After a stirring speech by labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, L.A. City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the installation of a monument to Mexican American traquero workers in Venice.
This vote marks many months of hard work from community volunteers to establish a monument celebrating the often unacknowledged history and contributions of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles.
The bronze sculpture was designed by Mexican artist Jorge Marin and depicts a traquero worker standing proudly on a railroad track holding hands with his family.
Traquero workers labored hard from the 1870s to the 1930s to build critical transportation infrastructure across California, receiving little wages in return. The monument will be placed at Windward Circle in Venice, giving recognition to these laborers and their descendants who still live in the local community.
“This is so important because we have to honor the working people of our country, who are often ignored, disrespected and forgotten,” said Huerta. “For the people whose grandfathers and great grandfathers worked on the railroads, it really gives them a sense of dignity.”
Huerta has dedicated her life to uplifting the American working class and improving conditions for women and children. She co-founded the United Farm Workers Association and was a prominent activist in the Chicano civil rights movement.
At the age of 89, Huerta continues to tirelessly advocate for the working poor and people of color. She strongly supports the installation of the monument and the honor it gives to the Mexican American community.
The initiative to create this monument was spearheaded by Venice resident and community organizer Laura Ceballos. She was inspired by the success of the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument, which was installed in 2017, and felt compelled to ensure Venice’s Mexican American community was also recognized.
CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin has put his full support behind the initiative and spoke passionately about the project during Wednesday’s meeting.
“For the past several years this nation has been offering thoughtful and sometimes controversial discussion about monuments that need to come down,” said Bonin. “It is equally important that we find the time to build monuments to those we honor, and on the Westside, where the nature of the community has changed due to gentrification over the past several decades, it is vitally important that we remember and celebrate our history.”
City Council has now instructed the Bureau of Engineering to report with recommendations for installing the monument, which will be the next step in moving the project forward.