Cande showed me the power of art
I met Candelario Mendoza in 2003, shortly after he had retired from Pomona Unified School District as a member of the PUSD School Board, a Principal, and teacher – who had a school that he taught at named after him. I knew of his long history as an educator and an advocate for the arts in schools through my wife, a PUSD teacher at the time, and her speaking of Mr. Mendoza’s efforts to keep the music programs intact in the face of phasing the arts out of the elementary schools.
During his tenure at PUSD not only did the music programs remain, they expanded. This for me was enough of a feat to have Mr. Mendoza recognized as a major contributor to the betterment of Pomona. However, It wasn’t until I read Matt Garcia’s book ”A World of Its Own,” that I learned that this gentle soft-spoken man was an intercultural trailblazer in the 1950’s when he was a deejay on KPMO, and hosted and emceed the first Latina/o dance concerts at Pomona’s Rainbow Gardens Club. The concerts became the first multiracial events for the youth of the Pomona Valley as well as Eastside SoCal.