CSUSB Receives Grant for History Project on Mexican Americans

Cal Humanities has awarded Cal State San Bernardino a grant to support the oral history project "Growing up in Colton"

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: August 10, 2015

CSUSB Receives Grant for History Project on Mexican Americans

Cal Humanities, a non-profit organization that promotes and funds humanities research in California, has awarded Cal State San Bernardino a $10,000 grant to support the oral history project "Growing up in Colton: An Oral History of Mexican Americans in South Colton, 1890-1960."

CSUSB's award was part of a comprehensive grant totaling $180,000 distributed among a variety of humanities projects throughout the state.

Initiated in 2013, the on-going project explores and documents the history of South Colton, a once-segregated community, through videotaped interviews with people born and raised in what was once known as "The Mexican Side of Town," an area within the city of Colton encompassing 1.3 square miles.

The proposal for the project was first presented to Cesar Caballero, dean of the CSUSB Pfau Library, by Tom Rivera, who retired as CSUSB's associate dean of undergraduate studies after 40 years at the university, along with local retired educators Frank Acosta and Henry Vasquez.

Excited by the proposal since it was first presented, Caballero offered support and encouragement for the "Growing up in Colton" project, helping to make it a reality.

"We're delighted to have been awarded the grant from Cal Humanities," Caballero said. "Its mission is to connect Californians to our shared heritage and diverse cultures, which nicely complements both CSUSB's commitment to diversity and the goals of our South Colton History Project. Dr. Rivera, together with Mr. Acosta and Mr. Vasquez, have captured an important -- and little-known -- part of Colton's history.

"The insights gained from the project will allow for a more textured examination of South Colton's segregated era, thereby enriching our understanding of the city's history and that of California, as well," said Caballero. "Both current and future scholars will find the information uncovered by the project enormously valuable."
The project will be housed in the Library's Special Collection Archive.

Rivera described an unexpected benefit from the project. "Though we are still interviewing people, the project has already introduced dozens of interviewees to CSUSB, many of whom -- most past the age of 70 -- had never visited the university," he said. "The experience of participating in an interview on campus has resulted in a new-found appreciation for CSUSB as a valuable community resource, and as a vehicle for furthering their family's educational and professional advancement."

He added that Mrs. Tom Cabrera, a project participant, was so impressed with CSUSB that she contributed two $500 scholarships to the College of Business and Public Administration.

Rivera, his wife, Lily Rivera, a retired educator and Robie Madrigal, Pfau Library staff member, co-authored the grant proposal, with assistance from Rachel Weiss, director of CSUSB's Research and Sponsored Programs, who prepared the grant's budget.

In response to the news of the funding, Rivera said, "Our project team is grateful for the award. We look forward to presenting our research findings in March at a free-to-the-public campus event as part of the university's 50th anniversary celebration."

The presentation, titled "Discovering Parallels between CSUSB and the Colton Community: Growing Up in Colton," will take place on March 3, 2016, in the Pfau Library, Room PL-4005, at 6 p.m., beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m.

Complimentary parking will be available. Visit the parking kiosk at the main entrance of campus on University Parkway to secure a free parking permit.

For questions about the project or its presentation, contact Tom Rivera at (909) 213-0515 or email .

For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university's Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit

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