A Mission leader credited with helping to place some 40,000 Latino and immigrant community members in jobs will be honored at this Saturday’s 20th Street Block Party– a free, day-long neighborhood party expected to draw some 15,000 revelers to the 20th Street Corridor.
The building that houses the Mission Language and Vocational School at 2929 19th St. will be named after its founder, education and immigrant right activist Rosario Anaya, during a fundraiser hosted outside of the school and in conjunction with the music, food and art festival.
Anaya died in August 2015, leaving behind a legacy in the community that includes providing thousands of immigrants and non-native English speakers with access to the vocational and language skills needed to enter the local workforce.
Noise Pop, the Mission-based music promoter behind the block party, has for the first time partnered with the vocational school to honor Anaya. The newly formed alliance is also a way to encourage party-goers to help the school raise awareness about the local community’s needs and the necessary funds to expand its workforce development programs.
“One woman created an entire Latino middle class in the Mission over some two-and-a-half decades,” said Daniel Brajkovich, the school’s current director. On Saturday, the building will be adorned with a plaque “commemorating [Anaya’s] tremendous influence, not just in this neighborhood, but throughout the city.”
The new partnership will also make this year’s block party the biggest yet. Traditionally spanning three blocks between Harrison and Bryant streets on 20th Street, the festival will be expanded to include a three-block section on the 19th Street Corridor where the vocational school is located.
On that corridor, Brajkovich said the school will curate a stage with performances by local bands such as the Bay Area Cumbia and reggae group La Gente, and will host tables that give space to community organizations. The building naming ceremony will take place during a fundraising brunch starting at 11 a.m. on the street and sidewalk outside of the school.
Tickets to the brunch can still be purchased through the school’s website, and Brajkovich hopes that the Noise Pop partnership will help the school reach a wider audience willing to support and contribute to the community it serves.
As gentrification has uprooted much of the Mission community at the heart of Anaya’s life’s work, Brajkovich said that remembering her decades-long fight for equity and opportunity for the under-privileged is critical.
“People come to this neighborhood for the diversity and to be part of the continuing Latino character of the Mission that now makes it cool and chic,” said Brajkovich. “But the equity and value is built on the backs of generations of renters and some homeowners that have now been displaced.”
With the help of the block party’s organizers, he hopes to foster a sense of community among the neighborhood’s newcomers and long-time residents alike, while ensuring that local institutions also benefit from the massive neighborhood party.
“We want a seat at the table,” said Brajkovich, adding that the partnership could serve as a “greater model for community re-investment.”
“Looking at the Mission’s new demographics and who’s at the 20th street block party, we felt that there is no reason the families and businesses that are in this neighborhood now can’t be a part of what MLVS does and help us,” he said.
Dawson Ludwig, manager of Noise Pop, echoed this sentiment. The festival’s ultimate goal, he said, is to bridge the “progress made in the city” with the traditions and values of local communities.
“This is our love letter to this neighborhood,” said Ludwig. “We are sensitive to the role that we play in the community, and this partnership gives us a chance to be more connected to it.”
The Mission Language and Vocational School brunch fundraiser and building naming ceremony will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 20. Tickets ($150) are available for purchase here. The annual block party will kick off shortly afterwards, from noon to 6 p.m. and is free to the public.