Above: Mural of Father Harold Rahm, the "bicycle priest." He came to El Segundo in the 1950s and did much to divert the energy of gang youth in a positive direction. He was a Jesuit priest at El Sagrado Corazon, an ex-boxer who, the elders of the barrio have told me, would challenge young men to fight him. If he won, they would leave the gang. He always won. He is in his 90s and now working in Brazil.
El Segundo Barrio, El Paso's Second Ward, is one of the most important Mexican and Mexican American barrios in the United States. Thousands trace their family roots to this barrio because El Paso was the main port of entry for most of the twentieth century. My own family started its US history in El Segundo Barrio and the family stories live on of life there in the early twentieth century. This week, I spent a morning walking in El Segundo with my granddaughter and my partner, remembering my ancestors and their journey.
Photo of my mother, Esther Chavez, in front of the presidio where she lived in El Segundo. It was here that her mother, Maria Lopez, died of pneumonia in 1927 and where her little brother Salvador, just a baby when his mother died, also passed away of a broken heart, missing his mama.
One of my favorite murals, Sister Cities by Los Dos. The sisters have their hair braided together. Like El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, the sisters are forever joined together. Despite the dividing line, the border fence (yes, we already have a border wall here), and the increasing fear of crossing, we are one community tied together by history, family and friends, culture, and economic interdependence.
Walking through El Paso I saw barbed wire and beauty, reflecting la frontera where I live. Even amidst the barbed fire, the fences, the presence of the Border Patrol, people create beauty everywhere.
Entrance to an alley way.