A storytelling project by Boyle Heights Beat

Read and listen to the ‘Voices/Voces’ stories:

Elizabeth Ginsburg recalls her years in the Jewish neighborhood known as Boyle Heights

The retired teacher has written about early activism at Roosevelt High School and about the bond that unites former students

Undated photo of former Boyle Heights resident Elizabeht Ginsburg. Photo courtesy of Ginsburg family.

“Berkeley was a melting pot the same way Boyle Heights was… It was a very political place to be and there were many things happening. It was during World War II. And there was a lot of Russian War Relief going on at the time in Boyle Heights. They had a big stand for Russian war relief on the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Soto Street, which was one of the main connections in Boyle Heights. And in Berkeley, they were raising funds also for Russian war relief. There was a great sense of fighting the Nazis and supporting the Russians at that time.” 

María Elena Ceja lives to volunteer, share the better side of Boyle Heights

The catechism teacher and lifelong resident wants people to know good things come out of the neighborhood

I like to see young women interested in knowing about their culture, about life in Boyle Heights, that not everything is bad. Because sometimes a lot of people only see the bad but don’t see the good. I like to see the positive. I hear people [in the news] talking about Boyle Heights, and I say, if they only interviewed the people who get ahead.

Carlos Montes: A bridge crosser and an activist, not a leader

The longtime Boyle Heights residents talks about his youth in the Chicano Movement and his current involvement in multiple causes

“It was exhilarating. It was awesome. It was exciting. You know that “Wow, it’s happening.” We couldn’t… you know… I’d never seen thousands of people march out like that, especially young Chicanos, right. And they always said “Oh Chicanos will never do it,” you know. Back then they used to call us the sleeping giant, you know, that we were not going to ever do anything. But then I realized in our history, we’ve always protested, we’ve always walked out and did strikes.”

From organizer to student athlete and TV host: a life of influence for Jaime Cruz

The chair of the National Chicano Moratorium Committee was once a familiar face on local public access

“[My father] was a Navy frogman. He was supportive of me opposing the war. And he was supportive of me refusing to be inducted. Because he understood that the war in Vietnam was an unjust war, and broke from many conservative groups. He was a member of the LA County Democratic Central Committee for several years. But he was supportive as my mother was. The issue of being an American was in a different context at that time. AsI said, he opposed the war in Vietnam he… and supported my position.”

Art that celebrates ‘cultura’: what inspires Jim O’Balles

The independent curator and Boyle Heights resident talks about what led him to appreciate and promote the work of artists

“I grew up with men who will fight. If you get drafted, they want you to go to  war. You can’t say no, you can’t run away. So I went in [to Vietnam.] I had nothing against the Vietnamese people. In fact, I was educated or smart enough to know that we were on the wrong side. [The] Vietnam War was probably one of the few wars United States lost, and I happened to be there. It kind of messed up my plans for my life, but you have to deal with it. It changed me, but I figured things out.”

Boyle Heights is not what it used to be, according to Ernestina López Muñoz

When I got here… there were no problems like we have now in 2021. For me, Boyle Heights has been corrupted.

Watch and listen here:

YouTube video

Guillermo Morales: proud to serve the best elotes in Boyle Heights

Popular food vendor says he enjoys preparing his specialties to the delight of his loyal customers

“What I like the most is when people come to Memo’s Munchies to get the Hot Cheetos elote or the Takis elote, that’s what I like the most. When I prepare that, I enjoy it, I enjoy seeing that my customers leave with a smile.”

Listen here:

Eloísa Venable Is happy she chose Boyle Heights to retire

The former circus artist and caretaker says her Linda Vista home is the best place she’s ever live

“I love Boyle Heights. I’ve been living all over the place in Los Angeles, but for the first time in my life I feel safe. And it’s amazing, because everybody talks bad about here.”

Listen here:

How Rubén Guevara became a Chicano Culture Sculptor

The writer, musician and performer recalls his life in activism and the trip to Mexico that changed his life

“I decided to make my art, protest art in a sense, so all of my things have been protesting except for the Jets. The time with The Jets that was mostly party music. It wasn’t too serious. The only political aspect of that was that it was mostly Chicano band from East LA that got national recognition.”

Listen here:

Music has been a lifelong passion for Joseph Torres

The longtime Boyle Heights residents recalls growing up in the 1960s as a Beatles fan

“I see more pride in Boyle Heights [now], I see shops and stores that sell things that glorify Boyle Heights, and like t-shirts and sweatshirts and pins and a lot of stuff. And we’re getting more recognition now.”

Listen here:

Voices/Voces aims to connect youth reporters with Boyle Heights and East LA elders.  Voices/Voces was a 2020 finalist in (and partially funded by) the LA2050 Grants Challenge. It is also partially funded by the Snap Foundation.