Community Focus Event: The San Fernando Valley Historical Society
The first event of the 2022-2023 Season will feature Daisy Herrera, PhD student at UCR and an intern at the Smithsonian, and the San Fernando Valley Historical Society.
Thursday, September 29, 2022 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Topic: “Segregation and Resistance in the San Fernando Valley in the 20th Century: New Approaches and Findings”
Daisy R. Herrera is a Ph.D. student in the History Department at the University of California, Riverside and has an interdisciplinary academic background in History, Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, and Chicano Studies. Her research focuses on the ethnic Mexicans’ struggles and resistance against racial formation, citrus labor exploitation, and school and housing segregation within L.A. County’s San Fernando Valley (SFV) throughout the twentieth century. By approaching the archival silences and incorporating oral histories through a transnational lens of the concept of “Greater Mexico,” Daisy will trace the socio-political development of the area pre-and-post the Chicano Movement. She is involved with various local and national organizations including the SFV Historical Society, the Oral History Association, the Southwest Oral History Association, Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, and has published a few book reviews for the Southern California Quarterly Journal.
The San Fernando Valley, nestled between the Santa Susana, Santa Monica, San Gabriel, and Verdugo Mountain ranges just north of the Los Angeles Basin, is a multi-ethnic area whose contribution to the emerging Southern California historiography has been largely understudied. With its original settlement dating back to the Tongva peoples, the area endured various sediments of colonialism (Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo) in less than a century, fabricating a Spanish Heritage Fantasy Past culture strengthened byt the arrival of tycoon developers such as Senator Charles Mcclay, Isaac Van Nuys, George K. Porter, and Isaac Lankershim and the inevitable boom of Southern California’s “Citrus Belt.” This presentation will showcase the history of the ethnic Mexican community through two overlapping ways: first, by underscoring the struggles against racial formation determined by the area’s cemetery segregation, death certificate content, and public health disparities. And second, by reconstructing the history and expansion of Pico Court, the citrus-company sponsored duplex dwelling that housed citrus laborers escaping the Mexican Revolution and later the braceros exploited during and after World War II. Despite the racial formation defining place-making throughout the greater San Fernando area, ethnic Mexicans became agents of resilience by developing and strengthening a transnational community identity from 1910 to 1965. The community’s labor and leisure activities were fundamental in the economic expansion of the Valley and the development of one of the largest ethnic Mexican populations of Greater Los Angeles.