview with Lucas available through our official SoundCloud page. You can listen and subscribe to Step Off! Radio on your preferred podcast streaming service by visiting our Podcast page and watch the full video version. Make sure to follow the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center (CPMCC) social media accounts on Twitter, InstagramFacebook. Please be sure to rate and review the show!


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