When Angela Davis recently spoke at the University of Texas at El Paso, she opened with a statement that was timely and meaningful for this border community. “No human is illegal,” she said. The crowd responded with a big round of applause. Chicano Studies Professor Irma Montelongo said it was an important show of solidarity by Davis, an iconic black rights activist, with El Paso’s largely Hispanic community. “We’re all in a big struggle right now and unless we can come together across metaphorical boundaries then the struggle is that much harder.
It began with a simple dream of a small group of resolute mothers discussing community problems in a one-room apartment in the Segundo Barrio during the 1960s. Through stiff determination and unflinching courage, the “Mothers of La Fe” cobbled together a non-profit organization to empower families immersed in poverty, unemployment, lack of health care and gang violence. Since that day more than four decades ago, Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe has helped countless families, many of them recent immigrants to El Paso, resulting in the empowerment of a predominantly Latino community. Segundo Barrio, located south of downtown El Paso near the U.S.-Mexico border, is the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhood, housing a community deeply rooted in Mexican culture. “I have always said that all the people in La Fe are my second home,” said Esperanza Tijerina, who attends citizenship classes and English at the La Fe Culture and Technology community center and is preparing to apply for U.S. citizenship.
EL PASO – No, not the New York/New Jersey football team, the 1982 alternative rock band, or the 1971 George C. Scott movie. Even better, they are civil rights heroes among us, standing up and moving for what they believe in. March 31 was César Chavez day. A year ago on this day, I marched in honor of César with Erasmo and Sally Andrade, both long-time advocates of social justice. Erasmo died March 30, 2012.
Recently, I shocked a fellow worker and a few others by outing myself as a Latino community activist. An “Activist” he said accusatorially. “You cannot be a Latino community activist and an advocate for other causes.” Some people, he added may object to a person who has a strong commitment to a particular group. His response both surprised and offended me. While there is a good point in the sense that there is a negative side to being obsessive about commitment, we cannot forget that both he and I are committed to making sure the Civil Rights legislation of 1964 benefits all Americans –regardless of what the word preceding the hyphen appended before the word American and that is used so often and divisively in our diverse society. I am reminded that while some may color the word activist with a subjective shade, activism is at the core of the evolutionary rather than revolutionary change in our society.
AUSTIN – More than 1,000 persons gathered Tuesday at the Texas Capitol in hopes that legislators would hear and consider their plea for respect and equality when passing immigration laws. “Texas Can Do Better,” was chanted, overpowering the downtown streets of Austin from Waterloo Park to the Texas Capitol. Texas legislators have proposed 60 anti-immigration bills at the federal and state level. Some of this proposed legislation would allow law enforcement agents to deport immigrants without establishing a reasonable doubt of the legality of their immigration status. The new laws could take education away from immigrant children, depriving them from a shot at the American dream.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — “The workingman gives up his dreams and slaves for all his life,” the impassioned marcher shouted, her voice blaring Chicanoism out of a bullhorn that echoed down the streets of East Los Angeles. Hundreds of sign-wielding activists marched in the streets to mark the 40th anniversary of the National Chicano Moratorium of the Vietnam War August 27. The Moratorium, which was implemented by the Chicano movement back in 1970, protested the exploitation of minorities, especially Latinos in the Vietnam War. The march followed the original 1970 route, in East L.A., down Whittier Boulevard, passing the Silver Dollar, the bar where Ruben Salazar, a Juarez-El Paso native and acclaimed war and human rights journalist was killed 40 years ago during the first moratorium march.