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Shout Out to Young People Learning in El Monte, California

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(This post is by Suzanne Schadl, Chief of the Hispanic Division)

This summer the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress enjoyed working virtually with four high school students from El Monte, California. Thanks to a partnership with the Upward Bound program at Harvey Mudd College and the Georgetown Internship project, the Hispanic Division has been fortunate to work with young people from the East San Gabriel Valley for more than a decade. The current head of the Hispanic Reading Room, Carlos Olave has worked with Upward Bound Harvey Mudd interns since 1992.  This year, joined by Reference Librarian Talia Guzmán-González, Mr. Olave welcomed the Hispanic Division’s first virtual interns. “Signing off from El Monte, California” became a standard for weekly meetings.

In her Civil Rights History Project Interview, El Monte resident, Chicana activist, and Tongva elder, Gloria Arellanes talks about racism her family experienced when they moved to El Monte in 1951. She credits this treatment as a driving force behind her initial engagement with the Brown Berets, which she described as her education: “My dad wanted me in college. He was working to put me in college, and I did go right—I went to one semester at East LA College, and I told him, “Dad, it’s just not for me.” I felt like everything just went over me. And it didn’t make sense to me, and I needed to get that life experience in my case. So, that’s what I started doing. And from there, it was protesting everything that was unjust. And then learning about other groups that were doing the same thing.”

Gloria Arellanes oral history interview by David P. Cline in El Monte, California, 2016 June 26

The Upward Bound program aims to make sense of college for participating students and more than 90 percent of recipients enroll in post-secondary institutions after graduating from high school. The students start after ninth grade by participating in a free six-week summer program in residence at Harvey Mudd. After the 10th grade, these same participants attend a second six-week summer program with the Capitol Internship program at UC Davis or the La Jolla Science Project at UC San Diego. The following year they have the option of attending the Georgetown Internship program, where they take four hours of U.S. history and American literature classes and participate in a four-hour internship in a professional office or government agency.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the Upward Bound interns worked with the Hispanic Division remotely from their homes in El Monte. They continued a project started by their 2019 predecessors on a social media calendar that helps link digitally accessible Latin American and Latino collection items at the Library of Congress with specific dates on the calendar.

This evolving calendar is a useful tool for anyone looking to highlight Hispanic Heritage in the United States. Many thanks to our interns and the Upward Bound program!

Here are some other September Hispanic Heritage occasions to commemorate:

The Estefans symbolize the rich cultural diversity of the American musical experience.

Cuban-American singer, songwriter, actress and business woman Gloria Estefan celebrates her birthday in September. In 2019, she and her husband received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

On September 30, 1972 Puerto Rican baseball great—Roberto Clemente, made his 3000th and his last regular season hit. He died three months later in a plane crash transporting earthquake relief to Nicaragua. You can read about the impact of the Hispanic community on baseball in the blogpost, “Baseball and Hispanic Community: Finding Inspiration in the Collections.”

The Colorado Rockies’ Jose Reyes smacks a single at Coors Field, home of the Rockies major-league baseball team in Denver, Colorado, 2015.

On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay. While exploring the northwest shores of Mexico. Cabrillo’s observations may have informed Diego Gutierrez’s draft of the first map of America to include the name California, which references Baja California, or Cape California.

Americae sive qvartae orbis partis nova et exactissima descriptio (America, or the Fourth Part of the World, New and Most Exact Description)


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