Activism at age 5


My first project as an activist began in kindergarten. The Great American Boycott (MAY DAY) happened up the street from my house – suddenly this wash of marchers in white t-shirts came up Wilshire Boulevard – I saw it from my Dad’s shoulders. It was like a wave….

I asked my parents what was happening. They told me that people were marching peacefully to say that they wanted to see changes in the way things were for them, their families, and their children.  I wanted to know more about my neighbors from Mexico, South and Central South America.
At the ripe age of 5, I decided to interview people in my neighborhood who had emigrated to Los Angeles in their lifetime.  I wanted to know what their stories were, and they were happy to talk to me and my mom.
Here are their stories: 


Coffee House owner, Olvera Street

I was born in the city of Los Angeles,at the Los Angeles Hopspital which doesn’t exist anymore.

My father came from Guadalajara in the 1920s.  They lived in a hacienda.  My grandfather was an accountant estate for ranches during the Revolution.  He knew he had to protect what he knew he to protect what we knew. He became at exporter.

My father became a citizen in Italy in the back of a truck  in WW 2; FDR gave him his citizenship because he fought for the U.S. – this is how we became a U.S. citizen, so it’s ironic when people say all Mexicans came here illegally or jumped the border guard.  That isn’t always the case.

What is unique and exciting about my community is that we are the majority now. I have confronted racism and ignorance and heard people say “Go back to Mexico” and my response to that would be that if you’re saying that, you need to do your homework and know the history of this area – because clearly—if you’re saying that, you don’t!

I don’t agree with the “Chicano” movement; I didn’t relate to it because they proclaim peace but the way they go about it, to me, isn’t working.

I have never been to my parents home in Guadalajara. I grew up in San Marino, CA.

Chonchita and me
Conchita and I


waiter, Olvera Street

My name is Santiago. I am a waiter in Olvera Street.
and I came from Mexico City. Our house was adobe with Spanish Tile. I was here since 1986.

My favorite food is mole. I come from the mountains, like here.I was 17 hours walking here. I was alone, no amigos.
People must understand there is always a very good reason we would need to walk 17 hours, leaving our families behind to come to a strange place and take any job we can. We don’t wake up and decide this. If we want to help our families, this is the sacrifice.

I like the quality of life here, it’s better I miss my family the most.

Santiago and I

I have no family here.



clerk in store downtown.

I was born in Sinaloa, the village is called Los Mochis.  We moved here when I was 6 years old. . In Sinaloa, a train track was close to my house and the street was dirt and rocks.

The education here was why my parents moved us. We moved for the economy and for us to have a better life.

We all came together across the border. I remember running a lot in Tijuana. One time we almost died. There were rats and my brother got bit. But we made it here and we were so happy.

My culture is conservative; other cultures are more liberal.

My favorite food from where I grew up were the mangoes.

Gladys and I




My name is Miguel. I came from Juanajuato. The sierras are green and a lot of water, the earth has much rain.

The economy is difficult, my family didn’t have shoes. The house was made of adobe with blocks – red color, hard ot make money.
There was no work. We starved a lot.
For 18 hours I walked to Rumorosa. It was difficult. Ten years ago. At times I worked and times I didn’t work. I was alone coming here, no friends. Now here I have a little friends.

Miguel and I

My favorite food is Posole – mas fresca in Juanajuato. I like California. I am glad to be here. I miss my mother. She cries for me to come home, but she knows I can earn better wages here and it will help. I just want to help my family.



 I never got the name of this Man

unnamed (5)

Although, I wish i had.


I am so grateful to have met these hardworking people and learn about them. I wish them all the best! Its been a decade since i have seen them!


Posted by Lily Larsen

I am a 17-year-old​ activist/arts advocate and have been participating in marches, protests and petitions since I was 5 years old. I serve on Mayor Garcetti's Youth Council for South LA. And have generated a petition to ban factory farming in California with over 55,000 signatures. I organize community events and get teens like me connected with social justice issues and activism all over LA.

One thought on “Activism at age 5”

  1. This is so inspiring Lily doing all of this Social Justice at only 5!

    Amazing Job.

    I hope to find more people like you in this world.

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