Lectures and Workshops

Guerrilla Archives and Storytelling: Preservation of Community and Personal Histories in a Hostile Time Session 3

Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 6:30–8:00 p.m.

The Autry in Griffith Park

Free With Reservation
Reservations Required

About the Event

Session Three: It Started with a Song (Tim Hernandez–Archive of Manuela Garcia)

In this workshop series created by Raina J. León, we learn from the visionary practices of guerrilla archivists and community organizers who preserve community histories for the benefit of future generations. From an intensive investigation of the past’s materials, we will use writing as a bridge of time and possibility. Source examples include archival resources (Assistance League of Los Angeles) from the Autry and the study of writing from Reginald Dwayne Betts, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Tim Hernandez, and Layli Long Soldier. Workshops can be taken as a cohesive series or as individual sessions, and thanks to the generous donations of Autry supporters, we are able to offer them for free. 

“The most extraordinary achievement has been that of Miss Manuela C. Garcia, of Los Angeles, who has sung the records of no less than 140 songs, with full words! Few can do that in any language, from sheer memory.”
Charles Fletcher Lummis, “Catching our Archaeology Alive,” Outwest Magazine, volume 22, 1905
Within one song, lives can be held as Tim Hernandez shows us in All They Will Call You, a collection of poems written in response to the worst airplane disaster in California’s history, one that claimed the lives of thirty-two travelers, twenty-eight of whom were Mexican citizens in the process of being deported. Their deaths inspired a small newspaper article, which ultimately inspired Woody Guthrie to write a poem and later song that became one of the most important protest songs of the 20th century. In this workshop, we explore the work of Manuela C. García and her recollection of 140 recorded songs, which preserve whole community histories, loves and pains within them. Together we will study the work of Hernandez and García to create a framework for invoking one lullaby or other song that cradles our spirits; we will write and dare to remember.

About Raina J. León

An Afro-Boricua, native Philadelphian, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator, she believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, and sombra: (dis)locate (2016) and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge (2016) and Areyto to Atabey:  Essays on the mother(ing) self in the Afro-Boricua (2019).  She has received numerous fellowships and residencies and is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She is a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California.