Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Voces presentes/Voices here

About a 1/3 of the population of Pasadena is Latino. When I share that fact with folks outside of the city they are generally surprised. Most think of Pasadena as being the home of folks who are incredibly well to do and white. Those who know something of the history of the city know that there has long been a black community here. But most folks are really shocked to know that one out of three Pasadenans are Latino.

Within that third are some folks who are millionaires and some folks who are struggling to feed their families. There are those who are monolingual English or Spanish speakers and those who speak a version their second language that sits on native speakers ears like nails on a chalkboard. Also within the community are folks whose origins are from many of Spanish speaking countries.
Salvadoreños who live and/or work in Pasadena include Randy Ertll; author and Executive Director of El Centro de Accion Social. Robert Monzon, Yuny Parada, Mauricio Mejia, and many more have started groups, worked to heighten community visibility, or better the experience of Latinos in Pasadena. Many serve on city commissions or work for the city.
Pablo Alvarado is the National Coordinator, for the the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. As a young man he worked in the fields of El Salvador. Encouraged by his father he pursued his education, and like others who lived in war torn El Salvador, came to the United States. He has received many honors for his work in this country. In 2005 he was listed among the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America by Time magazine. The article mentions that he and his family live in Pasadena.

Pablo is among the voces presentes in Pasadena; the voices that are here who might not be known outside of some circles. They are among the voices in our city who give it a character that is unique in the San Gabriel Valley.


  1. It surprises me sometimes to find out how people regard things based on old opinions. Even businesses are run (and lost) based on suppositions rather than realities.

    The world is a constantly changing place and Pasadena exemplifies that. Mr. Alvarado is perhaps unique, but he is becoming less so--and I mean that in a good way.

  2. I hope to highlight some folks who live and work in the area who have different heritages/countries of origin. In 2000 I think folks with Salvadoreño heritage comprised about 3% of the Latino population in Pasadena.

    Many Latinos, from different geographical areas, remind me of the old Jack Smith/Herb Caen rivalry. Each immensely proud of where they live; often feeling that their homeland (LA/San Francisco) was the best place on earth. With many Latinos you can add a category of pride to personal or familial origins.