They could have been professionals, but due to the defeatist attitude, they didn't go farther. We need to encourage all young people to be the best they can be. To try and never give up. Esther Bonilla Read 6ebonr sbcglobal. Casso See below and attached. Father Romero heard about my poem and requested a copy.
In exchange, he sent me this incredible story of the Chicano Moratorium in Los Angeles. I never knew Dr. Casso was there and played such a dramatic role in all of it. All I can say is WOW!! Casso is still surprising me. A must read for all!! Dedicated to the Memory of Dr. Henry Casso — RIP: It was the local culmination and cloture of the national consultation process of Hispanics sponsored by the Bishops of the United States: Mahony told the people, to their great applause, "I am your bishop," and proceeded to declaim for the local church the Pastoral Plan that had emerged from the collective consultations on the national and local levels.
It was a glory day that throbbed with excitement and life! Frank del Olmo of the L. Times called it the largest gathering of Hispanics for any event in L. It was the celebration of a pilgrim journey of a people in col1ective fulfillment of the Lord's will. Although those allegations had been made in anger, and received in great pain, the polarization between Mexican Americans and the Church that once existed was now symbolically healed.
The Catholic Church was now overtly seen to be on the side of the Latino. Two seminal events, eight years apart, very strongly mark important moments for the life of the Catholic Church in Southern California as it relates to Chicanos. Both of these events have had impact on subsequent events, and qualify as historical moments. The National Chicano Moratorium was the one, taking place in East Los Angeles on August 29, , and the appointment of the bishop for the new diocese of San Bernardino-Riverside on November 6, l was another, but the subject of another essay.
Shrill rhetoric sometimes characterized the movements the decade of late 's and early 's. With the impetus of the Civil Rights movement under the leadership of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Under the leadership of Cesar Chavez, California farm workers, mostly of Mexican and Filipino heritage, were improving their lot.
Within the Catholic Church, various priests' councils or senates were forming within dioceses throughout the country as an expression of collegiality, a practical reform of the Second Vatican Council. These clerical groups certainly aspired to use their solidarity as a power-base to further their own agenda, but also to work together for the good of the whole church, especially in in its relationship to the world.
This newly formed Chicano priests organization issued its own clarion call for Mexican American bishops to be selected. This organization, compiling a list of Mexican American priests of the country, was responsible for my receiving the invitation to the ordination of Bishop Patrick F. Flores on Cinco de Mayo I was curious since I did not know him. At the ordination, I discovered that Fr. It was my first face-to-face informal introduction to members of the organization and other local priests.
Within three months of the organization's first meeting, amidst great throngs and a variety of Mariachi groups playing, Patrick Flores was ordained as the first Mexican American Bishop in the United States. The Spurs' basketball stadium near the Alamo and along the city's famed River Walk was full!
Cesar Chavez proclaimed a scripture reading at the Mass. The shootings at Kent State University in Ohio that took place the previous day were vying for space in the local newspaper that day. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds killing four unarmed students and wounding nine others, some of whom were active protesters against the Vietnam War, specifically the recent Cambodian invasion. The Vietnam War was becoming ever more unpopular. Various demonstrations throughout the country protested the high toll of American and Vietnamese soldiers as well as civilian women, and children.
The American Bishops issued a letter clarifying that a Catholic could be a conscientious objector to a specific war. The policy of the American government, however, continued to insist that a potential draftee could be deferred from military service only if he objected in conscience to all wars. The anti-war movement sharpened critical awareness about the war, and affected the lives of many people living in the United States, especially college-age students.
An excessively high proportion of American soldiers killed on the battlefields of Southeast Asia were Mexican American, but that consciousness had not penetrated very deeply within the community. The National Chicano Moratorium was designed to remedy precisely that. Bumper stickers on cars, home meetings, and campus rallies invited people to the First National Chicano Moratorium that was scheduled to take place in East Los Angeles on August 29, These activists were seeking the support of other church-people for the Moratorium. As a result, a few of us Latino Catholic clergy of Los Angeles decided to participate in the Moratorium.
Originally a citrus and avocado-producing community, many of its parishioners and workers were Catholics of Mexican heritage. Over time, the area had become a bedroom community of Los Angeles, and by , a majority of the parishioners were upper middle class Anglos. This fact impelled me to dip my toe into the cool waters of clerical activism and take part in the Moratorium that protested the disproportionate amount of Mexican American soldiers being killed in Southeast Asia.
Several thousand people from all over the country came together for the march on the morning of August 29, Marchers gathered at Belvedere Park in East L. A delegation of eight parishioners accompanied me on the march. One of parishioners, a young Mexican American widow whose Anglo husband had been recently killed in the War, came with her mother aunts and a few others.
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The day was bright and the mood was festive. The people gathered were mostly, but not all, Mexican Americans. A healthy and respectable mixture of others also participated: Young people wearing Brown Berets accompanied the marchers along the way and served as security guards. Well-wishers and the merely curious lined the sidewalks along both sides of the parade route. The organizers of the Moratorium had negotiated with the Sheriff Department that they keep a low profile. The parade route, in the shape of a large "U," was about eight miles long. It proceeded about a half mile eastward to Atlantic Blvd.
Alphonsus Church towards Whittier Blvd. In a spirit of solidarity and in extension of their own marriage celebration, the newlyweds joined the march for a few blocks. Upon arriving at Whittier Blvd. Monitors of the march asked us to keep a respectful silence as we passed Calvary Cemetery, about a mile before coming to Laguna Park where the rally was scheduled to take place. Marchers walked behind various banners that announced their origin or allegiance to place, educational institution or political affiliation: The United Farm Workers of America, and the Socialist Party of America were also there, as were a variety of very different groups and organizations from all over the Southwest and beyond.
Frank Colborn, professor of moral theology at the Archdiocesan seminary, walked with us.
As the march proceeded, the beautiful August morning turned into a hot afternoon. Upon arriving at the park, marchers were handed a sandwich and a cool drink that Green Peace distributed. He was saying that the name of this park should be changed from Laguna Park to El Parque Benito Juarez in view of its location in the midst of the largest concentration of Mexican and Mexican American population in the United States.
Eventually the park was named in honor of Ruben Salazar, the journalist who so eloquently interpreted the reality, experience, hopes, and aspirations of the Mexican American people. Morale of the marchers remained high upon arriving at the Park, although exhausted from the distance and heat of the day. Although the mood was still festive, there was, a collective sense of the seriousness of what we were doing: We enjoyed the opportunity to sit down, rest, and listen to music and various speakers.
Further away, there seemed to be the beginnings of some kind of disturbance. He communicated to the people in word and gesture not to pay attention to whatever was going on nearby. The distraction began in a corner of the park, and then continued along Whittier Blvd. It was about three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, time for me to be getting back to the parish for Confessions.
As I began heading back to the parish, retracing the steps of the Moratorium route, I counted fourteen black and white Sheriff vehicles, sirens wailing, quickly exiting from a side street and pouring onto Whittier Boulevard. I thought to myself that something big must really be going on!
Deacon Mike Clements, large of stature and dressed formally in his Roman collar, tried to help cool the rising temperature of hot tempers involved in the disturbance by organizing a human chain between police and protesters. Father Henry Casso of San Antonio, Texas, was also trying to stave off the police and demonstrators from confronting one another. The source of the disturbance seemed to be a transaction at a convenience store on Whittier Blvd.
Sheriffs soon arrived en masse. Brown Berets, acting as marshals and internal security for the march, together with Mike Clements and Father Casso and others, attempted to fortify the human chain in order to prevent a clash with the Sheriff Department. Skirmishes erupted and intensified. Youth were throwing bottles and Sheriffs were using batons and tear gas to break through the human chain.
An old lady was knocked down, and the arm of a farm worker was broken. Within a matter of minutes, there was panic and pandemonium. Kiki witnessed with understanding a sheriff's vehicle overturned and an American flag burned. Some people tried to get away quickly by escaping towards the east from where they had come, but an entire section had been cordoned off. Nevertheless the area was soon cleared, and people began running in all directions.
Mike Clements remembers being tear-gassed, and then invited to take refuge in the home of a Mexican family. The father of the household, in the calm eye of the raging hurricane surrounding him, reminisced and shared his own memories of harassment by Texas Rangers during the days of his youth. Salazar was seeking reprieve from the melee at the park, less than two miles westward. Salazar had the unique ability to articulate the joys and sufferings of the Mexican people, and communicate those perceptions to the dominant community.
A tragedy unfolded when a member of the Sheriff Department fired a bazooka-type armament into the Bar at the intersection with Clela Avenue, near what is now a wireless phone store. Such a projectile is explicitly prohibited from being used for crowed control. Within a short time, news broadcasts announced the death of Salazar and all mourned! Although there was an investigation of Salazar's death, no member of the Sheriff Department ever went to jail for this killing.
In the course of the day, three other Chicanos received fatal injuries. At Mass, we prayed for justice and peace in Vietnam, and for civil tranquility at home. As a result of the civil disturbance, the community of East Los Angeles was feeling hurt, angry, frustrated, and anxious.
Panic gave way to fear as East L. An eerie quiet followed on its empty streets for the next few days. I witnessed an occasional Chicano youthventuring out of his house and into the streetroutinely stopped by a sheriff who asked the young man to put his hands on the roof of the official Black and White vehicle while he was searched.
The meeting was programmed there as a gesture of solidarity with Cesar Chavez leading the struggle of the farm workers for union representation. Upon learning that the Bishop was planning to come to California, I called by telephone to invite him to visit with some LA people of the Cursillo and Moviemiento Familiar Cristiano. I had also made plans to celebrate my birthday August 31 with some friends, and thought it would be wonderful to have him present.
Times called "the largest walk-out in U. Seven thousand UFW workers walked out of the fields because of sweetheart contracts the Teamsters Union was making with growers. Bishop Flores kept his promise coming to Los Angeles. However, by the time he arrived, East L. Amazingly, there were no references to the Moratorium events of the previous days. The next day, Bishop Flores made a courtesy cal1 on Archbishop Timothy Manning, the new Archbishop of Los Angeles, who had recently returned from Fresno where he had spent two years as ordinary, i.
Their meeting was cordial, relatively brief, and again there were no references to the recent explosion in East Los Angeles. Father Casso reminded the Bishop that many peop1e throughout the country came to know about him as the first Mexican American Bishop through the syndicated column of Salazar. Bishop Flores accepted the invitation go visit the body and console the widow at the mortuary less than a mile from where the Moratorium had begun.
The three of us arrived at the mortuary at the same time as did another clerical trio made up on one bishop and two priests, this one of the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles: After all of the visiting hierarchical clerics had signed the Guest Book, Father Casso added his signature with a special flourish while Bishop Flores consoled the widow and visited with mourners. Two highly committed Mexican American Salesian priests and blood-brothers, Fathers Roger and Ra1ph Luna, both held positions of influence and responsibility at this high school.
Crook asked me top approach Bishop Flores to ask if he would be wi1ling to meet with some people of the "community" that evening. The Bishop was supposed to be returning to his residence at the Cathedral of San Antonio that Claretian priests staffed. He was hoping to greet their counterparts in Los Angeles before returning home, and so agreed to meet with "community people" at the newly opened Claretian Center on Westchester Place. About thirty people gathered for the meeting that night. It was an interesting cross-section of student activists, business people, lay and clerical church people including both Catholic and Episcopalian clergy as well as Mexican American lay1eaders.
Before the meeting began, Bishop Flores spent some time walking with Ricardo Cruz, one of the main instigators-organizers of the Catolicos Por la Raza demonstration that had taken place at St. Basil's Church the previous Christmas Eve. It was also an opportunity for all to reflect on some positive and healing action in which we as of people of faith might collectively engage. All expressed a desire that the Church somehow speak to this historical moment and witness to justice and peace. The inhabitants of East Los Angeles were experiencing great fear, and Chicano activists were especially feeling anger at the death of Salazar and the three others who had died as a result of the violence.
We wanted to proclaim Gospel values as they related to this specific situation, and try to exercise the ministry of healing. After a couple of hours, the group consensus was to call a press conference as a means of accomplishing some of this. Father Casso, in the name of the group, then asked Bishop Flores if he would lend his name to convoke the press conference. After minimal hesitation, and with head bowed and eyes cast down, Bishop Flores silently nodded his head in the affirmative. At the meeting, Father John Luce suggested that the spokespersons for the press conference be priests, and specifically Chicano priests.
Several of us transported ourselves from Clarentian Center about eight miles east, arriving at Salesian High School about 10 pm. We began to get to work in preparation for the next morning. At the makeshift office, Bishop Flores postponed his flight to San Antonio, removed his roman collar, sat down and began typing his opening remarks. Young men and women of the nascent Raza Unida party began making calls to City News Service and other media outlets to alert and invite them for the press conference on the following morning. Five Chicano priests were to be on a panel the next morning at 10 am, and I was selected as spokesperson to read the statement.
I took the statement with me back to the rectory in La Habra, about twenty miles away, to translate it into Spanish for the bilingual press conference. It was a fast night! Seven hours later I was back at Salesian High ready for the conference. This is the first time priests in southern California had spoken as a group identifying themselves with the national Chicano priests organization. We stated that the intention of the Moratorium was to focus attention on the disproportionate number of Mexican American soldiers killed in Vietnam, and affirmed the right of the thousands of participants to freely express ourselves by means of the march and rally.
We described the initial mood of the assembly as festive, and asserted that the internal security provided by Brown Berets seemed adequate to the large crowd. Furthermore, we contended, from our various vantage points and different locations along the parade route and at the park, it was our judgment that the force the Sheriff Department exerted to quell the disturbance was disproportionate and in itself provocative. We denounced the violence and the deaths, and demanded a thorough Congressional investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Ruben Sa1azar.
The Los Angeles priests wanted to be sensitive to ecclesiastical protocol regarding the participation of Bishop Flores. We delegated Father Casso to advise the Archdiocesan authorities there wou1d be a press conference at which some LA priests and Bishop Flores wou1d speak. Father Casso said he would take care of it, but did not. He may have been too caught up in the rapid pace of unfolding events, or merely chose not to relay the information.
It is usual for the media to summarize the highlights of a press conference. Much of our statement was televised, but there was no visual or spoken reference to the participation of Bishop Flores in the press conference. It was as though his contribution was deliberately censored or deleted, perhaps through local ecclesiastical influence, in order to deprive the statement of any semblance of official approval.
The fol1owing November, at the meeting of the Bishops in Washington, D. Later, I wrote a six-paged letter to my Archbishop detailing the events that lead to Bishop Flores' involvement. A very brief reply from the chancellor gave me permission for which I had not asked to go to Latin America for the pair of years. Bishop Patrick Flores in a sincere gesture of good will, while still an Auxi1iary of the Diocese of San Antonio and pastor of the parish of St. Patrick, invited Archbishop Manning to celebrate a Mass for St. The Irish-born Archbishop, who by then had been named a Cardinal, graciously obliged.
Episcopal fences that March 17 were thereby mended. Census Bureau and that came into popular usage within church circles during the 's. Henry Casso had died. I respectfully dedicate this essay to his memory. In subsequent years after the Moratorium, Father Casso left the active ministry, obtained a doctorate from an eastern university, and preferred to be called Dr. I sent the essay to some acquaintances, and invited reaction.
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Father Edmundo Rodriquez, S. Times, in an article about religious leaders and the Moratorium, did report the participation of Bishop Flores. We with you after August 29, John Luce at Epiphany. The Berets had been instrumental in getting the moratoriums started,…but at the time there was officially no coordination with the. Los Angeles is where I was exposed to gang life.
By the time I was fifteen, I had grown tired of the violence in the streets and would hide out in the public library. Instead of hanging out at the corner with gang youth, I would go to baseball fields. Or play basketball at playgrounds. I walked away from my gang. In addition to sports, I also became involved in student government and became student body president in my senior year. In terms of academics, I was even a better student than athlete. I graduated with honors from middle school, but when I got to high school I was not given a college track academic major.
At that time in history, there was a vulgar racist and sexist tracking system. If you were a female, you were assigned a Home Economics or Business major. Prior to assigning me a major, the counselor asked me what my father did for a living. My father did not know about college. He got as far as the 7 th grade. So all he wanted was for me to become a high school graduate. I made him happy because I did, and with honors.
But I was not eligible to attend a 4 year university because as a Business major, I was not placed in algebra, chemistry, or science courses. I had to attend community college to make up those courses. Not having the basic introduction to Algebra, I mistakenly took an advanced algebra class and was getting a D grade toward the end of the semester. It was a blow to me. I lost confidence in my academic ability so I dropped out of college.
That was the racist image of my people that was promoted by white academics, social workers, and politicians. Like most poor Mexican American youth, I felt that I did not have any viable options for a good job so I did what most young men in my situation did, join the military, or volunteer for the draft. Before long I was in the U. Army a year after graduating from high school.
Army Information School at Fort Slocum in New York, because I scored high in the aptitude test, where I was trained to become a propaganda media specialist in radio and television. It was located in the outskirts of El Paso, my hometown. That event started me wondering why I as a U.
After the Coup, I learned U. I thought to myself that something was rotten, not in Denmark, as Shakespeare had written in one of his plays, but that it was rotten elsewhere. I was only 22 years old at the time, and without a college education, and had not yet developed a critical political consciousness to enable me to articulate a critique of U. But it did start making me become more politically aware. After my discharge from the U. Army, I returned home determined to return to college.
Westminster court case ended dejure segregation for Mexican Americans in California. I did not learn about that Case in a college class because the Mexican American experience was not being taught in the college curriculum. I had to learn about it by doing independent research. Unfortunately, though de jure segregation for Mexican and African American students was terminated, by the Mendez and Brown cases, those students continued to experience de facto segregation.
My inspiration came from Dr. King and his Southern civil rights movement. It was the first time Mexican Americans had marched en masse against racial and ethnic inequality in the history of the United States. Several weeks after the student strike. The police, wearing bullet proof vests, broke into my apartment and with guns drawn ordered me to fall on the floor so they could handcuff me, and asked me where my weapons were located.
They ran upstairs looking for weapons and terrorized my family where they had been sleeping. Another officer saw a stack of books on my kitchen table where I was typing my paper. I was taken outside and one of the officers told me that he would take the handcuffs off if I wanted to make a run for it. I had a hunch I would be shot. I declined the offer. I was taken to the County Jail and thrown into a cell with men who had been arrested for felony crimes ranging from murder and armed robbery to rape and forging checks.
None of them could believe that I was their cellmate for only organizing non-violent student protest! I told them I could not believe it either. In fact I was still in shock that I had been arrested. Our attorneys decided to take our case to the California Supreme Court.
But on the way there, 2 years later, the California State Appellate Court ruled in that we were innocent by virtue of the First Amendment to the U. I thank God for that amendment and the civil liberties we enjoy every day. If it were not for that amendment, which as you know, grants us freedom of speech, I would be in prison today instead of being here with you.
Activists were arrested on trumped up charges, undercover agent provocateurs and informants were placed in movement organizations, and character assassination stories about activists were leaked to newspapers throughout the nation. Our Chicano Movement adopted Dr. Our movement connected us directly to the historic common ground of struggle that Mexican Americans have shared with African Americans. The difference is that whereas their ancestors were brought to the United States as slaves, our ancestors became a colonized people within the new boundaries of an expanding American Empire.
It was a consequence of the war between Mexico and the United States that ended in with Mexico losing half of its territory. The northern part of Mexico became what is now known as the Southwestern United States. From until the early 20th century, Mexicans were also lynched and could not vote unless they paid a poll tax they could not afford. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, Mexican children could not attend white schools. Mexicans were not allowed in public places like swimming pools and restaurants.
As was the case with African Americans, Mexicans were considered a racially inferior people. During the s and 30s, when the U. Congress engaged in debates over Mexican immigration, white politicians and academics gave testimony that categorized Mexicans as a menace to the dominant culture. Those representing right wing conservatives argued that Mexicans were a threat to the cultural and social fabric of American society. These racist attitudes and beliefs about Mexicans and other Latinos continue to permeate our society at large. Today you can see that clearly in the state of Arizona and other states that have passed laws or are currently proposing laws that criminalize Latino undocumented immigrants.
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In addition to inspiring me to contribute to the making of the Chicano Movement, Dr. King also inspired me to become part of the anti-Vietnam War movement. I had already participated in one the first major protest actions against the war that took place in Los Angeles in when President Lyndon Johnson visited that city.
In that speech, Dr. He made clear the war not only drained funds away from meeting the human needs of the poor at home, but also sent black men to ostensibly fight and die for democracy abroad when it did not exist in Georgia or East Harlem at the time. I could see how Mexican American soldiers were doing the same thing. Ostensibly fighting and dying for democracy abroad when it did not exist in ELA, the Segundo Barrio, and other barrios throughout the nation.
Today, we are once again confronted by critical and challenging times. As a matter of fact, I think we are currently living in the worst of times. A black President has not made a difference in making the times better. Our nation continues to follow a foreign policy of war instead of peace. And poverty and racism unfortunately remain alive and well.
King would remind us that conditions will get better sooner than later if we build a mass movement for social justice and peace. He courageously spoke truth to power to both liberals and conservatives. His words and criticism of political leaders, who remain part of the problem instead of the solution, and of those who remain passive during critical and challenging times, still ring true today.
He would be the first to hold President Obama and the U. Congress accountable if they continue to ignore the poor and continue to pursue a foreign policy of intervention and war throughout the world. Many of us have already broken the silence against the wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. But we need to remind those who have not, that Dr.
King would also have wanted us to act and not be intimated by those who tell us it is unpatriotic to openly criticize our government and the President, regardless of race, during a time of war. We have lost enough of our young men and women of all races and ethnicities. We must also speak out against the killing of any more innocent people in those countries.
Finally, that we demand that all the U. We must have the same courage Dr. King had during the Vietnam War and demand that the over three trillion dollars spent on war and military assistance in the Middle East must be diverted to fight poverty at home. It would be a better way to resolve the economic crisis confronting our nation today. We must demand that as Obama and the Congress have supported the bail out of the corporate, banking, and financial institutions responsible for that crisis, that they must now bail out the poor and the working underclass.
King would be alive today, no doubt he would be speaking out in defense of the poor undocumented Latino immigrants who are forced to work as a cheap labor force. They are the most vulnerable to economic and social injustice. They are treated like criminals although they are innocent victims of what I call a government terrorist war led by the ICE, the enforcement immigration agency of the Department of Homeland Security.
Obama has gone down in history as the President who has deported the most number of people, almost 2 million at this point. He has also maintained a militarized border between Mexico and the U. We must demand that President Obama and the Congress produce a comprehensive immigration policy based on the human rights of undocumented workers and their families. Police shootings, and also by others, have become common occurrences especially in the large cities throughout our nation.
Today it is In real numbers that adds up to over 46 million people living in poverty. More Women in poverty than Men: Half of them were children. Tragically, those children will suffer more when the food stamp budget was drastically cut recently by the U. The Brown v.
Westminster that ended dejure segregation and opened the doors into white schools for black and Latino children. But today they continue to be victimized by de facto segregation in the poor and working class inner city school districts throughout the nation. In higher education, affirmative action diversity programs that were products of Dr. The consequence is that Black and Latino student enrollments have drastically declined in public colleges and universities across the nation.
For example, Black students at my campus are now largely invisible, except on the football and basketball teams. And Latinos, who are now the majority people of color population in my state, have also declined and remain underrepresented in institutions of higher education. The following U. Census numbers tells us the consequence: In terms of women, 30 percent of white women had a college degree or higher, compared to Those who have led the struggle against Affirmative Action and diversity have been victorious because they have effectively co-opted Dr.
It is ironic that Ward Connerly, a conservative African American and a product of affirmative action, who served as a regent of the University of California, has been a prominent leader in the struggle against affirmative action and diversity throughout the nation.
Last year we celebrated the 50 th anniversary of Dr.
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It is the only one of his many speeches that is publicized during his holiday. The most quoted words from that speech were as follows: Those who are against affirmative action, use that quote to include white children. But they ignore the fact that in that speech, Dr. King was making specific references to black racial inequality.
King was well aware that white supremacy had created an institutionalized system of white privilege that has existed since it was instituted when our Republic was founded. They instead contributed toward an equal playing field between people of color and the white majority. If he were alive he would argue that affirmative action and diversity remain critically important today because African Americans and Latinos remain underrepresented in institutions of higher education and other dominant social and political institutions.
In contrast, they are over represented in the prisons. According to the U. That is not the type of affirmative action that Dr. King had in mind. Prior to his assassination in , Dr. King called for the nation to dedicate itself to a nonviolent War on Poverty. He had decided to build a multiracial coalition of all poor people, inclusive of white, black, indigenous, Latino, and Asian.
King believed the time had come to transform civil rights struggles into a mass movement for human rights because War and Poverty negatively impacts all the American poor regardless of race and ethnicity. If we want to truly honor Dr. And hopefully, those coalitions can lead toward the organizing of another march on Washington to demand that the Obama Presidency and the Congress declare a war on poverty.
Not a temporary one like the one declared in by President Lyndon Johnson, but a permanent one that would last until poverty is eliminated! King did not hesitate to speak truth to power no matter the consequences. We must do the same today. We must use his legacy as the inspiration for us to be active citizens beyond the time for elections. The time has come for us to become active citizens in our communities, in our workplace, and on campus.
We must become community organizers and continue to carry the torch for hope and fundamental, not symbolic change. The words he wrote and spoke on the issues of his time remain meaningful for us today. We must put them into practice and keep his revolutionary spirit alive and struggle to build an authentic Multiracial Democracy committed to social justice and peace at home and abroad. King inspired me to have my own dream for an Authentic Multiracial Democracy.
I would like to share my dream with you today. I have a dream that Americans of all colors, ethnicities, cultures, religions, sexual preferences, the able and disabled, men and women, will give birth to an authentic Multiracial Democracy. A Democracy that will promote and nurture racial and ethnic diversity and equality beyond symbolic tokenism.
A Democracy that will promote social, economic, and environmental justice, religious tolerance, and peace at home and abroad. A Democracy with a government that will include a representative of every diverse group at the table of political power on behalf of the people, not the military- corporate- prison complex. A Democracy with a national political multiparty electoral system where candidates for elective office include the poor and working class, not just those who are rich or middle class. With an electoral system where every vote will in fact be counted and not influenced by corporate lobbyists.
A Democracy where human needs are prioritized and not the needs of the rich and the corporations. And makes possible a government bureaucracy that assures the safety of our citizens, especially the poor, when natural disasters take place. A Democracy that honors all workers, those who are citizens and those who are not, the documented and the undocumented.
A Democracy that defines health care, housing, childcare, and education as Human Rights. A Democracy that prioritizes youth as the most important investment for the future of our nation and builds more schools instead of prisons. A Democracy that wages war against poverty and not sovereign nations that do not represent a direct threat to our security.
A Democracy that does not support dictatorships throughout the world. A Democracy that will be based on love and compassion and not hate and greed. In conclusion, I pass on to you the main lesson that I have learned during my years as a fighter for freedom and peace. And that lesson is that struggle is life and life is struggle. But most importantly, that victory is in the struggle! Law and Policies on Drug Problem Impractical,. It was a most productive period of our lives when my family and I were assigned — and lived — in eight different countries. I lived in three countries by myself. For this reason, I would like to tell some of my many professional and personal stories in a series of installments over a period of months.
For professional reasons, I will try to stay away from the highly technical side of my work — although citing some examples and parts of my experiences. These first few stories took place during my transfer from Panama to Miami to Washington, parts of my tour in the Stateside Office, and a time, about 40 years ago, when one of our studies showed that parts of the U. Law and Policy against the drug problem were on the wrong course or impractical. Some of my jobs included a Regional Bank CABEI in Honduras, televised education program in El Salvador, a family planning program in Costa Rica, integrated agricultural programs in two or three countries and the emergency assistance program to Nicaragua right after its earthquake of December 23, Thus, travel was heavy, but tolerable and I would get to see the family frequently.
While stationed in this regional office, a new Auditor General R. Almost immediately after assuming his office, this political appointee, made the decision that operating a Regional Office RIG from Panama was just too costly because it entailed the hiring of local staff, assignment of technical personal and their families, paying the rental of their homes, education for children, etc. Yes, you read right Miami, Florida. We would be covering the same huge area — Central, South America, and the Caribbean. Des , he came to Panama, assembled all of us, and, with his odd biddy-eye look, informed us of his decision.
Most of us thought his decision was ludicrous. In fact, it was really crazy and made no sense from any angle that you looked at. Wasted travel time to more distant locations and more per-diem costs could very well equal personnel and family costs paid in the Panama office.
People would be quitting left and right, the marital situation would be untenable, and personnel morale would be disastrous. The Spanish language was essential; some of the U. Staff did not speak Spanish and we had six local people on our staff that was highly trained in our type of work; what would happen to them. He flatly told us that he was not concerned with that. The local staff would be terminated and that he did not give a damn about personnel and family hardships. In other words, this political-self-righteous-biddy-eyed nincompoop, who really did not seem to have good judgment, had made up his mind — probably to show his authority -- and no one was going to change it.
Fred S and Jim Gr were extremely competent office managers and all of us had very high regards for them. So, there was no reason whatsoever for closing the Panama office. But, that was the way it was going to be. However, I was given orders to go on Home Leave and transfer to Miami. My family wife, four children, and a huge German Shepard named Sarge and I quickly sold the two cars, packed up, and went on Home Leave to Austin, Texas. Since we had had such good luck with an old beat-up Volkswagen Beatle — which we had bought locally -- we searched for and got a green Volkswagen station wagon in Austin.
As some of you remember, these vehicles had the motor in the back and you could hardly fit any luggage in there. The luggage was usually placed on top of the station wagon. The family had a ball in Austin. Since we owned a home there, there was no problem. We stayed there for a full month, traveled around Texas -- to Laredo to see my mother, to Monterrey, etc. We had a real fine time. Time came to go to Miami. We loaded up the Station Wagon.
Sepúlveda-Pulvirenti, Emma [WorldCat Identities]
I drove, wife sat in front with my youngest daughter Melissa , the three oldest children Joe, Jerry, and Linda sat on the back seat and we put Sarge the dog on top of the motor part of the car just behind the back seat and all bags on top of the car. Sarge was an obedient and noble dog. He laid in the back very quietly — at first. Old Sarge got too hot on top of the motor, so he jumped in the back seat with the kids. The back seat got too crowded, the kids started fighting with each other, and the disruptions got heated. We would stop at every rest stop, kids would let out some of the pent-up energy, and Sarge would stretch.
Back into the car once again and the fighting would start all over again. Finally, Joe, the oldest, jumped where the motor was. How he stood that hot motor, I will never know. Stopping for breaks and at night was a blissful time. Everybody would jump into swimming pools and cool down. We finally got to Orlando, Florida.
As planned, the following two days were delightful. We stayed in a nice motel, went to Disney World, and just relaxed. On the third day in Orlando, I called Jim Gr. He gave me a big surprise. Ganl had either quit or been fired. Since going back to Panama would be an embarrassment to the AG Office and be.
In sum, t he Miami experiment had lasted no more than three months. It really represented a monumental embarrassment, mistake, and a waste of human and financial resources for the Government. The irony of this was that the Panama Regional Office was later reopened again and — because of the assignment of a pitiful manager who caused great staffing problems — it was closed again and sent to Washington once again. At some later date, the office was once again transferred to Panama and to my knowledge, it is still there.
This Office is now closed. Turn right around and go into Washington. It was in North Carolina that we had a problem with the car. At almost the same time, I saw our front left tire next to my side window. While the car moved forward, that tire was racing backwards — and fast. I saw the back car try to avoid the tire, but it hit the car and bounced all around. That sight — of the front tire being at the same speed level of the driver — was the weirdest feeling I had ever had.
Because of the weight on the car, the little gizmos that hold the tire rim and car busted and the front of the car no longer had a tire. At the same time, our left front of the car dipped down, the car began to careen all over the road, and somehow — probably a miracle of God — we did not overturn. I was able to eventually maneuver the car to a stop. You have never seen a man so grateful that all of us -- including the people in the car behind -- were safe and sound.
Getting the car fixed took one whole day. And we finally got to Washington D. Buying a house was a real hassle; after we found the house and had signed the Purchase Contract, the previous owners did not want to move. It took four months and a lot of hardship to resolve the problem, but we finally moved into a nice comfortable home at Duvawn Street in Alexandria, Virginia. Although I had been Chief Resident Auditor, and Audit Manager in the other countries, my title was downgraded and in theory, this assignment meant that my travel factor would be diminished and I would be permitted to study and improve myself as I later found out, this was sure a false theory.
I quickly reunited with many of my old friends from Vietnam, Panama, and other places. Carlos RC was there. He and his wife Carmen have always been my best friends — in fact, like brother and sister — ever since Vietnam. Other Latino friends included Rudy C. Anyway, work was awfully heavy, analytical, and stressful. At the time, there were no Word Processors; so, once all the field-work was done, there was a lot of analysis, write, rewrite, type, and retype. In subsequent parts, I will provide more stories.
In this one, I want to discuss the following important story — related to the illicit drug problem — which was in the incipient stages back then and is most relevant at the present time. In any event, my special interest on the use of the "Weed," as well as conversion of Coca, to a form of medical pharmacopoeia dates back to that time — when I was assigned to the Washington Office.
Thus, there was a big emphasis on assisting less developed countries eradicate narcotic related agriculture like Coca, Marihuana, etc. Briefly, The Controlled Substance Act of contains five Schedules listing different types of drugs and categorizing them in diminishing order, according to their dangerous effect. Schedule 1, which lists the most dangerous drugs, contains a long list of drugs including Marihuana or Cannabis, cocaine, opium, etc.
A high official of the Agency, at the time, sent a request for a world-wide study of the programs. The question was whether restrictive drug programs -- and corollary "Crop Substitution" were, in actual practice, effective and made good economic sense for use in developing countries. As stated previously, Carlos, who was in charge of the review, and I have been like brothers since the time we served in Vietnam. He and Frank A did all the field work and visited Bolivia, Colombia, Thailand, and other countries and did a tremendous amount of analysis, visitations, talking to U.
After visiting the producing sources Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Thailand, etc. However, after close to 40 years, I cannot recall them all. Nevertheless, the principal ones pointed to the fact that restrictive types of drug programs would be extremely costly and extremely difficult to monitor. The practicality of crop substitution in countries like Peru, Bolivia, and other countries was really questionable and the economic burdens imposed on the countries could be untenable. In fact, producers were totally against any changes. In one of his visits to Bolivia, Carlos witnessed a demonstration march, near the U.
As everyone knew at the time, Bolivia and Peru had grown and used Coca and the Weed since time immemorial. One other conclusion was that evidence seemed to indicate that the big consumers including the U. In sum, the conclusion of the study went against continuance of the then U. The base product is their lively hood and is used in the Altiplano high altitude to ward off hunger, altitude sickness, as tea, for medicinal purposes, and even as soft-drinks.
To do the study, a local person on my staff, a chauffeur, and I travelled, by car, from Lima to Arequipa, to Puno, to Cusco, and return to Lima. I was going every which way — extreme headaches, vomits, diarrhea, and the works. At those altitudes you can become dehydrated real fast. By the time we got to Puno, I was so sick that I thought death was near. All it took to fix me up was two or three cups of that tea. So, I can attest that Coca Leaves can serve a great medicinal purpose. Since the team felt that demand for drugs in the U.
For this reason, the best recommendations they could make were for a four-fold approach designed to limit the Systemic Profit Factor. When I saw and we discussed the fieldwork and recommended solutions, my reaction was that their points were the exact things needed, but had that strange feeling that the top people would not accept such radical views. As you might imagine, the conclusions, concepts, and recommendations of the Original Draft Report were so controversial that they never saw the light of day.
Because they never explained their actions, my guess is that because a mere Agency out of many would be challenging a flawed law instituted by the U. They began to consider that Carlos, Frank A, and I guess me were completely off their rocker. As a result, a good study never saw the light of day. It was changed so radically that the failing policies were allowed to continue their wayward course. Were the team and the above conclusions that wrong? It has now been close to 40 years since that study was made and history now shows the conclusions to have been greatly futuristic.
Just look at these facts: Since , the U. The costs of all these efforts have been astronomical. One Internet source says that the U. T he supplying countries have not stopped producing drugs. Just as concluded in , our country is the largest market for their products. In fact, drug consumption in the U. A s long as the U. Because there is a profit factor at nearly every point of the illegal drug system. Just look at the constant newspaper headlines showing a number of ways enforcement is circumvented and the drugs are made available in the U.
Now, production is shifting to the U. Prison population continue to be increased when non-violent people are incarcerated for possession of minor amounts of unlawful stuff or someone smokes a reefer, or is pictured puffing Mary Jane on a bong. For example, according to the Internet, drug related incarcerations grew from 50, in to , in Other statistics say that over 2.
In fact, legal enforcement seems overloaded and the U. Thus, if we were to hypothesize the outcome of finding a sensible resolution to the problem -- back then or today -- we probably would reach the same conclusion — as was done with liquor in -- not to throw good money at the two interrelated problems -- the drug demand of the U. Looking at it from an economic point-of-view, the analysis probably shows that the U. If the point of diminishing return has been reached, the long historical negative lessons are then telling us that it is time that we cut our losses and begin to try other alternatives….
During this past 40 years there have also been certain Commissions and Presidents who have voiced appeals for decriminalization of Marihuana and other drugs. They issued a report which emphasizes several things: Were my friends and their conclusions, in , wrong? Not by a long shot. In fact, I wrote many parts of this particular section nearly 4 years ago. Since then, many U. States have been finding that using the Tetrahydrocannabinol THC portion of Marihuana for medicinal purposes help tremendously in alleviating the symptoms of a number of diseases and conditions.
Over 16 States have now legalized Marihuana for medical purposes. Colorado and Washington States have legalized it for both recreational and medicinal. In , the Country of Uruguay was the first in the Continent to legalize Marihuana country-wide. Portugal has a legalized system covering different drugs.
Israel researches and allows the use of Marihuana for different medicinal purposes. Thus, the time has been reached for the remaining U. States to reassess this perennial problem and find more practical solutions. It seems to me that the four-fold recommendations made in that ancient USAID draft report , combined with the recommendations -- made by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy -- are still valid and merit reconsideration.
Perhaps the recommendations might need some minor modifications; for instance, the U. However, the recommendations should be adopted across the U. In this connection, it is estimated that if drugs were legally sold and taxed at a comparable tax as alcohol or cigarettes, the tax revenue to the U.
The bottom line is that books targeting Latinos are a growing segment because of the rapid growth of the market and the current gaps in relevant topics being presented. The International Latino Book Awards are another reflection of the growing quality of books by and about Latinos. In order to handle this large number of books, the Awards had judges, nearly double the number from The judges glowed about the quality of the entries. In recognition of the quality and variety of books now available, Latino Literacy Now, the organization that oversees the Awards, is carrying out the Award Winning Author Tour.
More about the Awards can be found at www. Las Comadres — Latino Literature. Nora de Hoyos Comstock The Artist: Isabel Campoy; Charlesbridge; Alma: Born in Cuba; Isabel: What History Failed to Tell Us.