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Latinos in Pasadena

By Blog Master
Posted: 08/25/2022

Notes Sharon Jarret:

Dick introduced Roberta Martinez, the author of the book "Latinos in Pasadena" (2009). Ms. Martinez is a Pasadena resident, activist, researcher and producer.

Ms. Martinez began by sharing biographical information. She grew up in East Los Angeles, participated in the student walk outs, eventually moving to Pasadena as an adult. She lived in Pasadena fifteen years before she became aware of the history of Latinos in the city. Much of what was known was limited to the local newspapers. As she became more a part of the community she began to learn from the community "elders" history that was not in writing. Using resources at the Huntington Library, Pasadena Museum of History she began to build her knowledge base. Using a series of photographs she shared what she learned and what became her book "Latinos in Pasadena".

Ms. Martinez began with a land acknowledgement...Pasadena is located on the lands of the Tongva people who also used the name Gabrielano.

The San Gabriel Mission 

Established in 1771. Was the wealthiest of the missions due to tallow production and olive orchards.

The mission was the early center of life before the downtown plaza of Los Angeles. Dona Eulalia Perez de Guilen de Mari, 1766-1878 was an important figure during the mission period. She was present at Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1812 when an earthquake destroyed the mission and killed her husband.

She migrated to Mission San Gabriel with her son. Over time she became the "holder of the keys" to the mission and provided an early oral history of mission life. She served as a midwife and herbalist of the community.

After the Treaty of Guadalupe, she became the holder of title to what would become Rancho Rincon San Pasqual. This land was transferred eventually to Manual Garfias.

Significant members of the community

Pio Pico.   Last Mexican Governor

Arturo Bandini.  Establish the tournament which became the prototype for the Rose Parade. In 1903 hired the Greene Brothers to build a house, El Hogar.  

Elliott Family.  One of the Indiana Colony families. One of their members married into the Bandini Family.

Manual Conteras. Founder of the Mexican American Club of Pasadena 

Mauricio Valadez. First Latino member of the Pasadena Fire Department, 1956.


1910s. Laborers were brought from Mexico. This began the cycle of bringing workers when there was a need and forcing those workers back to Mexico when there was no work. This continued through the 1930s.

Schools and Libraries

From the turn of the century to the 1930s there were 2 schools for Mexican American children, Junipero Serra School and Chihuahita school. Both focused on manual training rather than academics. Serra was closed in 1931 due to under enrollment caused depression era deportations.  

Three population centers


Cypress/Winona in the Northwest

Chihuahita in the eastern part of the city

Cooperative Laundry

Established in the 1930s on what is now Arroyo Parkway. Part of the Social Gospel movement. Provided work to the community.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Raymond and California. Gathering and support structure for the community.

There was a second Catholic Church St John the Baptist which served the Latino community and two Methodist churches in the community.

MEChA -- Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicanos de Aztlan

Founded at Muir High School in 1973. First student organization.

Ms. Martinez then shared a series of photos including:

Liana Yamasaki.   First Latina Rose Queen, 1993

Laura  Farber.   First Latina President of the Tournament of Roses, 2019

Questions and answers followed the presentation. Ms. Martinez concluded by stressing the need for history to be shared within the community "find out about those who were here".  

A Bibliography of sources for the presentation will be posted on the group blog.

The participants thanked Ms. Martinez for her thoughtful presentation.

The next meetings will be September 2nd at 10:00 AM PST and September 16th at 12:00 Noon PST.

Brian Biery will continue his exploration on the history of Pasadena at the meeting on the 16th. This presentation is strutured as a question and answer session with a special guests that an provide personal insights regarding Race in Pasadena. Because of this approach, each session is a fresh new insight into the subject. Every session is engagong and informative, because you are hearing te reflections of peoples actual experience.

The video for this presentation can be viewed by clicking on "Latinos in Pasadena."

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