Board of Directors
Melissa Arechiga is a Los Angeles native-born to the Arechiga family. In Chicana/o Studies you will find her family in the chapter’s true blue to a time before the Dodgers. The Mexican American communities were known as Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop. Today The Battle of Chavez Ravine is the political term used to describe their history in Los Angeles. Melissa is the personification and radical root that blossomed by connecting her history to higher education. She graduated from the University of California Berkeley, with double majors, and is establishing herself as a community activist. She has a fervent desire to empower, advocate and give back to the community. Strong-willed and persistent, her goal is to connect, grow and develop leaders with other women of color in the community. Her foreseeable future is limitless as she continues to pursue education through Law School. She hopes to collect and contribute to the strong brown history of Los Angeles and Los Arechiga's.
Jeannie Arechiga was born to Juan and Nellie Arechiga in 1955. Juan is the son of Manuel and Abrana Arechiga. She was born in Glendale, California and raised in Los Angeles, California; specifically in Palo Verde.
She would reside in her family home at 1771 Maliva until May 9th,1959. On this day, her home was violently destroyed, and the entire Arechiga family was illegally and forcibly removed to make way for the boys in blue.
Jeannie Arechiga was one of the few children photographed on that day. One can witness her trauma when viewing these photos, as she and her family are seen being carried out by law enforcement, immediately displaced from her beloved home.
Following the removal, Jeannie Arechiga was placed in a police car with her aunt Lola. Jeannie’s aunt Lola can be seen in the iconic picture of the police dragging her out of her home by all fours. This experience left a lasting impression on Jeannie’s young mind and continues to affect her mental health and well being.
She attended Elysian Heights Elementary school located in Echo Park. A young Jeannie recalls fond childhood memories of her kindergarten teacher Mrs. Ito (mother to Judge Lance Ito; the presiding judge over the OJ trial). She later attained Belmont High and finished high school at San Gabriel Adult School. She then went on to community college, enrolling at Pasadena City College with a major in telecommunications. Jeannie had aspirations to attend UC Berkeley.
Instead she became a mother again, growing her family and obtaining employment as an RTD bus driver in the infamous 1990's. She also drove for Metro and LAUSD. In 2009 she retired to take care of her father, Juan Arechiga, until he finally transitioned.
Currently, she works closely with her eldest daughter, Melissa Arechiga, to preserve their family history. Jeannie serves as a direct source of information verses all the secondary sources that exist; most of which spout incorrect information about their family and the three communities PaloVerde, La Loma and Bishop #NotChavezRavine.
Jeannie and her daughter, along with the village they’ve built, are seeking justice and accountability for the generational wealth stolen from the Arechiga family and the three wrongfully destroyed communities of Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop #NotChavezRavine by the Dodgers corporation and the city of Los Angeles. Their work is currently fueled by more than their history, as the current state of the city is facing a "housing crisis” under a global pandemic.
The US Census recently declared Brown Indigenous People as the majority, yet far too often we still hear US history from a strictly Black and White perspective.
By discussing the harsh realities of displacement and the effects it has on the people who experience removals, Jeannie Arechiga hopes the sharing of her story and life experiences will help communities learn how to preserve themselves from institutional, systematic racism. By understanding, and teaching, personal and communal rights, and teaching what resources exist, Jeannie hopes to create a brighter future for the next 7 generations, and leave a strong legacy of resistance through education for all to learn from.
Vincent Montalvo was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Living in Echo Park for over 30 years as an active community member, the barrio is home. According to what has been said and written by white Anglos, Echo Park was one of the roughest and toughest barrios in Los Angeles. Despite this at a young age Montalvo knew his community had more good than bad to offer. However, the barrio stories have always been told and written from the gringo/outsider perspective and not from the Latino/community residents. Montalvo family has a long history in Echo Park and Palo Verde. For those who don’t know where Palo Verde is, baseball fans walk over it every time they attend a Dodger’s baseball game. His grandmother, grandfather, and mother were all born and raised in the barrio of Palo Verde. Today, Palo Verde is one of the barrios buried under Dodger Stadium. Growing up by his mother’s side, Montalvo learned what it meant to be active in his community. He learned by his mother’s example what it meant to invest in his community. She was heavily involved in the PTA and all school functions. He grew excelled and was elevated in his desire to empower his community when he met Juanita Dellomes. She was one of the most passionate community activists in Echo Park. She was taking on many of the larger issues that affected the barrio city wide. He met Juanita Dellomes when he was 14 years old and their fight and work continues for the barrios. At 15 years old, they started the Youth Fishing Club “Los Tiburones” which was sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Game. “Los Tiburones” lasted more than 12 years. The program served many children in Latino/neighborhoods to introduce them to the world of sport fishing, one of his favorite pastimes. They also took on the issues of gentrification and many of the other issues that plague barrios of color. His family’s history in Mexico, Palo Verde, and Echo Park are one of the most important parts of his foundation. For this reason, he stands against injustice and oppression. What happened to the three barrios of Palo Verde, Bishop, and La Loma continues to happen in all the barrios of color today. From the lack of understanding of culture and history (which for him one of the greatest riches), Montalvo is a firm believer that people have to know who they are, where they came from so they have a clear understanding of where they are going in the future. He asks that everyone questions and researches before they accept anything to be true, especially when it comes to Latino/a history. Montalvo believes that only unity will set the people free.