21st Annual Juneteenth Celebration
History of California
Don Pio Pico
Pío de Jesus Pico, 1801-1894, was the last governor of Mexican California. The name Pico has become a familiar Southern California place name, from busy Pico Boulevard, the City of Pico Rivera, and the Pico House. His name has been commercialized in several businesses, from corner grocery stores, shopping malls and dry cleaners. Despite this veneration in our present public memory, much of what we know about Pico remains clouded in myth. In a lifetime that spanned 93 years under the flags of Spain, Mexico and the United States, his rise from humble beginnings to the highest office in the state places him among the most remarkable figures in California history.
Pico spent most of his adult life in Los Angeles where he helped to transform a remote pueblo into a major world metropolis. After a brief stint as governor in 1831, he became administrator of Mission San Luis Rey. In 1834 he married María Ignacia Alvarado, a member of a respected Los Angeles family. In 1845, he led a popular coup against Governor Micheltorena, resulting in his rise to the governorship, a post that lasted until the arrival of invading United States forces in 1846.
Pío de Jesus Pico, soldier, businessman, ranchero, governor and citizen, his legacy will live on for generations to come.
The discovery of Beckworth's Pass enabled many settlers to come to California through the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Not only did Europeans go west, but a number of wagon trains headed by former slaves also brought out newly freed people of African descent to the west coast.
Jerger Okokudek a buffalo soldier was stationed at Fort Ord, CA. Halliburton. He was also a Zulu Prince. He was assigned to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay in the late 1800s. He served with distinction and was remembered for his galantry, riding ability and having a close bond with his fellow soldiers.
Mary Ellen Pleasant
Called "the Mother of Civil Rights in California" from work begun in the 1860s, her achievements went unsurpassed until the 1960s. Pleasant was once the most talked-about woman in San Francisco. When other African Americans were rarely mentioned, she claimed full-page articles in the press. Her dramatic life was part of the story of slavery, abolition,
the gold rush, and the Civil War; she helped shape early San Francisco, and covertly amassed a joint fortune once assessed at $30,000,000! Americans today deserve to know her because she could love across boundaries of race and class without losing sight of her goal -- equality for herself and her people.
Early Settlers in San Diego as children
Early family in San Francisco