A message from the Little Manila Board of Directors:
If you’ve ever been to our Little Manila Center in Downtown Stockton, you’d know that we have beautiful recreations of our historic banners surrounding the Little Manila Historic Site on our windows.
It is with a heavy heart to tell you that on Monday, someone defaced our windows and ripped our historic photographs that bore the words: Community, Culture, Empowerment, Arts, History, and Heritage. The first people to find our center in the condition it was in were our youth dance students who stood heartbroken in front of our center.
As we celebrate Filipino American History Month this October, we know that discrimination against Filipino Americans is nothing new. The street our Little Manila Center is on is Main St. in downtown Stockton which was the dividing line for people of color in this city in the 1920s and 1930s. People of color were not welcomed north of Main St. and signs saying “Positively no Filipinos allowed” were displayed openly. It was illegal for Filipino men to marry White women in California. Later on, state and local officials would decide to destroy the Little Manila and Chinatown neighborhood by the building of the Crosstown Freeway.
This event has reminded us about the importance of the work we do. Through the Little Manila After School Program and Us History program we teach ethnic studies to high schoolers. Our advocacy helped Stockton Unified School District to adopt Ethnic Studies at our high schools just this year. Our Little Manila Dance Collective and Kulintang Academy teaches the art and culture of the Philippines to new generations of young people seeking identity and a sense of belonging to our roots.
Little Manila was destroyed in the 1960s and 1970s by misguided policies. Our advocacy for the preservation of the Little Manila Historic Site is a result of the worst case scenarios of racist federal, state, and local public policies that prioritized freeway construction, urban redevelopment, and suburbanization over our communities.
Little Manila Foundation and our Little Manila Center will continue to be a space for understanding and love, bringing together diverse communities. This incident only strengthens our resolve and reaffirms the work that we are already doing.
Note: The vinyl artwork in our storefront that was destroyed was designed by Joseph Racca and manufactured and installed by Eddie Avelar of Bahala Na Martial Arts in Houston and Frank Mendoza of Bahala Na Martial Arts in Stockton. It was through their generosity that allowed us to make Downtown Stockton a little more beautiful. We promise to get the art reinstalled some time soon.