On Telling the Whole Story
The job of a historical society is to keep history for its community, all of it. The Pomona Valley has been the home of a multi-ethnic community since the day the Vejars and the Palomares stepped into the valley. Indigenous peoples, Mexicans, Spaniards, Europeans, African Americans, Asians, Muslims, and more have made their lives here, raised their families, and worked hard. All of them contributed to the growth of this city. All of them are our history.
It is easy to talk about the "good old days," but have we done ourselves a disservice when we don't remember the unfairness, the cruelty, the poverty? History is supposed to teach us so that we don't repeat the mistakes of the past. While we want to commemorate the beautiful parts of history, we must look unblinkingly at the parts that weren't good. As citizens of Pomona, we cannot change the past, but we can change the future. We can use our history to learn how to treat everyone fairly. As we move forward, the Historical Society of Pomona Valley will do its best to provide all of you a clear-eyed view of our history to do just that.
Pomona has a long history of civic engagement and even protest. Here, parents and students are picketing outside of Pomona Unified School District in 1962. Without more research we cannot yet say exactly what happened here, but reports are that a Vice Principal at a PUSD school had shown prejudice toward African American students.
The citrus industry was a key part of the Pomona Valley economy for decades, but we often hear little about the workers who actually made the industry run, like this 1936 packinghouse worker grading fruit. (Image Courtesy of Pomona Public Library.)
Pictured here in 1917 only a few years before his death, Jose Antonio Perez was a critical but often overlooked part of Pomona history. He worked as a foreman for Louis Phillips and was an integral part of the Phillips Ranch's success.
Mer Yum Vin Chung (pictured here in 1893) operated a laundry and a dry goods store when Pomona had a Chinatown north of Main Street. We will share more information about this in a subsequent post, but Chinese Pomonans were forced to leave Pomona due to racial harassment.