La Oferta

August 15, 2022

Filling a Hole in History:  “East Side Dreams- The Untold Story of East San José”

East Side Dreams Exhibit at Martin Luther King Library will be open until September 24th, 2022

By Elena E. Robles

San Jose, CA, July 12, 2022 – San Jose’s Dr. King Library played  host to nearly 300 people last Saturday for “East Side Dreams- The Untold Story of East San José,” its first-ever comprehensive showcase on the history and contributions of the residents in San Jose’s most populated community.  The free exhibit continues through September 24th.

From left to right Jill Bourne, Director of SJPL; Estella Inda, California Room Clerk; Kathryn Blackmer Reyes, Director of the AAACNA Studies Center; Carmela Castellanos, President of Castellanos Family Foundation; Mike Meth, Dean of SJSU Library; and Shane Curtin, California Room Librarian.

Hundreds of donated photographs, posters, and artifacts are being displayed in the Africana, Asian American, Chicano and Native American Studies Center (AAACNA), California Room, 5th Floor lobby, and the Di Napoli Gallery. In addition, an on-going video from the newly donated Alcario Castellanos archive of the last 30 years of community parades, events and marches will be playing on the 5th floor.

A series of photographs related to McKee Road can be seen behind the glass.

Kathryn Blackmer Reyes, Director of the AAACNA Studies Center is quick to give credit to Estella Inda, Clerk with the California Room archival collections, as the spark that eventually made this venture a reality.

The California Room archives now proudly displays examples from various collections of San Jose Hispanic publications, including El Excentrico Magazine from the 1960s, 70’s and 80’s and the Mary and Frank Andrade Archives of 40 years of La Oferta Review Newpaper.

Several years ago, Inda was approached by a patron for a copy of the very popular Low Rider Magazine that was created and printed by ex-San Jose State students. The California room archives didn’t have any and nothing significant came of an Internet search. Inda, whose mother grew up in East “SanJo,” became passionate about correcting this flaw.

Rigo Chacon points to his passport when he came from Chihuahua, Mexico as a child migrant worker. Later, he graduated from SJSU and became a lifelong news reporter, won several Emmys, and founded an education scholarship foundation. You can see the manual typewriter he used for decades.

Not only were they able to gather thousands of items from residents and community activists, but also historic items from many East Side notables such as Jim Plunket: 49er and Raiders quarterback, first Latino Heisman Award winner and the only Latino to be named a Super Bowl MVP; Rigo Chacón: the first TV reporter of Mexican decent in U.S. history to win an Emmy and who founded the “Abrazos and Books” scholarship program; and Blanca Alvarado: the first Latina elected to San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara County Boards of Supervisors.

Len Ramirez, Jr. with his wife Julie, point out that his dad and mom were President and Recording Secretary in the 1950’s  SJ Community Service Organization when Cesar Chavez got his start.

This avalanche of new donations will eventually be digitized for research and the enjoyment of people around the world. The heritage of the City of San José is now a bit more complete. People can soon view the recording of the opening program speeches at https://sjpl.org/eastside dreams and find who to contact to make an archival contribution.

Director, actress, and founder of Teatro Vision, Elisa Marina Alvarado is remembering 1970 UFW boycotts with artist and Dia de Muertos expert, Phyllis Carrasco. Both women grew up near the East Side Safeway portrayed in the Cesar Chavez display by journalist and La Oferta Newspaper publisher, Mary J. Andrade. Photo portraits from Mary’s research project “Solidarity-Hispanic Senior Citizens” are also on prominent display on the second floor.

Two free events will be offered before the collection closes. “East Side Stories: Community Members & Activists” will be held on Saturday, August 13, at 1:00 p.m. and “The East Side’s Impact in San Jose’s Impact in San José: A Conversation with Scholars” will be held on Saturday, September 3, at 1:00 p.m.

More information and a list of speakers can be found at https://library.sjsu.edu/eastsidedreams

The author of this article, Elena Robles with Rigo Chacon and Tony Estremera enjoying the East Side history displayed on exhibit.