“What is Colonia? Virtually everyone in Oxnard must know where it is, but only those who live there know just what it is.” —Don Martin, Oxnard Press-Courier, July 1963
Mark your calendars: On July 8, 2019, award-winning blogger and one of the “Margos” of the popular podcast “Book Vs. Movie,” Margo Porras releases her debut book GROWING UP IN LA COLONIA – a collective memoir of the barrio of La Colonia, located on the outskirts of Oxnard, California.
Positioned on a half square mile of land that’s separated from the rest of Oxnard by railroad tracks, La Colonia is home to the people who keep an agricultural empire running. In decades past, milpas of corn and squash grew in tiny front yards, kids played in the dusty alleys, and neighbors ran tortillerias out of their homes. It was the place to get the best raspadas on Earth. As one Colonia native put it, "We may not have had what the other kids had, but we were just as rich.”
La Colonia has a deserved place in America’s history. It was a childhood home to Cesar Chavez and one of the final campaign stops of Robert Kennedy, who prayed with residents in their cinderblock church just eight days before he was assassinated. Throughout its history, La Colonia has overcome segregation, poverty and discrimination. In the voices of its people, the author shares the challenges and triumphs of growing up in this treasured place. “Both my mother and late father were born in La Colonia,” Margo Porras explained. “My parents’ experiences, though never directly quoted, were present in the memories of everyone interviewed for this book. When Ofelia Rodgriguez recalled being sprayed with agricultural pesticides while playing with her classmates on the playground of her elementary school, I knew my dad was among them. It was easy to convince my mother to help me bring these stories to the general public for the first time.”
After reading GROWING UP IN LA COLONIA, you won’t be able to taste a strawberry without remembering the compelling story of the people who picked it. It's a story that began long before California became part of the United States and continues to flavor the lives and families of every person who has lived in La Colonia.