My semester of protest for César Chávez

EL PASO — The spring 2011 semester at the University of Texas at El Paso is one that should live on in the hearts and minds of the people who experienced it, for their entire lives. It began with a simple exclamation by the president of the Student Government. César Chávez Day would no longer be celebrated on this campus in order to better facilitate the Campus’ schedule. This led to a series of student protests that culminated with Pete Duarte, CEO of Thomason Hospital and former director of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, returning his Golden Nugget alumni award to protest the holiday’s loss. As this semester rolled along, I had many opportunities to explore the significance of César Chávez Day.

18 years after his death, Cesar Chavez still battles in the Texas Legislature

EL PASO – The after-effects of UTEP’s decision to preserve César Chávez Day as a holiday still continue to be felt both across the campus and frontiers beyond. The decision, which was officially passed on February 8th, ensures that the holiday, held in honor of the Mexican-American champion of fair labor, will be celebrated by the students this year, despite the fact the campus will remain open to faculty and staff. The decision comes as a result of a massive organizational effort by the UTEP student body, and is considered a decisive victory by its supporters. Yet very few people outside the campus might be aware of the enormous impact this decision makes in this state’s political arena. The reason César Chávez Day was originally threatened with cancellation was due to a proposed decision by the state of Texas to re-define and eliminate the basic elements of the holiday.

Richard Yanez Celebrates the Sun City with his Writing

EL PASO – Cross over Water, the latest novel by Richard Yanez, captures the essence of the wayward El Pasoan – always feeling out of place outside of his home city and yet striving to achieve more than the city has to offer. “We’re survivors, resilient and proud in spite of our flaws.” Yanez spoke of El Pasoans. “You know El Pasoans because they are both glad they’re out but sad that they haven’t yet been back.”

Yanez, an El Paso native, uses this novel to bring the local creative writing landscape a tale of a young man named Raul who grows along the border, lives among relatives, loves women, and takes to his heart the sensations only this city could bring him. He often struggles with the sensation that he is stuck in place, or, as Yanez often metaphorically conjures, feels as though he’s drowning. “I nearly drowned when I was ten years old,” Yanez said “and I used that as a metaphor for the ways I could be drowned culturally, personally, and psychologically.”

This is Yanez’s second book.

With poverty still a way of life, Segundo Barrio remembers Cesar Chavez

EL PASO – On a warm, windy March afternoon, the inhabitants of one of El Paso’s most rustic and historic neighborhoods gathered for a carnival held in honor of Cesar Chavez. Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe held a carnival for the famed social justice leader on the grounds of La Fe Preparatory School on Saturday the 26th of March. Hundreds were in attendance, many of them residents of the Segundo Barrio, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. “We need to keep the legacy of Cesar Chavez alive,” says John Estrada, who is a member of the board of directors at La Fe. “And this is one of the ways we do it, through Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe.”

The board of directors of La Fe have supported this event for over 10 years, with the event taking place on the elementary school grounds for the past three years.

Southwest Anime lovers flower at festival

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Hundreds of people dressed in brightly colored costumes, wielding plastic weapons ranging from the largest Styrofoam swords to the smallest light-up magic wands, telling heroic tales of giant robots, ninjas, death gods, magical girls and samurai flocked to New Mexico State University’s Corbett Center. Las Cruces Anime Days, the region’s premiere Anime and Japanese culture festival now in its second year of celebration drew the motley crowd on a Saturday in late January. Crossing the halls between the Artist Alley, Dealer’s Room, event rooms, karaoke, video gaming rooms and panels, the images that surround the crowd couldn’t be more different from one another. At one table, original volume of manga, depicts the semi-realistic lives of students in high school. At another you could find an independent artist selling uniquely styled glassware and embroidery.