Showing posts from January, 2016

Community Activist Sylvia Baray Killed by Motorist

by Thomas Varela Beloved East Side Chicana activist Sylvia Baray was born at Santa Marta Hospital in East Los Angeles, October 16, 1937. She passed away this January and was both mourned and lauded by friends, coworkers and colleagues at a funeral mass conducted by Father Ramón Farré at Santa Teresita Parish in the Hazard neighborhood of Boyle Heights.  The Baray family migrated to Los Angeles in the 1920s from Morenci, Arizona where her grandfather worked in the copper mines, say surviving members of her family. They took up residence near Hazard Park, officially a part of the historic Boyle Heights community. She attended Murchison Street Elementary School and graduated from Lincoln High in 1956.  She earned an Associate of Arts degree from ELAC and attended CSULA where she studied social sciences as part of her commitment to social welfare. Survivors include: her son, David Cortez, and a daughter-in-law, Carla Cortez of Rancho Cucamonga; her sister Beatrice “Betty” Baray an

PROFILE: LA Mural Visionary Glenna Avila

Interview by Pancho Lipschitz  You may not know the name Glenna Avila (pictured left), but she created one of the most iconic L.A. murals in the city’s history in addition to guiding the production of nearly one hundred murals working with and eventually taking over for Judy Baca in the city-wide mural program. She continues to foster creativity in young people as director of the Cal Arts Community Arts Partnership program. We met at Self-Help Graphics where CAP students were working on self-portraits, prints and film projects. Like clockwork, we were interrupted every few minutes as students, teachers and friends stopped by to say hello, ask a question or give her a hug. Pancho Lipschitz: What part of L. A. did you grow up in? Glenna Avila: When I was born my family was living in Hollywood. My dad is a musician and he was playing in the studios, but when my brother was born he had severe asthma and the doctor told my parents we should move to the ocean because the air wa

The Future Looks Good From Here

by Richard Vásquez Thank you, Donald Trump. In your zeal for self-promotion and probably because you’re bored with having reached the upper limits of everything that obscene accumulation of wealth has to offer, you have inadvertently focused the spotlight on the most important segment of the U.S. “Hispanic” market: Mexicans. The reason Trump has not felt the full force of what he has stirred up yet is because the voice we, as people who are descendants of Mexican heritage, have needed to respond is only now beginning to gel.  But it’s coming: be sure of that.  And now there is an urgency because we are realizing the scale of our footprint on the US landscape.  Think about it. Singling out Mexicans as the group that has to be feared the most, propelled Trump to frontrunner status among Republicans.  The only time you see that kind of reaction is when you think your power is in jeopardy. The image of a family darting across a freeway after sneaking across the border died with Pete Wi

Elena Rojas Upholds Legacy at El Tepeyac

by Abel M. Salas   Elena Rojas takes her responsibility as the heir to and guardian of the El Tepeyac Café legacy very seriously. Because it came from her late father—the legendary Manuel Rojas—she feels blessed, she says, by the opportunity to extend the hospitality, the warmth and the comfort El Tepeyac and its signature menu have come to represent for a legion of diners from at least three generations and several countries. Dressed in a short-sleeved, white Mexican blouse, jeans and sensible slip-on shoes, she has accented her standard  “uniform” with holiday accessories. Around her neck and on her wrist, miniature Christmas ornaments and silver bells adorned with tiny ribbons and bows announce her movements as she navigates the crowded restaurant floor.   Her eyes gleam with a contagious joy that mirrors the smile she breaks into as she greets old and new customers alike, making sure they being attended adequately.  The self-described “crazy lady” finally takes a seat and