Coalition to Preserve LA Boyle Heights Museum

A Must-See Museum in Boyle Heights Tackles Gentrification

In Eastside, Gentrification, News by Patrick Range McDonald

In response to “historical amnesia” and gentrification in Boyle Heights, award-winning playwright and screenwriter Josefina Lopez is opening the Boyle Heights Museum to do some educating. She’s teaming up with another award-winner: USC professor Dr. George Sanchez.

“We want young people in our community to have pride in their community,” Lopez says in a press statement, “and we want new residents of Boyle Heights to have a powerful context so they appreciate the culture and history of this community.”

Sanchez notes that the museum “will also show that groups and individuals from Boyle Heights have learned to fight for their rights amidst often hostile surroundings and forces wanting to tear the community apart.”

Lopez, the founding artistic director of CASA 0101 Theater, was born in Mexico and grew up in Boyle Heights. She wrote the highly regarded play and movie Real Women Have Curves. Sanchez is a noted professor of American Studies & Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California. He currently serves as the director of the Center for Diversity and Democracy at USC.

Together, they’re presenting the first exhibit at the Boyle Heights Museum, which will be housed at the CASA 0101 Theater in the Jean Deleage Gallery. Titled “Aqui Estamos Y No Nos Vamos (We Are Here and We Won’t Leave): Fighting Mexican Removal of the 1930s,” it examines a period of time when Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans in Boyle Heights fought against forces that wanted them out in the name of “progress.”

Sounds eerily similar to the gentrification that’s happening today in Boyle Heights and other parts of L.A.

The opening reception takes place on Sunday, October 1, at 1 p.m., and Sanchez will host a discussion. The Boyle Heights Online Museum — www.boyleheightsmuseum.org — will also be unveiled on September 21.

“Boyle Heights has long been recognized as one of the most important in defining a new American reality of life in a diverse, working-class community in the United States,” Sanchez says. “The Boyle Heights Museum will bring this rich history to life for people living in the community, as well as a broader audience of Angelenos interested in how people fought to have immigrants and people of all backgrounds living together.”

Boyle Heights has made national headlines for ongoing gentrification battles there. Now Lopez and Sanchez are bringing some much-needed context to what’s been unfolding. It’s something the media could use in its coverage of gentrification in Boyle Heights. In other words, it’s a must-see for everyone.

Go to the Boyle Heights Museum at CASA 0101 Theater in the Jean Deleage Gallery at 2102 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights, 90033, on Sunday, October 1, at 1 p.m. For more information, go to www.casa0101.org.

Photo by Paul Narvaez/Creative Commons

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