By Luis J. Rodriguez
The music from the stage at the Pacoima City Hall in June pulled a small crowd onto a makeshift seating area during the “Celebrating Words” Festival, sponsored by Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore—the only annual outdoor literacy & arts festival in the San Fernando Valley.
Las Bandidas, a group of women donning “Charo” garb, danced and sang in the “banda” style popular in Mexico and many parts of the United States. That stage also held an alternative rock band, a Cumbia band, Son Jarocho performers, Hip Hop, spoken word performers, poets, and much more. There were also vendor booths of artists, artisans and community service organizations. Temachtia Quetzalcoatl, Tia Chucha’s resident Mexika danza group (so-called Aztec dancers) opened up the event.
Books were sold and you could take a photo with book titles honoring Chicano/a writers like Sandra Cisneros and Rudy Anaya. A special section for children brought many families. At various times during the day perhaps some 800 to 1,000 people came by.
The languages spoken, performed or sung included English, Spanish, and in some cases Nahuatl (the large native language of Mexico and parts of Central America). While predominantly Mexican and Central American, we had performers and participants from the African American, Asian, Armenian, and white communities.
I read poetry that day in my role as L.A.’s poet laureate and also to promote the city’s Big Read program and this year’s selection, “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea. I’m also cofounder of Tia Chucha’s and “Celebrating Words.”
There was no violence, no fights, no disrespect in a community often known for poverty and crime. There was nothing but good music, powerful words, dance, literature, and exploding culture. Read Rest of Article Here