As Latino Heritage Month begins, historian and author Roberta Martínez takes a fresh look at Latinos in Pasadena – Pasadena Now
In 2009, Pasadena scholar Roberta H. Martínez’s definitive work “Latinos in Pasadena” was published. This week, in the context of a city council led by a Latino mayor and a town hall led by a Latino city manager – both born in Mexico – Pasadena Now asked Martínez to reflect on “the state of the city” for Latinos.
“It requires a broad response because the spectrum of Latino experiences is vast,” Martínez said. “Some living in the city, they face the legacy of redlining and covenants. Yet others may live in places like Dundee Heights or Bungalow Heaven. Others are involved in institutes like Caltech or JPL or work at the town hall or sell fruit or elots as street vendors.
Martínez was born and raised in East Los Angeles and has resided locally her entire life. Much of her research has focused on the history of Latinos, Pasadena, and women. His “Latinos in Pasadena” was published by Arcadia Publishing. She has served on several of their advisory boards at the Pasadena Museum of History and curated the exhibit “The Past Lives Vividly in the Present.”
Martínez said that despite the size of Pasadena’s Hispanic population, it is rarely approached.
“According to data reported by the U.S. Census in 2021, those who responded as Latinos (34.9%) and those who identified as white only, not Hispanics (34.6%) represent two-thirds of the population of our city. Yet most of our experiences and our history remain quite invisible,” she said.
“To this day, when people talk about our city’s challenges and successes, it’s told from a black and white perspective.”
Martínez said the Latino community and other groups are generally not included in the conversation.
“Or we appear somewhere in the story, but not in the title,” she said.
Thinking back to local history, Martínez said most people who live or work here don’t realize that the precursor to this area was Rancho el Rincón de San Pascual, some 14,400 acres set aside for Eulalia Pérez de Guillén Mariné in the early 1800s.
The Mexican-American War ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which was not followed by the United States, Martínez said.
Then came a period of transition — a period that was sort of a nod to what had been and what was to come, she said.
“Our first California state constitution was bilingual. The second was only in English. The families that made up the California Colony of Indiana, the group that preceded the Orange Grove Association, not only knew people living here, but some also married people living here. Parts of our history also include the schools that were established as segregated schools were Mexican students in the early 20th century or the fact that in the spring of 1931 it was reported that over 431 Mexicans had been deported to Mexico from Pasadena. If our government agencies, if our elected officials in the city and our school district don’t share this as part of our city’s history, how will our residents of all ages and walks of life learn about it? »
As Pasadena begins a 30-day celebration of Latino Heritage Month, Martínez looked around town.
“I like that our city’s history is rich and complex. It’s wonderful to see the recognitions that continue to take place in our city. The efforts at 10 West Walnut are a great example of this,” she said, but noted that those who worked on the didactics that accompanied the images apparently had no idea there was a book about Latinos in Pasadena.
“Wonderful to know about the Muir High School mural that recognizes Jackie Robinson. He should be known for his incredible athletic skills and fearless advocacy for civil rights. I’m sure it inspires great pride in so many people. It should. He and his family are part of our history; the mural recalls the experiences of him and his community.
Regarding the local Latino community, Martínez said: “It would be wonderful and appropriate for our stories, the past, the present, as well as our hopes for the future to be visible throughout our city for more than just one month. “