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‘Caminos’ discussion explores diversity of Latino communities

Dr. Alex Saragoza as he presents his second discussion for the ongoing Caminos exhibit at the Arts Center in Merced.
Dr. Alex Saragoza as he presents his second discussion for the ongoing Caminos exhibit at the Arts Center in Merced.

With charm, humor, facts, and an undeniable attention to detail, Dr. Alex Saragoza returned to the Multicultural Arts Center (MAC) in downtown Merced last weekend for a second discussion about the ongoing “Caminos” exhibit.

Caminos is a historical look at the origins and movements of Latino people in California. The exhibit follows the Spanish explorations and the Mexican era of Alta California to the transformation of the valley in the Early American period. It follows the growth of Mexican immigration in the 20th century, boosted by the Mexican Revolution and the Bracero Program.

“What I try to emphasize are certain ‘turns’ that occur in the history of a country, and its people, its citizens, and so on,” Saragoza said. “They are fundamental to understanding what happened here in the Central Valley for the Mexican origin community given its diversity. Because some now are third or fourth generation, some are recent newcomers from Mexico, and everything in between.”

Because of the incredible social and technological developments of the 1900s, according to Saragoza, each group of immigrants, as well as subsequent generations of Mexican Americans, developed their own unique identities and communities.

Saragoza gave an example of how the invention of the washing machine and other household innovations were able to not only change social interactions within Latino communities, but also indirectly support their placement as a working class in the United States.

Saragoza is scheduled to give another discussion on Sunday, Oct. 29, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at the MAC.

“The next speech will have to do with where do we go from here,” he said. “The last chapter of this exhibit asks the question ‘Are we there yet?’ I’ve tried in this in this exhibit, along with my sidekick, Nancy Marquez, to show how complicated this story is about Mexicans here in the United States. So, I’m gonna come back to that theme in the last session, ‘Where do we go from here?’ Given we still have challenges in education. We have challenges in health. We have challenges in terms of civic participation. We have challenges for the elderly who are Latino who have been here for 50, 60, even 70 years. We have what happened recently in the floods in Planada and Le Grand. I mean there’s still a lot of work to do in dealing with the issue of Mexicans here equitably and with justice and fairness.”

The MAC is located at 645 W. Main Street in Merced. Gallery hours: Wednesday-Friday, 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Call (209) 388-1090, email: [email protected], or visit: www.artsmerced.org.

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