Author and historian, Crystal Jackson, delivers an authentic and compelling account of one town’s epic journey through American history. Since our nation’s birth, Pacoima has been a microcosm of America’s social development and evolution.
Once called Pacoinga, it was sacred Indian land until Spanish colonization in the late 18th century. From the Mission era and genocide of the area’s natives, into becoming among the country’s first suburban minority communities, this town’s diverse cultural history is unlike any other. Jackson’s powerful book peels back this historic town’s jaw-dropping layers to expose provocative racial threads that bind American history.
As some in America strived to contain and diminish people of color, time after time, Pacoima broke free and flew to unimaginable heights. Over that past 150 years, its unique divergence of cultures, including Native, Latino, Black, Japanese, and White, has defied all odds. The town’s remarkable history reveals irrefutable stories that redefine the social development of America’s minority populace.
Jackson has spent five years researching the town and interviewed dozens of current and former residents. US Congressman Tony Cárdenas, US Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Calif. Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, are among the many people raised in Pacoima that Jackson interviewed for the book. She interviewed 90-year-old residents, Indian chiefs, Mexican migrants, families of Japanese internment camp survivors, and civil rights leaders who vividly described the town’s growth and evolution. Despite the stolen Indian land, treatment as second-class citizens, forced imprisonment, civil rights violations, and a crack epidemic that nearly destroyed the town, Pacoima has risen to make a significant impact on the country and even the world.
Ritchie Valens, Heisman Trophy winner Charles White, Danny Trejo, World Boxing Champ Bobby Chacon, and Grammy winner Andráe Crouch all grew up in the small town of Pacoima. Their triumphant tales are just a few of the fascinating stories. The nation’s first public charter school, the world’s largest earth-filled dam, and the nation’s #1 ranked high school football team, are all part of this historic town’s past. Story after story is awe-inspiring with rare vintage photos.
Johnny Carson once made Pacoima a punch-line, taking potshots during his routine, as he perpetuated the negative hype. This book unleashes a town that many never knew existed. From its earliest inhabitants to its modern-day presence, the entrance to Pacoima’s incredible story is now open.