Chicano filmmaker, Hector Galán documents the legacy of Willie Velasquez, the Mexican-American activist, who launched a grassroots movement that forever changed the political landscape in the United States in his Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary, Willie Velasquez: Your Vote is Your Voice.” The film breaks cultural barriers highlighting the importance of the Latino vote and was recently presented at The University of Texas at El Paso’s Union Cinema and was accompanied by a voter registration effort to honor Velasquez’s legacy. A production of Galan Incorporated and Latino Public Broadcasting, “Willie Velasquez: Your Vote Is Your Voice,” showcases the life of the man who led the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project and launched 1,000 voter registration drives in 200 cities. Velasquez paved the way for Latinos to have a voice in government and underscored the growing power of the Latino vote. Chicano independent filmmaker, Hector Galan directed the documentary shedding light on the Latino voting revolution.
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 — Shouts of “si se puede! and viva Cesar Chavez” followed the residents of Segundo Barrio — El Paso’s historic neighborhood settled by Mexican immigrants a century ago — into the streets as they were carried along in a river of red flags. Downtown El Paso paused March 31 to watch some 300 residents of Segundo Barrio walk through the downtown area to remember the great Chicano labor leader on his birthday. Participants gathered in the late afternoon at the Border Farmworkers Center (Centro de los Trabajadores Agricolas Fronterizos) on Oregon Street. “We are here to remember Cesar Chavez, and the annual event the Centro has in Segundo Barrio brings out different people from the community.
California State University, Los Angeles, celebrated the 87th birthday of the late Mexican-American journalist Rubén Salazar with the inauguration of an exhibit entitled “Legacy of Rubén Salazar: A Man of His Words, a Man of His Time” that will be on display at the University’s John F. Kennedy Memorial Library until March 26. Salazar was a Mexican-American journalist who was struck and killed by a tear gas canister fired by a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputy during the National Chicano Moratorium March on August 29, 1970. He was 42. “Rubén Salazar was with our people by reporting accurately, fairly and perceptively about our people when he was working as a reporter. Today Latinos become larger in numbers, but not necessarily better understood by the media or our society,” said Dr. Felix Gutierrez noted Chicano and Mexican-American history and journalism scholar.
EL PASO— The Mexican experience in America, presented with verve as a celebration of the culture and and as a bulwark against negative stereotypes in popular art and media was dubbed Mextasy by Dr. William Anthony Nericcio. “This anti-Mexican fervor needs to be met with a kind of invocation of mexicanidad that needs to be equally strong,” Nericcio says. “You got to attack it with the same power with the same fervor, with the same dynamic focus.”
Nericcio captivated a room of faculty members and students when he came to the University of Texas at El Paso recently to discuss and present his travelling art show,
TheMextasypop-up exposition contains objects that Nericcio has collected over the years, Ranging from dolls to posters that harken back to the 1950’s representing and satirizing the Mexican experience in the United States, representing an analysis of Hollywood’s contribution to perceptions of Mexican ethnic identities. Nericcio gets serious when addressing how consumers should fight the negative commentary on Mexicans that some commentators in media like Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter advocate. Ectasy healing
For Nericcio, Mextasy can be seen as a form of defense and cure against those Mexican stereotypes and tropes.
The death of George Ramos, recognized journalist and educator, has created a void that aches in the countless hearts of those he touched in his lifetime. At age 63, Ramos had become the prime example of what devotion to journalism and the community he served really is. Who would have guessed that this Chicano boy born in Los Angeles would grow up to win three Pulitzer prizes? Ramos was once quoted saying, “I can’t just sit on my laurels. I didn’t get into journalism for the rewards.
We can choose to use our lives for others to bring about a better and more just world for our children. People who make that choice will know hardship and sacrifice. But if you give yourself totally to the non-violence struggle for peace and justice, you also find that people give you their hearts, and you will never go hungry and never be alone. And in giving of yourself, you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love. César Chávez, Founder, United Farm Workers of America (UFW)
March 31, 1927 – April 22, 1993
EL PASO, Texas — Upon my return to Texas as a young man after completing my Naval duty, I began to hear stories about César Chávez. In spring 1966, Archbishop Robert Lucy of San Antonio appointed me to head the Bishop’s Committee for the Spanish Speaking and to help the melon strikers in Rio Grande City, Starr County, in South Texas. Although I would not meet César personally until 1985, during his work to eliminate dangerous pesticides, his vision for justice and his leadership of the United Farmworkers of America in the 1960s and 1970s strongly influenced my community activism within the Chicano Movement. My personal experience
Starr County rural communities were the most impoverished in the United States. I organized food and clothing drives in San Antonio and Austin for the striking farmworkers there.
EL PASO, Texas — El Movimiento, also known as the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, was the empowerment of Mexican Americans in the 60s and 70s. Almost a half century later, Chicanos, Latinos and Hispanics continue to fight a struggle, but at times it does not have the same clout as it once did. “There were several arenas that took on a voice back in the late 60’s and early 70’s,” said Benjamín Sáenz, department chair for Creative Writing. “There was a literary movement that involved many writers, mostly poets…and then there was a purely political movement.”
Sáenz, a writer and professor at UTEP, said he was very much involved in the fight and highly political during those times. “We move forward all these years—after the civil rights movement and we talk about the Chicano Movement, but there is no movement per se.
EL PASO, Texas — To live in a border city is to live between contrasting jurisdictions and beliefs. It is to delicately walk the line that divides cultures – never falling to either side – balanced by an ability to sustain contradictions. For the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Bisexual community of El Paso, the city they call home is riddled both in tradition and progressive thought. The line the GLBT community walks is an interminable border that hovers between acceptance and condemnation. “People from both sides of the border … all we’re doing is just tolerating each other, coping with each other, instead of mastering our differences,” said Rosio De Leon, student at the University of Texas at El Paso.
EL PASO, Texas — Dr. Mario G. Obledo’s heart went out to those who had no voice. He fought for decades for the rights of Latinos through civil unrest and through the creation of powerful institutions. On August 18, his heart fought its last battle. The man known by many as the godfather of the Latino movement in the U.S. died at his home in Sacramento, California, of an apparent heart attack. He was 78.