chicano park mural discussion forum 1

Guidelines for Chicano Park Discussion Forum

For this assignment, we will utilize a discussion forum, and we will devote some time discussing some of the themes and topics from the murals of San Diego’s iconic Chicano Park. After we observe the Chicano Park film later on in this semester, each of you will then select one of the murals and provide a critical thinking analysis of that mural. I will provide more details on what you need to discuss in just a few moments, but first let me provide you with some nuts-and-bolts details about posting your observations.

The due date for posting your initial comments is Friday, May 15. Please post your observations inside this Chicano Park mural discussion forum. I will provide the first discussion post, and all of you please follow my example. After you post your comments, please be sure to reply to at least two of your classmates, and to me as well before Tuesday, May 26. As for choosing the specific mural you wish to discuss, here are several websites as well as the 1988 documentary devoted to the Chicano Park murals for reference. This is the documentary film that we will watch during the third module of the semester.

Once you select the mural, you wish to discuss, please notify me no later than Tuesday, May 12 at 5PM. I will keep a list of all the murals and their artists inside the forum, as well as the individuals in the class that have selected the murals. Only one person per mural please. Once a mural has been highlighted in yellow, that means it is closed to the rest of the class. The various Chicano Park artists have created nearly 70 murals, thus there are plenty of options for everyone. Your forum comments (including your replies to your classmates and to “el maestro”) will count as 15% of your overall class grade.

In terms of the content of your discussion, I am looking for three main points of discussion. This discussion will satisfy the History Department’s Student Learning Outcome (SLO) assessment requirements. First, you will draft a thesis statement based on your observation of this mural. A thesis statement is something you would prove in a paper; a statement that can be supported by the mural you have reviewed. Your thesis statement should be about 5-6 sentences. In your thesis statement, address the following question: What was the artist’s objective in creating his/her mural and what does the mural reflect about the era in which this mural was created?

For the second point of discussion, name and describe one cause or consequence of an event associated with this mural. In other words, what were some of the historical or political events of the era that contributed to the development of the mural, or what do you think was the political or cultural impact of the mural in Chicano Park, San Diego, the state of California, or for the overall Chicano Movement? About one good-sized paragraph, up to ⅔ of a page, double-spaced, will be sufficient for your response.

And finally, for your third point of discussion, describe one historical individual involved in the event depicted in the mural and explain his or her significance in this event. In other words, why was this person significant? And by a historical individual, you may discuss the artist instead of any historical personalities presented in his or her mural. However, if there is a clear historical personality presented in the mural, I strongly encourage you to discuss that personality in your response. Even if the historical personality is a mythical figure, such as a god or goddess, you can discuss that too. About one good-sized paragraph, up to ⅔ of a page, double-spaced, will be sufficient for your response.

Below is a nearly-complete list of the murals at the park, including the title, artists, and the year of the mural’s creation. Once you notify me of the mural you wish to analyze, I will write your name next to the name of the mural. Any mural that’s highlighted in yellow means that an individual from the class (including el maestro) has selected the mural and as a result, it is closed for further discussion:

the topic is “San Diego Lowrider Council Mural” (1978) by San Diego Lowrider Council

an example of a TEMPLE to follow

  • Mural: “Tribute to Allende” (1973) by Smiley Benavides

  • thesis statement based on your observation of this mural: In his mural “Tribute to Allende,” Smiley Benavides is illustrating that the military forces unleashed against the supporters of the Allende regime in Chile are a metaphor for the political oppression facing Chicanos in the United States during the early 1970s. Benavides is demonstrating that the Chicano fight for justice is comparable to the Chileans’ support for Allende’s “Popular Unity” platform of justice, equality, labor rights, quality education, etc. Furthermore, by depicting the Chilean military in dark, austere monochrome tones, Benavides makes the analogy that forces of conformity and conservatism of those opposed to Allende are equivalent to that of the Nixon Administration and its disdain toward those in support of civil rights and those opposed to the Vietnam War.

  • one cause or consequence of an event associated with this mural: Following the ouster of the Allende government on September 11, 1973 (that’s right, Chile had its own 9-11), General Augusto Pinochet oversaw the installation of a brutal military government that lasted until 1990, when democracy returned to country. But in that 17-year dictatorship, the Pinochet regime in a brutal campaign of terror against alleged “subversives” and “radicals,” including students, social workers, doctors, artists, and musicians, such as legendary folk singer Victor Jara, who was executed by security forces at the National Stadium in Santiago. Pinochet was convinced he had to protect “la patria” from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and because Pinochet was committed to fighting Communism, he earned much praise from US presidents through the 1980s. Although Pinochet did usher in an era of economic expansion in the country in the rest of 1970s, popular agitation began to emerge during the early 1980s, and as the Cold War was winding down by the end of the decade, Pinochet was becoming more and more isolated, and after a 1988 “plebiscite” in which Chileans voted to end the regime, Pinochet finally ceded power in 1990. But the brutal legacy of Pinochet’s regime still lingers today, and it’s a reminder of just how governments, including constitutional republics, will go to great lengths to exterminate its own citizens just for the sake of preserving its power structure.

  • one historical individual involved in this event and explain his or her significance in this event: The deceased figure in the mural represents Salvador Allende, the Chilean president who died in the violent coup against him on September 11, 1973. Nobody knows for sure if he took his own life or was murdered by military forces that stormed the presidential palace. Allende was the candidate of the Unidad Popular (“Popular Unity”) party during the 1970, defeating two other candidates in a three-way race. The UP coalition was made of various left-leaning groups, including Socialists and Communists, which angered the Nixon Administration. Nixon was so incensed that he vowed to “smash that son-of-a-bitch Allende.” But for the people who supported Allende, he represented their aspirations of overcoming the legacy of colonialism that had permeated Latin America since the days of the Spaniards. For its supporters, the UP promoted improved social security and public health, an improved and expanded housing sector, gender equality, and the extension of the right to organize unions. Therefore, Allende became a hero to many Chicano activists, who felt that their own aspirations were the mirror image of what UP supporters were fighting for. Unfortunately, Allende could not contain many of the internal struggles within the UP coalition, let alone pressures from the Chilean armed forces, conservative forces, and the Nixon Administration. And as Benavides indicates in his mural, the death of Allende is symbolic of the dashed hopes and dreams of many in the Chicano movement during the mid-1970s. But in modern times, Allende is still viewed as a martyr, as someone who fought for the interests for the common people, but paid the ultimate price for his beliefs

  • Photo of mural or weblink:
    Tribute to Allende mural

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