Upon walking into Chicano Park, I wasn’t sure of what I was supposed to feel. I had been to Chicano Park once before, but it didn’t nearly have the impact that many people had claimed it had had on them, and had even left me a bit disappointed. I guess I had been expecting something more than just a bunch of public murals and art. But, this past time was different. One of the things that really had an impact on me was the history lesson that Professor Luis Alvarez gave us. Listening to him talk really helped me to understand the histories behind the park itself, the importance of giving expression to Chicano histories, the reclaiming of Chicano space by painting on the very freeway that took away from their community. I thought it was also very powerful to hear how they had built up this park and made it into a living and breathing space from something that had before been considered undesirable.
After that, when we were given time to walk around, I felt almost empowered. Looking at the murals, walking into the nearby market, sitting on the swings, strolling around the community garden, I could really feel the life and the community that had been built up around this park. By the time our tour of Chicano Park was over, it made me sad to see the tinges of gentrification that had begun to creep around the outskirts of the barrio, and caused me to long for some sort of solution. Chicano Park and the Barrio Logan that surrounds it is not some sort of history lesson that we read about in our books and texts, but it is a space that is alive. It holds a community that is alive as well. This trip was eye-opening and powerful in that it made history more real to me, and opened my eyes to the reality of people’s struggles and communities. It helped me to live outside of myself for just a few moments.