Museum helps student connect to meaningful job!

The Museum is excited to share Idania’s experience. Please read her article below. 


Last spring, I completed a historical research and writing capstone course in public history at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA).  Dr. Mark Wild, our professor, announced at the beginning of the quarter that CSULA began an official partnership with the Museum of Social Justice (MSJ) to give students the opportunity of hands on experience in the field of public history. The course then, sought to cultivate an appreciation not only for bringing history to the public but also in allowing communities to share their histories.  The MSJ has positioned itself well in this endeavor, engaging individuals with diverse histories in the heart of historic Los Angeles.  Board members have dedicated themselves to promoting the good deeds of the church and continuing its longstanding commitment to social justice.  Through my coursework, I had the unique opportunity to witness the development of this museum and speak with board members as they laid its foundations at La Plaza United Methodist Church.

On the morning of April 20, 2013, as Olvera Street vendors opened for business and the gradual influx of people mingled throughout the plaza, our class awaited a behind the scenes peek at the MSJ.  Leonora Barron, Keith Rice and Greg Ramirez greeted us with a short history of Los Angeles and La Plaza United Methodist Church.  In particular, the board members spoke at length on La Plaza Church’s history of community engagement and social justice and the importance of that history to current goals and aspirations for the museum, as well as their own struggle to maintain possession of the century old church.  Following the discussion, a few of us remained to speak with the three board members individually.

During our discussion, I learned more about the museum’s goals and commitment to students as well as the community.  The museum maintains a strong commitment to its goal of social justice and to students by creating awareness of social issues.  Students also benefit from developing social justice oriented projects and finding employment.  I was fortunate to have been suggested for employment at the Institute for Arts and Media (IAM) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).  At that point, I had been accepted to CSUN for my Master’s in history, pursuing studies in United States and Latin American histories, primarily focused on twentieth century Guatemala.  This was of course a great opportunity, especially since the IAM was recently awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, to digitize and make available online, thousands of photographs taken by African American photographers in post WWII Los Angeles.

Currently, I am identifying subjects and events, and digitizing images taken by photographer Harry Adams.  I am happy to be a part of historical preservation at the IAM where the Museum of Social Justice houses its photographic collection.  Through educational partnerships in the local community, like with CSULA, the Museum of Social Justice provides students opportunities as I had to gain hands on, professional experiences where academic theories learned in the classroom can be applied in the real world.  In addition to building students’ repertoire of professional skills, the museum expands their contacts and connection to the community.  Such partnerships challenge students not only to realize the historical struggle for justice in Los Angeles but also to make a commitment of support for social justice to the world.


Idania Sosa October 7, 2013

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