Who says the public doesn't like history? On Wednesday night at the Fullerton Public Library, I moderated a seminar on the life of Alex Bernal, the brave Fullerton man who stood against his racist, litigious white neighbors that wanted him out of their neighborhood on account of his Mexican heritage, a case that profoundly influenced American civil rights. On the panel were three of Bernal's children--Maria Theresa and Irene, the young girls pictured at right, and son Joseph--and Luis C. Fernandez, the Cal State Fullerton alum who rediscovered the case.
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The evening began dramatically, with an airing of an episode of March of Time (the old Time radio serial) that reenacted the Bernal case; the eight-minute episode hadn't been re-aired since originally broadcast in 1943, and not even Bernal's children had heard the episode until Monday, when Joseph was finally able to locate a copy at the Library of Congress. For the next hour, I asked questions of the Bernals and Fernandez, to introduce the case and its important to the public, which sat silent and spellbound throughout the evening--but you don't have to take my word for it. Longtime OCTA spokesman Ted Nguyen was in attendance in his regular role as a human, and wrote about it on his personal blog.
After some questions, people stuck around for a good hour, seeing the historical displays that the Bernals created for their father and also the posters of the Orange County Mexican-American Historical Society, which co-sponsored the event along with the Fullerton Public Library and the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at Cal State Fullerton (where I lecture). Great time had by all 250+ of us!