Sleepy Lagoon, The Zoot Suit Riots And The Lonely Grave In East L.A. That History Has Forgotten

by John Russel Jones

Jose Diaz’s grave lies in an elevated section of Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, with views of the 60 Freeway and the Metro Gold Line. From here, you can see a good section of the Eastside.

What you can’t sense from here is how Diaz’s death profoundly changed L.A. His final resting place is one of thousands of long-forgotten tombs in one of the city’s oldest cemeteries. He deserves so much more…..

The local press — including this paper — demonized Mexican youths as inherently violent and un-American, especially because of the big coats, bigger pants and large hairstyles they wore in the face of wartime rationing. Less than a year later, this racist stew devolved into the so-called Zoot Suit riots, at which white servicemen assaulted Mexicans in and around downtown L.A. and Boyle Heights while law enforcement largely looked on and the media cheered. Read more at L.A. Times