The way to power is through ballots, not bullets, Julian Bond told me decades ago

Julian Bond answered my question and then with a smile bestowed the supreme compliment on a rookie reporter — “You did your research,” he said. That was 44 years ago and I was in my first year as a cub reporter at the Winchester Evening Star, a small afternoon newspaper that is still in business today in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Bond, an African American leader going back to the early days of the civil rights movement who died Saturday at 75, had stopped on a lecture tour in this conservative bastion of Old Virginia where the ghost of Jim Crow was still flapping. I was surprised to hear he would speak at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. I had arrived in this southern town just a few months before and felt I had dropped into a 1950’s time warp.

LaVoyger Durham

Group aims to curb South Texas migrant deaths with water stations

By Mark Collette / Corpus Christi Caller-Times

BROOKS COUNTY — For the first time, an aid group is deploying water stations in the Brooks County brush in an effort to prevent migrant deaths, and finding creative ways to work with private ranchers who don’t usually fling the gates wide for outsiders. It’s a fledgling movement — only two stations are in place so far — but the rising interest from human rights groups is another indicator of the mounting death toll. It is also a sign of Brooks County’s emergence as a kind of new Sonoran Desert, where water stations have long been a fixture in southern Arizona. As migration patterns and U.S. border enforcement strategies have changed, the migrant trail has shifted, too, leading them on foot through the county’s barren, 944 square miles of private ranches to avoid the Border Patrol checkpoint south of Falfurrias. Nearly 80 bodies have been recovered in the county in 2013, approaching the record 129 in 2012.

Washington remembers, celebrates the 50th anniversary of March on Washington

WASHINGTON – When Ethel Delaney Lee,87, heard about plans for the March on Washington in 1963, she knew it was something she wanted to participate in. She didn’t expect it to be such a defining moment in history, but soon realized how important this gathering was. “It was in the news, in the newspapers, announcements in the churches. You couldn’t exist in Washington and not hear about it,” Lee said in an interview in the Northwest Washington home she moved into just weeks before the march. Lee, her late husband.

Pachuco Zoot: A Tale of Identity by coreographer Lisa Smith. (Ezra Rodriguez/

The Pachuco’s zoot suit established cultural identity, challenging prejudice

EL PASO – He stood tall and proud next to his newly polished red 1937 Chevy Deluxe Coupe, the feather on his wool felt tonda gliding through the cold spring breeze, his lisa and drapes crisp without fail. The two toned calcos on his feet shined as a star on dark cloudless day. No one in the barrio had trapos as suaves as this vato. He is part of the Pachuco subculture of young Mexican-American males that developed in the Southwest during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. They wore brightly colored zoot suits and spoke in a lyrical blend of Spanish and English called Caló.

Conscience of a community activist

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.

Useful notes on the First Amendment, libel, and copyright

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution

After the American colonists won their freedom from England in 1783, they could not agree on the form of their new government. Many were afraid that a strong central government would lead to tyranny again. So the colonists added ten amendments to their new constitution in 1787 guaranteeing a number of fundamental rights for the citizens of the new country. The first of these amendments protects, among other things, the right to free speech and a free press. The government CAN regulate speech (or “expression” as it is now called) but only under certain conditions, the most important being obscenity, concern for public safety or national security.

Demonstrators Invoke César Chávez in Fight Against the Arizona Law

EL PASO, Texas — Waving signs that read “La Lucha Continúa” and “Thank a Farm Worker Today,” hundreds of people marched in honor of the late civil rights activist César Chávez and in protest of the recent Arizona immigration law. “Farm workers rights should be respected, because they are the ones bringing food to the tables,” said 60-year-old Silvestre Galván, who fought alongside Chávez, the founder of the United Farm Workers, during the 1973 grape strikes in Delano, California. Carlos Marentes, director of the Border Farm Workers Center said the annual income of a field worker is about $6,000, far below the federal poverty guidelines of an annual income of $10,000 per person. Marentes pointed out the hazardous working conditions such as exposure to pesticides that harm the health of agriculture workers. “In the crops of chile, particularly in the Luna County, New Mexico, where many of these laborers go to work, more and more toxic chemicals are being used and as a result they have more diseases, especially in the skin of workers,” Marentes said.