Lowrider Firsts

Originally written by Estella Inda.

On December 15, 2018, the San Jose Public Library - California Room opened its first ever lowrider exhibit, Story and King: San Jose's Lowrider Culture. With lowrider jams played by DJ Queso, the vibe was not only educational, but nostalgic.

Over 200 people joined the library that day, sharing stories of cruising and introducing their history to the younger generation. The common sentiment expressed was that it's about time San Jose is put on the map for its contributions to lowrider history, including Lowrider Magazine, first published locally by Sonny Madrid.

In light of lowriding's importance to the history of San Jose, it was imperative that the library document and preserve this history.

Lowrider Panel

On January 15, 2019 the San Jose Public Library held it's first lowrider panel event, titled "Out of the Past: San Jose's Lowrider History". Panelist Biney Ruiz (5 Star Productions) spoke of the different lowrider events that she hosted. Panelists Jesus Flores and Daniel Martinez spoke about lowrider culture and their experiences.

Panelist Joey Flores, founder of Cisco Kid, a War tribute band, discussed his uncles Sonny Madrid (founder of Lowrider Magazine) and Rudy Madrid (leader of the band Rudy and the Cruisers). Panelist Hector Montenegro, a former Lincoln High School teacher, shared stories of lowriding and activism.

Over 300 people attended the panel event. For those that were not able to attend, video can be viewed on the San Jose Public Library's Facebook page. (View Video Part 1) (View Video Part 2)

Lowrider Culture And Society

In an era of social and political turmoil, lowriding emerged both as an artistic style and a statement of resistance. Cesar Chavez, himself a lowrider in his early years, acknowledged lowriders as an important force in Mexican American activism. Lowriding played a part in the Latino civil rights battles of the 1960s and 70s, with police crackdowns at the famous intersection of Story and King making headline news. Today, lowriders are known not just for their art, but as forces for good in their communities, hosting car shows, concerts, community barbeques and charity events, and beautifying the streets with their firme rides.

The second panel event occurs this Saturday, February 16, 2019 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Room 225 from 3:00 - 5:00 pm.

This panel event will feature:

Lowrider Media Coverage

The exhibit has received extensive media coverage. First, Xavier The X-Man visited the exhibit to create a promotional video.

Then Sal Pizarro wrote an article titled "San Jose's lowrider history finally gets the spotlight: New exhibit puts lowrider culture on display at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Library".

Most recently, the Metro Silicon Valley wrote an article featuring the exhibit and some of the panelists from the different events.

With all this positive feedback, this is definitely a first that we'll think about repeating!