Luis Genaro Garcia Continues the Legacy of the East LA Walkouts With New Print
Luis Genaro Garcia was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles to a working-class Mexican family. He attended Jefferson High School where he received his high school diploma, attended Santa Monica College, then acquired his Bachelor’s degree in Arts Education from Cal State LA, advanced on to receive a Master’s in Public Art from the University of Southern California, and finally earned his Ph.D. in education from Claremont Graduate University. He, like many others in similar circumstances, saw the importance of higher education to escape the harsh realities faced by residents of less affluent urban neighborhoods.
He places the importance of education within the context of his ancestors; the black and brown people who have paved the way for future generations to succeed. In Coatlicue’s Legacy, his featured print at Self Help Graphics & Art’s Print Fair Exhibition (on view through August 3rd), he juxtaposes Coatlicue, the earth goddess, against a Los Angeles Times article about the 1968 East LA walkouts. “Although I wasn’t born in '68, I think that event and particular moment played an important role in the educational trajectories of students of color,” said Garcia.
Luis fights back against the demonization of the students who protested by removing the 'Policeman Injured' from the newspaper headline to include only 'Student Disorders Erupt at 4 High Schools,' to place more prominence on the power it took for students to fight against the oppression they faced, also noting that a lot of the original footage showed police assaulting students. Their fight for education is something he holds in high regard. “I would not be where I am today, without their bravery,” said Genaro Garcia. In this print, he also highlights the importance of women in the movement, as their voices were often omitted from the narrative and places Coatlicue in the forefront of the print to represent the women, because as Garcia says, “they are always the ones leading.”
Today, Genaro continues to champion the importance of education in South Central Los Angeles as a dedicated art teacher at his alma mater, Jefferson High School (one of the four high schools that participated in walkouts in 1968) and urges his students to look back at their own lives, share their own narratives and never stop fighting for justice.
Giani Chavez is a Self Help Graphics & Art Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern from Grinnell College.