MCLC Mural Dedication – May 8th
This is the moment the veil dropped with 30 people pulling the cord. The Mayor, Maria Elena Durazo, students from
UCLA, Student from Miguel Contreras High School, Union members, sponsors .. everyone!:
Mayor Villaraigosa endorses the Miguel Contreras Mural:
Hola. Buenas tardes/good afternoon. I am José Ramírez-González, Jr. And, I appreciate your attendance. Especially, I treasure the
support of family, friends and professors. All have been key in my development.
It has been an honor to be part of this amazing mural collaboration.
As a child of immigrant parents in search of better opportunities, who have worked the tropical lands of the Yucatán Península of
Southern México, home of the marvelous Mayan culture, and the fields of California especially the world renowned strawberry
fields of Oxnard, it is an honor to be part of commemorating the outstanding labor leader Miguel Contreras, social justice and the
work of laborers in the development of California. They have been key in improving our livelihood. Because of their incredible
contribution to society, we are gathered in warm celebration.
During this incredible journey, we have been blessed to have had been touched by our fellow UCLA team member, Damina Green.
Sadly, she passed away recently while the mural was being finalized. Although she is not with us physically, her beautiful spirit
continues to emanate around us, especially because of her outstanding contribution to our community. Although she was battling
a brain tumor
for a very long time, she had a devotion to improving the lot of youth. Her contributions are immortalized in this piece and will
continue to be an inspiration for future generations.
Finally, I would like to express my deepest admiration to Judy Baca. Her commitment to Social Justice is unconditional! This
passion for Social Justice is inspiring and breathtaking! I thank her from the bottom of my heart for believing in us and for this
amazing opportunity to contribute to the community. During her outstanding journey, she has given countless opportunities to
generations of youths. She has created endless mutual-understanding environments in order for communities to unite. As I like
to refer to her, she is a designer of dreams.
Therefore, the opportunities to honor our family, culture, labor leaders, communities and to learn from Judy Baca have been an
amazing experience beyond our wildest expectations.
Thank you. Now, I would like for all to give a warm welcome to a fellow team member I have a high regard for, Adriana Macías.
UCLA student Andrea Macias’ Speech:
Thank you Jose. Good afternoon. I’d like to welcome you and thank all of you for coming. I am one of the UCLA students that had the
great opportunity to work with Judy Baca, SPARC, and the PULSE students here at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. I’d like
to share with you my experience in the process of this mural development.
Many people may not know all the hard work that goes into developing a concept behind community-based art. There were many
hours of research on the Labor movements and Miguel Contreras, We had several workshops, and many, many creative ideas. We
learned that Miguel Contreras was a prominent leader that fought for labor rights and social justice. We also learned that he was
working in the fields as a child with his family when he was inspired by Dolores Huerta to join the UFW because of unfair labor
contracts. This was our foundation for the mural which is depicted in the first half.
The second half of the mural is the most inspiring. In meeting with the community and speaking with the high school students we
learned of their challenges, dreams and aspirations. Through an epiphany index card workshop, we asked the students what events
in your life have made an impact and how have this events influenced your life? What we discovered was many students saw violence
and crime in their neighborhoods, many of their friends were dropping out of school and many families suffered financial hardships.
We wanted to represent these young voices. Some students realized how important an education is because they see the sacrifices their
families have made for them. Other students stated that expressing themselves through music, art and poetry was their personal
sanctuary and freedom. Some students revealed the injustices they suffered because they felt the pressure of having to fill a mold within
a social category. Through all of these obstacles, I was most inspired by the hope that these young students continue to hold on to. And
together we realized that no matter how different we may appear to be, we all have high hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow.
My first encounter with muralism was in my elementary years where I spoke in front of a news camera about the magnificent mural
that was done at my elementary school inspiring young children to “Take the Future in your Hands” as the mural was called. As I
grew older, I marveled at the Great Wall of Los Angeles. And now, 20 years later I am here speaking to all of you about muralism
and community-based art. Professor Baca, I want to thank you, everyone at SPARC and express my appreciation for the digital mural
lab. Thank you for your passion and dedication to social justice and the Arts. Thank you for teaching and inspiring me to express my
voice and my identity where mere words could not do justice.
On that note, I’d like to introduce to you an amazing young woman that is wiser beyond her years – from one generation to another,
Karina Perez Alvarado.
UCLA student Karina Perez’s Speech:
Hello thank you all so much for being here sharing this special moment with us. My name is Karina and I am a graduate from Miguel
Contreras currently a student at UCLA. When I first met Judy I said “Judy, I want to be a social Justice artist” little did I know that a
few months later I would receive my acceptance letter from UCLA and get myself enrolled in Judy Baca’s class. Producing this mural
along with Miguel Contreras Pulse club, an art and revolution here club on this campus, and other UCLA students not only expanded
my mind but also allowed me to establish strong relationships with my classmates. We spent so much time together that it’s like we
had a whole new family at the lab. Unfortunately, one of members has now passed. Damina. I remember the first time I talked to
Damina was when she gave me a ride home. I was confused on how to pronounce her name and too shy to ask her so I decided to
nickname her Dee. Unfortunately Dee is no longer physically with us but she remains in our hearts joyous and lively as she was.
Together we worked on this great piece that lives before your eyes. My focus was on the tattoos on the buildings. These tattoos
depict the various realities that we face as a community. One of these realities is that our parents are working two or three shifts
to make ends meet. Our parents left behind who they wanted to be so that today we could be what we dream of becoming. Youth that
are here I tell you, don’t let people tell you you cant become what you dream of. I tell you, I am undocumented womyn of color at the
UCLA and I did it. Now I want you to show me that you can accomplish your dreams too. Show me how its done! Claro que si se puede.
Vamos a hecharle ganas! Thank you!
Video of the Installation: