Councilwoman Amanda P. Sandoval, along with Denver Chief Storyteller Rowena Alegria, took the stage at the Holiday Theater Tuesday night to present the film, ¡Que Viva La Raza! Honoring a Denver’s Legacy and to discuss the preservation of La Raza Park.
In partnership with MCA Denver, and the Denver Office of Storytelling, Councilwoman Sandoval organized the community event to discuss the importance of keeping the culture and honoring the stories of her community.
“I want to make sure that the people who are coming into our community understand who was here before them, and how important it is to honor them, and how much we have fought for, and how the struggle has been real, “ said Sandoval.
Organizers honored the community by providing pan dulce from long time local business Rosales Mexican Bakery and screening ¡Que Viva La Raza! Honoring a Denver’s Legacy, a documentary overview of more than the 150-year history of Mexicano, Chicano/x, and Latino/x people in Denver.
Highlighting a variety of voices from the Latino community, the 32-minute documentary shares the story of Rosa Linda Aguirre and her restaurant Rosa Linda’s. Located in Northside, Rosa Linda’s was beloved by the community for 30 years, serving hearty Mexican dishes and offering their Annual Thanksgiving Feast to the Needy. Rosa Linda recalls the diversity in the neighborhood and compares it to a bouquet, filled with different colors and languages. Although she closed the doors in 2015, Rosa Linda takes pride in the effect her restaurant had on the neighborhood. By opening it’s doors it brought people together.
Following the documentary Chicana activist Nita Gonzales began the conversation by sharing her thoughts on the importance of young people knowing where they belong and their moral standing in Colorado.
“I think it’s just scratching the surface of the history that we play here. And I would just say history is important because it tells you, your people’s place, and your place, it tells you what you contribute to, what you add to, and if you don’t have that in history than you feel like you don’t exist and need to add anything.”
La Raza Park has been a major part of the Chicano Rights movement. For many like Diane Medina and Ana Castañeda, La Raza Park has been a part of their entire lives. When asked about their favorite memory of the park, Ana recounts a memory of the swim meet celebration held at the park when she was young.
“I remember that the opening ceremony was done by Corky Gonzales, and once he did his speech and the music started playing, the kids had their swim meets, they had their diving competitions, peaceful.”
Other community members shared what the community means to them so future generations continue to preserve the park. Lorenzo Ramirez, artistic director for Grupo Folklorico Sabor Latino, has called Northside home since 1985. His involvement with La Raza Park was through the crusade for justice, contributing his artistic talent by painting murals at the park’s bathhouse. It was during his time working at the park where he learned about the importance of this community.
“There is a lot of history here, there’s a lot of stories that need to be told, and need to be preserved.”
Councilwoman Sandoval hopes that events like these can open discussion and bring awareness to communities like Denver’s Northside.
“How I as a Latina born and raised in the Northside, graduated from North High School, our family started a local restaurant, I stand on the shoulders of those who come before me. I stand on mighty great shoulders. And it’s my job to use my position to be able to elevate those voices.”
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