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Distorting El Monte's Past and Present

September 05, 2004

Re "In El Monte, Two Sides to the Past -- Close Yet Far," Aug. 30: Olga Gutierrez states that "Anglo Americans created a segregated society, with separate schools and housing." Zeke Minaya's article discusses Mexican American children who attended "schools less well-funded than those across town," and Ernie Gutierrez says that he and other children who grew up in El Monte's Hick's Camp "got set back."

I beg to differ. I grew up a few blocks from the edge of Hick's Camp. If Gutierrez lived in Hick's Camp, he attended the same schools that I and my brothers and sister did. I am shocked to learn that I and my siblings had such deficient educations.

That the conditions in Hick's Camp were tolerated for half a century is beyond doubt a disgrace. That many Mexican Americans were treated like second-class citizens in El Monte is also true, and also disgraceful.

It is, however, also true that El Monte's Mexican American children and its Anglo American children received the same education, in the same classrooms, at the same schools, with the same materials. In both ethnic groups, some grew up to succeed. Others did not.

Segregated education, planned or de facto, did not exist at that time, in that place. Thus, it could not have been a factor on either side of that picture.

Jeri Jennings



Your report on the El Monte Historical Society and La Historia Society of El Monte is a classic case of pushing an agenda through the distorting prism of history.

There is no doubt that there were injustices in the past, but to charge people today with indifference ignores the efforts of Donna Crippen, the historical society's curator, in helping the Mexican American group get organized, including providing it with a meeting place in its early days. The tone of the article unnecessarily tries to create hard feelings where they do not exist and is even contradicted by a quote from Crippen: "I would love to have them here

It's up to the El Monte City Council to make a unified museum come about.

Robert L. Sharp

South Pasadena

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