Chicano from the Heartlands Ventures into Los Angeles

ChicanoMan from Omaha flings himself into the jaws of Aztlan when he travels to L.A., to connect with cultura.

By Jose Francisco "Chato" Garcia Rios
Published on LatinoLA: September 8, 2009

Chicano from the Heartlands Ventures into Los Angeles

On the 15th of September, 488 A.C. (after conquest), mi jefita and I are taking part in Omaha's official "Grito de Dolores", at the Joslyn Museum. The next morning, I am going to jump on a plane at 0600 hours and head to San Jose Califas to begin a 10-day adventure accompanied by my sister-in-law, who is from Chino. We will take off for L.A., down Highway One, and begin our visit around the 18th of September.

I have plans to meet with gente that were involved in the Chicano Movimiento back in the 1960's. Will talk to people who were on the same street when Ruben Salazar was assassinated 39 years ago. I want to go to homes where there is Chicano art displayed on the walls. I want to go out in public without being starred at, pointed out and made to feel out of place.

Mira, do not get me wrong. Omaha is home to over 40,000 Razanos, de todas partes! Chicanos going back 5 generations live in this town. Starting in the early 90's gente de nuestra Raza began arriving in droves from Califas, from Texas and soon, the flood-gates opened up y llegadon los Mexicanos!

Where else in the United States could a brown skinned family of seven come to a City with $1,000.00, rent a house, put their chavalitos into good schools and get a job with benefits! You could in Omaha in the 90's.

Now, everyone calls themselves Latinos. The Venenzuelans and Peruvians, the Dominicans and Bolivianos are running Fiestas Patrias and the Mexican American Commission. While the Chicanos, well, the older ones have their own middle class gigs, most of them far from the cultura y tradici??n that made them what they are.

But I regress. My esposita, la Hermosa Linda Garcia Perez, (pictured) is an accomplished Chicana artist. Both of us run Las Artes Cultural Center. A store-front haven for all Chicanos and gente that want to learn and feel Chicano cultura. We have been doing this with no ayuda, with no help from the 'jefes' of our totally W.A.S.P., power structure. So we are beholden to NADIEN, ESE!!.

So it is that at the age of 63, we are again knee deep into Movimiento activities. No longer having to worry about that weekly paycheck, instead we get up every morning to work on papel picado, vintage photographs of the movement, curating our next exposition and in my case, planning my trip to California!!

Already having made arrangements to visit the people organizing this year's Dia de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever and trying to get an appointment at Judy Baca's SPARCS center, I am very interested in being able to sit down and talk with people that went through or have memories of when the "Zoot Riots", occurred in the L.A. area. I also have interest in the Cristero era in Mexico and are looking for Gente that moved to the L.A., movement in the early 30's, to escape the genocidal activities of the Mexican government against Cristeros.

So you can see, I am somewhat of a historian. For all that are interested, I can give a presentation about Chicanos in the Midlands! Yes, we had quite a Movimiento in the Flatlands and our history, the history of the Mestizo, goes back in Nebraska to 1720!!

Please reach out to me because I do not have much more time to plan being that I will be hitting the L.A. area on the 18th of September. Que Dios los bendiga a todos....

con safos,

Jose Francisco "Chato" Garcia Rios
Las Artes Cultural Center
OmahAztlan, Nebraska

About Jose Francisco "Chato" Garcia Rios:
I grew up in a Chicano Barrio in Kansas City, became a soldier in 1966, an U.M.A.S.,President in 69, and exiled out of Kansas City in 76! I am now retired,and running a "casa de cultura".
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