The founders of California did a deliberate act on Oct. 13, 1849.

This is when they signed the Constitution of the State of California.

Ho-hum, right?

Not really.

It was unlike any other state constitution.

That’s because there were two original signed copies — one in English and one in Spanish.

The 1849 California Constitution included Article XI, Section 21 that stated, “All laws, decrees, regulations, and provisions, which from their nature require publication, shall be published in English and Spanish.”

Article XI, Section 21 was dropped during the California Constitutional Convention of 1878-1879 conducted in Sacramento.

The original state constitution being in English and Spanish was not an attempt at wokeness as some might describe such action today.

Nor was the subsequent removal of the language requiring government documents to be published in two  languages based on racism although no one can argue racism didn’t exist in 1879 just as you can’t argue it doesn’t exist today.

It was done a bid to increase government efficiency  and the fact English had emerged as the primary language of commerce.

Why it matters is simple.

Ignoring our history means we forget who we are.

Spain — definitely part of Europe — was the driving force that led to the creation of modern-day Mexico.

Mexico, just like the United States, is the sum total of cultures, ethnicities, races, and civilizations coming together whether it was through evolution or violent acts of revolution.

It was revolution that created the United States of America and revolution that created the United Mexican States, the official name of Mexico.

What we enjoy today in California is the result of evolution.

Yet, there are endless examples of how we manage to ignore the lessons of  history —  unwittingly or by design – to degenerate people we share common bonds.


A classic example was an all-American event in September of 2018.

Santa Ana High traveled to Aliso Niguel High to play football on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. The two Southern California schools are 17 miles from each other.

Those from Santa Ana High weren’t exactly overwhelmed by the reception they got. They were greeted with signs such as “Build the Wall” as well as “We Love White.” 

The Aliso Niguel High principal acknowledged signs students posted that were inappropriate for a high school football game such as “Trump 2000”, “Bring Back Obama”, and “We’re going to Trump you”. Administrators that saw the signs immediately took them down.  As for the “We Love White” signs they were mixed with signs that read “We Love Red” and “We Love Blue”.

The theme Aliso Niguel High students chose for the game was “Red, White & Blue” in a nod to Patriots Day that marks the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

And to top it off, every time Aliso Niguel scored their students chanted “USA! USA!”.

One would be hard pressed to comprehend the thought process of teens at times especially given they have a tendency to overdue sophomoric humor and to act before they think.

The “USA” chant was seen as a cheap shot by the visitors given Santa Ana High has a significantly higher concentration of Hispanic students with a number of them being Dreamers or undocumented children brought to this country by their parents. Most, however, were Americans with some going back generations. Who knows, maybe even as far back as Oct. 13, 1849.

What made the entire incident bizarre were the names gracing the sports uniforms and school paraphernalia of both high schools — Santa Ana and Aliso Niguel.

The high schools are next door to Los Angeles as well as being near San Diego and San Bernardino. They are part of California whose state capital is in Sacramento, which is the name of one of its two largest rivers with the other being the San Joaquin River. The first state capital, by the way, was in Monterey before being moved to San Jose, Vallejo, and Benicia before ending up in Sacramento.

They live in California where you will find the soaring Sierra and the cosmopolitan San Francisco.

Have you noticed a pattern? There are a heck of a lot of cities and landmarks in California that have Spanish names.

This did not happen by accident. California and a large swath of what is today the southwest United States was a colony of Spain from 1769 to 1821. After Mexico scored its independence from Spain, California was a Mexican territory from 1821 to 1848. The Mexican-American War that started in 1846 and ended in 1848 forced Mexico to give up California. Before the Gold Rush kicked into high gear, California as a fledging United States territory had a predominately Hispanic — read that — Mexican population. In the early days of statehood that’s why official documents were printed in both English and Spanish.

Nothing is more bizarre than a Californian mocking Californians for being Californians.

Yes, there is a difference between legal and undocumented Californians whether the undocumented are from Hong Kong, Mexico, Thailand, Europe, Colombia, Vietnam, Central America, or wherever.

It may not have been intentional, but blanket taunts or innuendoes against what was and is now California’s largest ethnic group is way off base. There is a huge difference between nationality and ethnicity. To equate them as one in the same threatens to send us down the same rabbit hole that the Old World created whether it was in Europe, Asia, or Africa.

Judging people by their names or skin tone is an exercise in futility and stupidity.

One of the first negative encounters I had after being elected to the Western Placer Unified school board in 1975 was with a new resident to Lincoln who had moved from Orange County.

We were standing outside Glen Edwards School and he was on a rant that didn’t want “those people” teaching his kids. I was at a loss until he pointed across the street where Nick Martinez was working in his yard as the guy launched into an all-encompassing tirade about welfare and affirmative action giving “them” an unfair advantage.

Nick had a nice house. He drove an Oldsmobile 88. He worked at McClellan Air Force Base. He also got shot at while wearing the uniform of this country in World War II. The same was true of his father but that was back in World War I.

During the course of our conversation the man who moved to Lincoln from Orange County shared he had moved to Southern California from Ohio during the aerospace boom in the 1960s. His family migrated to this country in the 1920s some 45 years after Martinez’s family settled in Lincoln. 

I’m a fifth generation Californian dating back to 1846 on my mother’s side of the family when this state was still part of Mexico. It shouldn’t matter where you or your ancestors are from if you live here and follow the laws. If you are undocumented and have been working and not engaging in felonious behavior, a path to citizenship should be made available to you and you should take it if you wish to stay in this country.

And if you are among those who feel free to paint everyone with a broad brush the next time you’re stuck in traffic on the Santa Ana Freeway in Los Angeles you might want to ponder what’s in a name.

Dennis Wyatt