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Benjamin Franklin High School

Highland Park was, from the very beginning, a forward-looking community when it came to education. Benjamin Franklin High School was founded in 1916, originally on the campus of Monte Vista Elementary School. The Arroyo Seco Branch library had already opened around the corner in 1913, and the following year saw the opening of the Southwest Museum. Throw in Occidental College and Free Methodist Seminary, and you have an area thick with institutions of leaning.

At the time of its founding, the school served the area's suburbanites; a quick look at yearbooks from the 1910s reveals a student population that was predominately white. Interestingly, the school's first club was the Spanish Club, perhaps bringing awareness to the area's early settlers. But it remained that the student body included only a sprinkling of minorities, mostly Asians and Latinos, as was the case even when future Chicano Movement activist Rosalío Muñoz attended Franklin High in the early '60s. After a trip to Mexico with his father, Muñoz felt an awakening of ethnic identity, taking to wearing a sombrero around campus. He became the first Latino student to be elected as student body president.

Franklin High students in campus courtyard, 1968
Franklin High students in campus courtyard, 1968

 

1966
Former Franklin High student Ricardo Muñoz describes the demographic shifts of the student body

 

Student Body Politics
Rosalío Muñoz talk about his involvement with the Chicano Movement and how he became Franklin High's first Chicano student body president.

 

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