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Alvarado (Blanca) Papers
MSS.2014.07.21  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, administrative papers, photographs, awards, and other memorabilia that document the political and personal life of Blanca Alvarado during the years she served on the San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Background
Blanca Alvarado was born in 1931 in the small mining town of Cokedale, Colorado. Her interest in activism is rooted in her time as a youth observing her father’s participation in the coal miners union in Cokedale. Following the closure of the coal mine where Blanca’s father worked, her family of 14 moved to California and began working in the fields of Santa Clara. During this time Blanca attended San Jose High School and began her pursuit of community activism in Santa Clara and San Jose. As a high schooler, Blanca was a member of Club Tapatío and participated in community service through the club. Blanca then became acquainted with local radio host and activist, Jose J. Alvarado. Jose hosted the first Spanish-English bilingual radio show in Northern California at the KLOK radio station and used his platform to speak to his Latino listeners about social justice and other issues concerning the Latino community in the Bay Area. Blanca eventually hosted her own bilingual radio talk show addressing similar topics at KLOK called “Merienda Musical.” Activism continued to be a significant part of Blanca’s life and provided the foundations for her political career. She worked with Cesar Chavez on the organization and foundation of the Community Services Organization. Blanca worked on the Chicano Employment Committee and the Opportunities Industrial Center. In the mid-1970s, she worked with Viva Carter in efforts to promote Jimmy Carter and his campaign for the presidency. Blanca was also the president of the San Jose chapter as well as an officer at the state level of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA). Blanca became well known as an activist and an advocate for her community. In 1980, Blanca was elected to be the first representative of District 5 in the San Jose City Council. She remained the representative for East San Jose until 1994. As a City Council member, Blanca fought for equal representation for the Chicano community in San Jose. She had numerous projects and focuses in this office. Major projects and central issues from her time in City Council include the revival of the Poco Way neighborhood, the installment of the Quetzalcoatl statue in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, the creation of the Mexican-American Community Services Agency (MACSA) Youth Center, arts, housing, and youth issues. During her time in City Council, she also worked to establish the Mexican Heritage Plaza and Corporation. Nine years into her career in City Council, Blanca became the first Latina Vice Mayor in San Jose and continued to serve two terms. In 1995, Blanca was appointed to take the vacant seat in the Board of Supervisors left by Zoe Lofgren and was elected to this position in 1996. Blanca spent the next 12 years as the representative for District 2, which is composed of Downtown San Jose, South San Jose, East San Jose, and parts of Willow Glen and Evergreen. In this office, Blanca continued her efforts to foster the arts in San Jose, advocate for youth and minorities, and fight for other social and environmental justice issues. Blanca retired from the Board of Supervisors in 2008.
Extent
10 boxes (11 linear feet)
Restrictions
Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jose State University Library Special Collections and Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Special Collections and Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
Availability
Collection is open for research.