Regeneración

Chicano youths in Los Angeles experienced displacement issues in the city's urban overgrowth embedded with social, political, and economic injustices. Some found a new identity and an outlet to voice their frustrations in punk rock music. Neither feeling American or Mexican, they felt the music spoke to the soul of the Chicano community, appealing to their dual cultural identities. There had been bands in the 1970s and 1980s that sparked rebellion within the Latino youth community, notably The Bratz, Los Illegals and the Plugz, but few survived the recording industry's marketing restrictions, limiting the Chicano punk scene to not much more than local clubs and house parties.

Socially conscious Latino-led bands like Ozomatli, Aztlan Underground, Blues Experiment, Ollin, and Slowrider boomed throughout the Northeast corridor in the 1990s. But one would galvanize contemporary cultural politics with art in Highland Park - Rage Against the Machine, led by vocalist Zack de la Rocha.

Flyer announcing In the Red, "An Observance of Human Rights," held at Regeneracion in February 25, 1995. Image courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Mesmerized crowd at In the Red at Regeneracion, 1995. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña, known for addressing border, race and gender issues. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Mario Jimenez (vocals), Mark Fraser (guitar) and Davey Latter (drums) of Stanford Prison Experiment. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Yeska with David Urquidi (left) and Ulises Bella (right) on sax. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.

De la Rocha grew up between Lincoln Heights, his original home, and Irvine after his parents divorced. His grandfather, an agricultural laborer in the United States, was a Sinaloan revolutionary who fought in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. His father Roberto "Beto" de la Rocha was a member of the artist collective Los Four as an active Chicano artist/muralist in the 1970s. Zack de la Rocha founded the Public Resource Center/Centro de Regeneración in Highland Park in the 1990s. The name is derived from the anarchist journal that served as the voice of the Mexican Liberal Party in the early 1900s.

Regeneración encompassed a library of political literature, featuring artwork by local artist and co-founder Aida Salazar. With this space de la Rocha sought to inform and create an on-going mobilization of the working poor, avoiding the accumulated social frustration that limited political action during presidential elections. It was a space where art, community, and politics merged in Highland Park, just as art collectives had done a generation before, but with an invested interest in global politics.

In 1994 the Zapatistas, a revolutionary leftist group based in Chiapas, Mexico, declared war against the Mexican state and brought attention to their cause on the then-emerginng platform of the internet. De la Rocha, inspired and re-politicized, joined their efforts, using his celebrity to fundraise for the Zapatistas through Regeneración.

The Street Phantom's style would later be used on the cover of Rage Against the Machine's Battle of Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Graffiti by the Street Phantom inside of Raul Baltazar's space. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Tom Morello performs with Rage Against the Machine. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
In the Red was a benefit for the Nationl Commission for Democracy in Mexico's L.A. Chapter, Caravan to Chiapas Mexico, and Ejercito Zapatista de la Liberacion Nacional. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
A performance piece by Raul Baltazar (left), Joe Galarza (middle) and Gene Johnson commenting on capitalization and patriarchy as they demolish televisions. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Artists Joe Galarza and Angel Miranda. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz of Pocho Magazine. His comic <i>La Cucaracha</i> was the first nationally syndicated Latino daily comic strip. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Celebrataed Chicana poet Linda Gamboa. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Photographer Shawn Mortenson, speaking to the photos he took of the Zapatistas. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Watts Prophets, poet-musicians formed in 1967, forerunners of contemporary hip hop, performing at Regeneracion in 1995. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Aztlan Underground, formed in 1989, fused contemporary hip hop with indegenous instruments such as drums, flutes and rattles. Photo courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
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