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Remembering La Yarda

Kansas has a history of the presence and contributions of Spanish speaking peoples. The city of Lawrence has La Yarda, a vanished community of Mexican American railroad workers and their families. Araceli Masterson-Algar, Associate Professor of Latinx Studies at Kansas University, spoke about La Yarda and the continuing quest of Mexican Americans to be accepted and appreciated in America. La Yarda was located in east Lawrence between the railroad tracks and the Kansas River. Families lived in a single room in a multi-unit wooden structure. There were no city services or improvements and a shared water pump was the only source of water. Residents made the best of their situation by sharing a sense of community. They also cultivated gardens and children played where they could. Residents experienced discrimination in the school system and in other public settings, like the local swimming pool. In 1951 a flood destroyed the community and it was not rebuilt.

Currently there are numerous efforts to document and honor the history of La Garda. Masterson-Algar also spoke of the larger impact of Spanish and Mexican American culture. She provided numerous examples of the problem of continuing discrimination in our country. Masterson-Algar earned her doctorate at the University of Arizona and her research work is on human mobility, urban culture, social movements and migrant communities.