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César Chávez, Dr. King and the kids are alright
by Andrew Barbano
Mar 27, 2011 | 778 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last Monday came what historian Guy Louis Rocha called the biggest demonstration ever to hit the state capitol grounds. It was comprised largely of college students from all over Nevada. Many of the latter day freedom riders rode up from Gomorrah South on buses, texting and tweeting lawmakers all the way. The estimated 1,500 surpassed a 2009 Tea Party rally which drew about a thousand.

I was still left wondering if all the recent demonstrations will do much good. None of the 63 state legislators has called for a tax increase on our fatcat major casinos. Closing mining tax loopholes will bring in a few million, but not enough to make a major dent in the projected budget deficit.

Alas and alack, a bill to impose a sales tax on services was introduced a few days ago. Once again, the less you make, the more you pay. That’s the Nevada way.

Taking a cue from the Islamic latitudes, Americans have finally begun taking to the streets to express their righteous rage.

But no Moses has arisen to lead us out of the wilderness. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and César Chávez are long dead.

Maybe we don’t need replacements. Maybe, just maybe, the kids are alright.

On Monday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., the UNR Latino Student Advisory Board will host a César Chávez commemoration under the rotunda in the Learning Center (that’s a fancy name for the new library), just south of Lawlor Events Center. Fiesta Mexicana will dance and Sen. Moises Denis, D-Las Vegas, will speak.

Student leader Carla Castedo Testa, a senior psychology major, called me looking for Chávez posters and such. I put her in contact with local author Georgia Hedrick, who has an extensive stash. I have invited Ms. Castedo Testa and some of her colleagues to the annual César Chávez celebration on Thursday evening at Circus Circus on the legendary labor leader’s 84th birthday. His brother, Librado, and members of the Chávez family will attend, as usual.

We will present the latest round of César Chávez awards to the union organizer of the year, employer of the year and project of the year. We will also install new faces into the Nevada Labor Hall of Fame.

The Legislature has a Latino Caucus for the first time and I expect the majority to attend including Sens. Denis and Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblymembers Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, Irene Bustamante Adams, Steven Brooks, Richard Carillo and Lucy Flores, all D-Las Vegas. Assemblymember Olivia Diaz, D-North Las Vegas, who became a new mother right after the session started last month, might also grace us with her presence, but I will understand if she has more important things to do. I have had additional confirmations from Assemblyman Richard “Skip” Daly, D-Sparks, and Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas. Alas and alack, Gov. Brian Sandoval will not be with us.

We enjoyed the company of a broad bipartisan group of state and local political leaders and candidates last year and Thursday should bring even more.

Doors to the Circus Circus Mandalay Ballroom open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 7. Ticket, table and sponsorship information may be accessed at CesarChavezNevada.com.

Just as the UNR event on Monday leads to the Thursday César soirée, both serve as preface to the national unity day of April 4, the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King. He went to Memphis, Tenn., supporting striking union garbage workers when he was shot.

“On April 4, church leaders, civil rights activists and community members of all stripes will hold events around the country to say, as Dr. King did, that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” stated national NAACP President Benjamin Jealous.

“In recent months, we have witnessed attempts in North Carolina to amend state policy to accelerate the resegregation of its public schools, a widespread assault on voting rights — including an effort in Florida that would take up to 300,000 voters off the rolls, continued attacks on the rights of women and immigrants in addition to the well-publicized offensive on the rights of organized labor,” Jealous added.

“This is one coordinated attack and our response must be a united one,” he noted.

In these parts, the April 4 gathering is planned for the campus of Carson City’s Western Nevada College at 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact last year’s César Chávez union organizer of the year Liz Sorenson at Communications Workers of America Local 9413 in Sparks at 322-9413.

Eraserheads

The Texas board of education has tried to eliminate Chávez and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from history books. The governor of Maine recently ordered Chávez’s name removed from a meeting room at the state labor department.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, member of CWA Local 9413/AFL-CIO, first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

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