LA's Mexican American Cultural Center Connects Children With a Past They May Have Never Known

Across from bustling Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles are two historic buildings you've probably driven or walked by many times.

LA's Mexican American museum and cultural center La Plaza de Cultura y Artes opened six years ago -- an infant in museum terms. While their budget prevents them from advertising, popularity is blossoming from word of mouth. The center and museum is connecting children with a past they might not have otherwise known.

"As a Mexicano or Latino you go to a movie and you don't see yourself you might be entertained, but think why wasn't I a part of that? Here, you're completely embraced by your culture," curator Abelardo de la Pena said.

He shares exactly what many Mexican Americans have often felt in silence: a disconnection with our identity.

"Well the thing is because in history books they don't really focus too much on Mexican-American history contributions and culture. Many children don't learn it until they come here … and they see it and hear it first hand."

Just outside the museum is an organic garden -- yes, in downtown LA -- with vegetables, herbs and grains of our ancestors.

The children can also connect with the Mexican-American heritage through food, learning about the recipes handed down from their ancestors.

"For them, it's an aha moment where they start to discover things they heard about, but they really haven't made connections," museum instructor Armando Rodriguez said. 

Until now.

"It's important because then they get to empower their minds, their bodies, their souls and if they do that, they can empower their communities," he added.

The museum and cultural center is free throughout the year.

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