CMC Co-sponsoring 40th Anniversary Bash for El Barrio Park

Claremont McKenna College is co-sponsoring a celebration on Saturday, June 16 of El Barrio Park’s 40th anniversary, as well as the Centennial of Claremont’s Mexican and Catholic community. The all-day event, called “Sitting in the Park,” is open to the public and is described as a celebration of thanksgiving for a unique and resilient community. Local dignitaries including Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district Joe Baca, Claremont Mayor Larry Schroeder, and several city council members, are among the expected guests.

In addition, Richard Santillan, professor emeritus of ethnic and women’s studies at Cal Poly, Pomona, will sign copies of his book, Mexican American Baseball in the Inland Empire.

CMC Director of Facilities and Campus Services Brian Worley says that, for its part, the College will provide a stage, a generator, and sound system, as well as portable toilets, for the June 16 celebration.

Worley says the College’s relationship with the Arbol Verde neighborhood, where El Barrio Park is situated, goes back a number of years. As CMC began acquiring property in the neighborhood, a development agreement with the city of Claremont, and with residents of the Arbol Verde area, was established about 20 years ago. Part of the agreement, he said, concerned establishing new boundaries and improvements to El Barrio Park, which is located on Claremont Boulevard, between First and Sixth streets.

“That has all led to our current relationship today, with CMC proactive in maintaining its ties with the remaining neighbors in Arbol Verde, and the Arbol Verde Preservation group,” Worley says.

The Sitting in the Park event begins at 10 a.m. with a spiritual procession through Claremont’s historic Arbol Verde neighborhood, followed by an open-air mass at 11, at El Barrio Park. Other scheduled activities will include Mexica Danzantes, Mexican Folklorico, Mexican American ’60s Movement Music, and “Calimex” dance music, performed by Los Fabulocos.

Professor Santillan’s book on baseball, which he co-authored, celebrates the thriving culture of former teams from Pomona, Ontario, Cucamonga, Chino, Claremont, San Bernardino, Colton, Riverside, Corona, Beaumont, and the Coachella Valley.

Historians cite that from the early 20th century through the 1950s, baseball diamonds in the Inland Empire provided unique opportunities for nurturing athletic and educational skills, ethnic identity, and political self-determination for Mexican Americans, during an era of segregation. Men’s and women’s teams (Corona Athletics, San Bernardino’s Mitla Caf?, the Colton Mercuries, and Las Debs de Corona) served as an important means for Mexican American communities to examine civil and educational rights and offer valuable insight on social, cultural and gender roles.