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Saturday, September 24, 2016

A cup of café perks up East L.A. political activism

Photo by C.J. Salgado

By C.J. Salgado

For 26 years, Ana Maria Arroyo has lived in East L.A near Obregon Park. After twenty of those years, she wanted to make a difference so she founded the “Club Comunitario de Padres,” a group which brings local families together to work on issues that matter to them. For example, she felt people should know their elected representatives and be able to talk to them easily. So, on Saturday she coordinated the first “el café comunitario” meeting at Obregon Park, the first in series of such events.

It was coffee in East L.A. with State Senator Ed Hernandez, 24th District, as the first invited guest speaker. Thanks to her, attendees, mostly Spanish-speaking, got the chance to have an informal, close conversation with the new Senator over coffee and pan dulce. The topics of discussion were many from jobs to gangs, but a big theme was education, from how to improve the educational attainment of students in East L.A. to student internships being offered by the Senator’s office.

Senator Hernandez stated how important education was for Latinos and that those who graduated from college needed to “return” to their hometown to give back and inspire more of the next generation. Speaking Spanish, Arroyo could be seen prompting attendees to get up from their chairs to go introduce themselves to the senator, “para que la gente conozca a los lideres politicos.”

No doubt, true leadership can spring up in the unlikeliest of times and places, even in a park in East L.A over  a cup of Joe.



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  1. It’s nice to read a story about someone working to improve the neighborhood in this way. There are so many complainers on the comments here, we should all take a lead from Ana Maria and take action where we can. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Thank you Ana Maria for the invitation to the meeting. I attended the meeting and was very happy with the discussions at hand. I believe most attendees would agree when I say the meeting was up close and at a personal level. There were no pointing fingers or putting blame on anyone, just trying to figure out solutions not add to the problems. Thank you Senator Ed Hernandez for your time in listening to all who attended.

  3. I am more interested in knowing about the results of the 26 years of these informal meetings in which there was social participation over cups of coffee. Activism in any disadvantaged communit (ies) can be created by having objectives (results) met and a set timeframe. Can you discuss some of the action(s) and results that have been met over the years? Real examples please.

  4. This kind of meeting sounds great… but unfortunately a huge majority of the community probably never knew about it. I live across the street from Obregon Park and never knew about this. It’s always nice to hear about efforts to bring the community together and try to bring solutions to the area’s problems … but unfortunately, word never gets out about these events.

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