Tourism For Locals: El Tecolote Bridges English and Spanish Speakers in San Francisco

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Juan De Anda/SF Weekly
Providing more than 40 years of advocacy journalism.

Print will never die. Yes, our profession is changing, but journalism is a public good that will forever be a staple and advocate for communities.

And while we are no strangers to the turning pages of time of the journalism industry, this week's Tourism for Locals highlights one paper that -- for the past 44 years -- has been a vanguard for the San Francisco's Latino community and continues to thrives.

That publication is El Tecolote and its office is in the heart of the Mission District.

El Tecolote (Spanish for owl) is a Spanish/English bilingual newspaper and website that covers the news, issues, and people of the Latino population in San Francisco's Mission District and nearby neighborhoods of Excelsior, Bernal Heights, and parts of the East Bay.

The newspaper began in 1970 as a project in a La Raza Studies class at San Francisco State University, a project created by Professor Juan Gonzalez, who wanted to channel more Latinos into journalism. In the 1970s, Latinos and other people of color were virtually invisible in major newsrooms.

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Accion Latina
Cesar Chavez reading a copy of El Tecolote

At the time, the Chicano Civil Rights movements was in full force with figures like Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Oscar Zeta Acosta, and Rubén Salazar making headlines for the better treatment and acceptance of the rapidly-burgeoning Latino population in the United States. And El Tecolote wanted to write those headlines and stories from the point of view of the residents themselves.

The newspaper left the classroom setting after its inaugural year in 1971, and became part of the community, where it has been ever since. This is the longest running English/Spanish newspaper California: 44 strong, and consistent, years.

The free publication is managed by Acción Latina, a nonprofit organization promoting "cultural arts, community media, and civic engagement as a way of building healthy and empowered Latino communities," according to its mission statement.

The organization is also responsible for other projects like El Encuentro del Canto Popular and Fuerza Joven (an annual Latino music festival and a youth journalism program).

In the year 2000, Acción Latina purchased the building it currently operates from, right in the center of the Mission District at 2958 24th St. The headquarters are open to the general public Monday through Friday.

One of our favorite things to browse through are the archives, which house thousands of photographs, audio clips, and artwork from the community. Acción Latina's archives are truly an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to truly understand the ever growing, and ever shifting, Latino community of San Francisco.

And when visiting, don't forget to pick up a copy of their newest issue, hot off the presses every Wednesday.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF, Juan at @JuanPDeAnda, and like us on Facebook

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