When a teenager named Arturo Villarreal was toiling in the fields and canneries of San José, he had no idea he was making history by helping his native city blossom into the flourishing metropolis it is today. He also had no idea that 40 years later, he would be making history—quite literally—by writing about it.
The idea for the upcoming book, Mexicans In San José, came to Evergreen Valley College (EVC) Professor Nannette Regua when she saw a similar image book by Arcadia Publishing called Filipinos in Stockton. Turns out, no one had done a photo history book of Mexicans in San José. So Regua sold the idea to the publisher and talked Villarreal, a professor of Ethnic Studies and Anthropology at EVC, into co-authoring the book.
Unsung heroes-those who sweated and toiled in the industries that built San José’s economy and infrastructure-are the subjects of their book. “Women, in particular, were extremely effective as community organizers and church leaders, so women are a major focus of the book,” says Regua.
To find relevant subjects, the two professors asked community leaders for recommendations.
They have also been soliciting photos of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans working, meeting, organizing, teaching, celebrating and socializing, from the larger San José community as well as from their students at the college. With one-third of its population being Latino, EVC is a natural starting point.
“I want readers of this book to come away with pride about the many historical contributions and values we Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have brought to San José,” says Regua, an adjunct professor of History. “We see the book as a form of cultural recognition, encouraging confidence and pride among the population that built this city.”
Villarreal agrees: “When you know your history, your rightful place in society, you feel empowered by it.”
Regua and Villarreal are in the final stage of writing the book, which will be released in September. It will feature sections on Arts and Entertainment, Church and Family, Leaders of Organizations and San Jose’s cultural history dating from 1777. Those with pictures of agriculture and cannery work can still submit and are encouraged to contact Professors Regua and Villarreal at 408-274-7900, extensions 2053 and 6609 respectively.