Pasadena Historian, Author Discusses Almost-Forgotten Mass Deportations of Latinos in the 1920's, 1930's

Published : Wednesday, April 5, 2017 | 5:38 AM

Author Roberta H. Martínez, a well-known Pasadena historian and community advocate, will be discussing how mass deportations of Mexican-Americans in Southern California were carried out in the late 1920s and early 1930s by federal immigration authorities at a forum Friday, April 7, at Dupar’s Restaurant and Bakery, located at 214 S Lake Avenue in Pasadena.

The mass deportations have been largely forgotten, but at the time were so significant they resulted in the closures of two segregated Pasadena Unified School District elementary schools because the local Latino population was decimated.

Martinez, also a lecturer, television producer, city commissioner, trustee of the Armory Center for the Arts, and advisor for the Pasadena Historical Museum and Pasadena Unified School District, is the author of the 2009 book, “Latinos in Pasadena,” published by Arcadia Publishing.

The book tells the story of Mexican Americans and other Latinos who commonly worked for Pasadena’s rich and famous but whose legacies have been only sparsely preserved through the generations – even though these citizens often made remarkable community contributions and lived in close proximity to their employers.

“Latinos in Pasadena” tells a fuller story of the Pasadena area from vintage images and the accompanying information that Martinez culled from anecdotes, master’s theses, newspaper articles, formal and informal oral histories, and the Ethnic History Research Project compiled for the City of Pasadena in 1995.

Among the stories told is that of Antonio F. Coronel, a one-time Mexican Army officer who served as California state treasurer from 1866 to 1870 and whose image graced the 1904 Tournament of Roses program.

The author gathered these vintage images from local families and the archives of the Huntington, Bancroft, Braun, Pasadena, Los Angeles, and University of Southern California libraries.

Martinez currently lives in Pasadena with husband James Grimes and with their son, Matthew. She currently serves as the volunteer Executive Director of Latino Heritage, the Chair of the Library Commission of the City of Pasadena, and a board member of the Pasadena Senior Center, serving on the Governance Committee.

Martinez has been writing her blog, “A Pasadena Latina,” since 2010. She is currently employed as an independent consultant and researcher.

The discussion on Friday is part of a regular forum by the Pasadena Progressive Discussion Group, which meets twice a month and attracts local intellectuals and thoughtful citizens to discuss pressing social justice topics.

The forums are co-sponsored by ACT Pasadena, considered the oldest progressive grassroots political action group in the Foothills, and the Arroyo Democratic Club (ADC).

On Friday, the discussion starts at 9 a.m.

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