SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A new exhibit in San Francisco focuses on lowrider art and how a lifestyle once considered criminal activity became a catalyst for positive social change for the Latino community.

“I was arrested 113 times during that period,” said Roberto Hernandez, a lifelong lowrider and activist who has curated the exhibit. His experience inspired him to form the Lowrider Council of San Francisco to fight police crackdowns on lowriders which he saw as being excessive and motivated by racial bias.

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“Here in the Mission, we were not white; we were brown young men and women who were doing something that was not part of society,” he recalled.

The council collected evidence, hired lawyers, and sued the city in federal court and
won, which led to police reforms, and a greater acceptance of lowrider culture.

“I felt proud to be brown and cruising down the street in my lowrider from then until this day. It’s just a great feeling,” Hernandez said.

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Today, lowriding lives on and four decades later has become accepted by the society that once rejected it.

“Lowriders are in music videos, movies, commercials. We’ve been invited be a part of the 50th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. We get invited to all these social gatherings that I would have never imagined being invited to,” he continued.

The exhibit at the Mission Cultural Center showcases the unique art and culture created by Latinos
through the lowrider movement. It signifies to Roberto that the battles were worth it.

“There is a level of appreciation, love and most importantly respect for the culture of Latinos and lowriding.”

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The exhibit runs through September 27th at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco.