Here's an essay that went up on Friday at Zocalo Public Square titled, "A Piece of Home in a Lost Mural." In it, I relate my search last year for an old mural that I remember from my childhood, at the National City Public Library (the old one, not the one pictured in that link).
From the piece:
When I finally arrived to check it out, the library was shut down, the 1970s-style brown-on-brown building locked and unused. It turned out National City had built a new library a few years back, down the way in Kimball Park. When I walked over to see if the mural was there, I couldn’t find it. I asked around, spurred both by reportorial instinct and by a more personal desire I couldn’t quite identify. No one knew what I was talking about. But I needed an answer.
My curiosity about the state and status of this mural sparked connections that otherwise would likely not have happened with two men whom I now admire greatly, David Avalos and Juan Parrino.
Avalos was persistent and active in our search for the library mural; without his tenacity we would not have found it. In a long series of email correspondence, Parrino was crucial in illuminating the history behind the mural, how it was conceived and executed. As I describe in the piece, the library mural was created collectively by National City youth.
"In effect they had made fundamental movement towards becoming empowered citizens," Parrino wrote me, referring to the teens who participated in the project. "By empowered I mean their sense that they had the ability to achieve purpose and by citizens I am not referring to legalistic terms of documentation status, but rather to being engaged members of society with entitlement to defend, demand, and demonstrate for their civil and human rights."
Avalos is still active in the South Bay community in San Diego and teaches at Cal State San Maros. (Here's a mention of some of his work in the U-T in 2007.) Parrino is now an organizer at United Teachers Los Angeles. Here are images of the four panels, provided by Avalos. I do not recall the order in which they were hung. I am uploading them labeled as they were sent to me. Panel 1, Panel 2, Panel 3, Panel 4.
Last we heard from the city, officials are hoping to re-display the mural in a public setting in the near future. I'll keep you updated.
* Thank you David, Juan.