“Someone who knows us deep in their heart. Somebody that has part of our blood.”
Concepcion Nino, founder of El Campito Child Development Center, relentlessly confronted the persistent discrimination she faced throughout her life. She first learned about discrimination as a young girl working in her family’s tortilla business. She observed that “I used to deliver the tortillas to the restaurant, and they were always telling me to go through the kitchen.” One day, “I asked them why. Then they told me, because I was a Mexican... so I got real mad and I threw the tortillas to the restaurant owner. We had a fight there – the tortilla war.” From this she learned about “the daily life of Mexicans.” Instead of sitting back and accepting this daily life as her fate, Concepcion became an outspoken advocate and community leader for all Hispanics.
She is most commonly remembered for founding El Campito, which she was inspired to develop while living in Texas and working in the fields: “What I didn’t like was that some children were in the field eating tomatoes with dirt and their mothers were working. The children had to be there… I was always thinking maybe some day I could do something for those children.” Once settled in South Bend she put the desire into action by starting to watch children of migrant workers in her home before moving the operations to United Methodist Church and eventually to its current location on Thomas Street. Parents chose the name El Campito “because these children came from the migrant fields and there was a little camp, a little space for them.” Concepcion continued to work actively at El Campito and develop it as a bilingual, bicultural center until 1989.
- Founder, El Campito Child Development Center
- Common Council Commendation as a Caring
- and Concerned Community Leader
- Midwest Council of LaRaza Appreciation Award
- Mexican American Concerned Citizen Award
- Governor’s Award
- Hispanic Leadership Award
- Certificate of Recognition, South Bend Community School Corporation
- South Bend Hall of Fame
- Member, LULAC
- Member, United Mexican Americans
- Member, Mexican American Council
Information compiled from various South Bend Tribune articles and oral history collected by Julie Leninger, “Chicanos in South Bend: Some Historical Narratives.”