Over the span of a year, Denver Community Planning and Development engaged community and local historians in a first-of-its-kind initiative to uncover and share the rich history of Denver’s Mexican American, Chicano, and Latino communities. Denver Landmark Preservation has released the findings from this project, which includes ¡Qué Viva la Raza! Honoring a Denver Legacy, an ‘I Am Denver’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaYx-AZ4AqE) documentary from the Denver Office of Storytelling.
“Denver is a city with a diverse and rich cultural history. We often hear from residents who worry about losing Denver’s authenticity. Projects like this are how we honor our heritage and protect the historic places of our Latino, Chicano, and Mexican-American communities. I’m proud of our city planners for spearheading this work and I look forward to the meaningful ways this historic context will guide our preservation and neighborhood planning efforts for years to come,” said Laura E. Aldrete, Executive Director of Community Planning and Development.
Over the course of this project, members of Denver’s Mexican American, Chicano, and Latino communities shared their oral histories, experiences, and perspectives with city staff and partners, which are reflected in the ¡Qué Viva la Raza! documentary and final project report. More than 300 people shared compelling stories and worked to identify significant places across Denver that are part of this vibrant heritage. This study, report and film are the first step for greater inclusivity in city preservation practices and are not meant to be an exhaustive history of these communities and cultures. Rather, this work is a foundation that will guide future landmark preservation efforts as well as related city planning initiatives for strong and authentic neighborhoods.
“We have long known that the contributions of Chicano and Latino communities in Denver have been underrecognized despite knowing the depth and breadth of struggle, success, and champions that have helped build and improve our city,” said Jamie Torres, Councilwoman for District 3. “This Latino/Chicano Historic Context Study has established a foundation for us to build on and for us to act on. Our histories are powerful and inspirational. I’m proud to have been a part of this effort.”
“As a Latina Denver City Councilwoman, I am proud to have had the opportunity to work on such an important project for the Latino/Chicano community in Denver,” said Amanda P. Sandoval, Councilwoman for District 1. “This is a milestone not only for this project but for the people of Denver, past, present, and future. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who shared their stories so that future generations can have a fuller understanding of the rich, diverse history of this city. I know I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, and I hope this document helps tell their stories and creates a plan to help preserve and honor the rich Latino/Chicano history Denver has.”
“Denver’s history is incomplete without more than a century and a half of contributions from Mexicano, Chicano and Latino peoples,” said Rowena Alegría, Chief Storyteller of Denver. “It takes the entire community to change that narrative and ensure the past is represented and future planning and policies include those historically left out. This report and the I Am Denver film mark an important step in the right direction.”
The full report, executive summaries, an interactive StoryMap online exhibit, and the full documentary, ¡Qué Viva la Raza! Honoring a Denver Legacy, are available to view on Denver Community Planning and Development’s project website here.
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