Client: Pasadena Transit/City of Pasadena
Location: Pasadena, CA, United States
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $4,500
My project for Pasadena (CA) Transit blended drawings with oral history to celebrate 50 years of high school student political engagement in Pasadena and East Los Angeles. Posters at 18 bus stops and on all 29 City transit buses, in English and in Spanish, told the story of the students' grassroots struggle for educational justice from the points of view of the 1968-73 participants. My drawings were based on old photographs I uncovered in archives.
Pasadena Transit is a low cost public resource that is heavily used by young people and disadvantaged residents. Learning from memories of the 1960s and 70s seems urgent as well as timely. I wanted to relate these stories to the continuing struggles against inequality and discrimination today to attract a younger generation to the values of participatory democracy.
I wanted my project to inspire pride in 20th Century student activists’ historical contributions to Pasadena, and to offer support to the new, recently energized generation of student activists. I hope I was able to transmit a strong message of inclusion that reinforces Pasadena’s progressive values, and to bring the passion of 1960s social justice movements back to life, reconnecting Pasadena residents, visitors and a younger generation with this still-relevant history.
I interviewed 30 participants in the 1968 East Los Angeles High School Walkouts and participants in the much less well known 1969-73 Pasadena school walkouts about their lives as defined by their activism. I reached out to photographers from "La Raza," an influential, bilingual community journal of Chicano Civil Rights movement, for permission to draw from their photos, and also drew from Pasadena high school yearbooks. I raised the money for printing the posters from a Pasadena Individual Artist Grant, and reached out to Pasadena Transit to allow me to install my posters in spaces designated for Public Service Announcements.
The bus poster project was well received and the accompanying panel discussion was well attended. You can find out more about the project at www.pasadenatimetravel.com. I am hoping to create a program where other artists can make art for these spaces in the future.