I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate in United States history at the University of California, Irvine. My interests include Chicana/o Latina/o History, Public History, Sports History, Urban Planning, Race and Ethnicity, and exploring how scholars can engage their academic work with communities of color.
My dissertation, “Sol y Sombra: San Bernardino’s Mexican Community, 1900-1960”, documents the city of San Bernardino’s Mexican American people and their quest for civil rights. Citrus and Santa Fe railroad workers, as well as Mexican middle class business owners, organized defense committees, baseball teams, mutualistas, and within the local the Catholic Church, to counter discrimination. My research also explores popular race-based conceptions of juvenile delinquency and their use to uphold the segregation of public parks and pools. I showcase the Mitla Café, one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in the United States, as a centerpiece of community life that reveals the untold history of a prosperous Mexican business community along Route 66.
I also explore how postwar urban renewal projects, such as the development of the U.S. 395 freeway, contributed to the decline of this vital Mexican business district. Moreover, Mitla Café customer Glenn Bell’s appropriation of the restaurant’s popular Cal-Mex cuisine for his “Taco Bell” fast food empire also played a role in the fragmentation of this community. This study demonstrates San Bernardino as an important contested space for furthering our understanding of the Mexican American experience during the twentieth century. My work has been featured on National Public Radio and NBC. I will be completing my dissertation during my stay as a UC MEXUS scholar in residence.