'A La Esperanza' mural's 40th anniversary celebrated in Pilsen

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A celebration Monday marked the 40th anniversary of the 'Cuarenta anos a la Esparanza' mural, which means '40 Years to Hope,' in the city's Pilsen neighborhood.

The mural depicts the fight to open Benito Juarez Community Academy four decades ago.

The Juarez High School Drumline performed in the plaza outside the school to celebrate the restored mural, which commemorates the struggles and inspiration of the school's history.

Juarez High School opened in 1977 after a school walkout, boycotts and years of protest.

"It started as a fight for a high school for our children in their neighborhood," said Teresa Fraga, parent.

Fraga was one of the parents in the 1970s who, unhappy with the high dropout rate of Latino students and lack of quality education opens, turned their frustration into action.

"As a local school we continued to have that voice that carried, and that's how the Board of Education approved the mural," she said.

The mural was rededicated Monday, with one of the original artists present.

"I think five years ago this was almost in ruin, and here we are today," said Malu Ortega, muralist. "It makes me very happy that we are being recognized.

The mural remains a lasting reminder of the fight for change and a new generation with the academic tools they need to succeed.
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