CSUSB Student Awarded Grant for Upland Public Library

Cal State San Bernardino student Blanca Garcia-Barron was inspired by what she had learned in a public history class

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: July 9, 2015

CSUSB Student Awarded Grant for Upland Public Library

Cal State San Bernardino student Blanca Garcia-Barron was so inspired by what she had learned in a public history class that she had to put her new knowledge to the test.

She wrote a grant proposal ‘«Ű her first one ever ‘«Ű on behalf of the Upland Public Library, where she works as a library assistant, and the Ontario City Library to the National Endowment for the Humanities' "Latino Americans: 500 Years of History" program. She was seeking funding for a year-long project that would tell the story of Latinos in the neighboring cities of Upland and Ontario within the larger history of Latinos in the United States.

The result: the local project received one of 148 grants worth $3,000 from the NEH and the American Library Association. Garcia-Barron said plans are to launch in late September with the first component of the project: an exhibit loaned by the Latino Baseball History Project, based at Cal State San Bernardino, to be displayed in the Upland Public Library.

Also planned is an effort to collect the oral histories of Latinos who live in Ontario and Upland to share their stories and to honor part of the diversity that shapes the two cities.
Included during the year will be two programs based on two episodes from the PBS documentary series "Latino Americans." The first will focus on the war experience of Latinos in the U.S. military and will feature work by Tom?Ūs Summer Sandoval, chair of the history department at Pomona College, who is currently compiling an oral history of Latino military veterans. The panel presentations will be held at the Upland and Ontario libraries; the dates will be announced later.

The second program will focus on the immigrant experience of Latinos, and the panel discussion will be led by Jose Mu??oz, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, and Cherstin Lyon, associate professor of history at CSUSB. It was Lyon's public history class that inspired Garcia-Barron.

"I'm really passionate about this field, and taking Dr. Lyon's class, I learned the theory," said Garcia-Barron, who plans to graduate in 2016. "After that class, I thought, 'I want to actually do it.'"

Upland Public Library Director Yuri Hurtado gave Garcia-Barron the go-ahead to pursue the grant, and while optimistic of the proposal's chances, she said it was more of a chance to apply theory to real-world application, given that she also knew the process was highly competitive.

She said she learned of the award via a text message from Hurtado while she was driving, and then pulled over and called Hurtado to make sure she read the text right.
She did.

"I was really, really excited," said Garcia-Barron, who then drove back to CSUSB to share the news. While Lyon was out of town that day, Garcia-Barron sought out every history faculty that she knew to tell them of the grant award.

While obtaining the grant award ‘«Ű especially in her first attempt ‘«Ű is an achievement, Garcia-Barron is also mindful of its larger purpose: to bring more awareness of the rich history and diversity that has shaped and continues to shape the region. And along with that is the effort to foster a broader understanding of the different people and cultures that make up the Inland Empire.

Part of that is to share the experience of immigrants: what motivated them to come to the U.S., the struggles and challenges they face, and their desire to contribute to their new home.

Garcia-Barron was born in Mexico, and came to the United States with her parents when she was 2 years old. Though she and her family are now American citizens, she was aware of the challenges her parents faced to get to that point.

"I didn't really struggle for that, but I know my parents did," she said. "And so it means a lot to me to share that history, especially now, with the issue of immigration and all the things (presidential hopeful) Donald Trump was saying," she said, referring to disparaging remarks Trump made about immigrants from Mexico.

And that broadened awareness is the reason the NEH developed the grant program, which is aimed at encouraging a public exploration of the rich and varied experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last five centuries and who have become, with more than 50 million people, the country's largest minority group.

"Cultural programs like this are crucial for the Inland Empire as we both honor and celebrate the diversity of our region and take the time to learn more about the experiences our friends and neighbors have had that brought them here," said U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Rancho Cucamonga, in a statement about the grant award.

While she wrote the grant, Garcia-Barron is quick to call it a team effort, listing the assistance she received from Lyons and Mu??oz from CSUSB and Summers-Sandoval from Pomona College, along with Shawn Thrasher from the Ontario City Library. In addition she also cited Cesar Caballero, dean of CSUSB's John M. Pfau Library, for the loan of the Latino Baseball History Project exhibit, and CSUSB alumnus Mark Ocegueda, a historian and a doctorate candidate at UC Irvine.

Visit the National Endowment for the Humanities website at for more information on the "Latino Americans: 500 Years of History" project.

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