Judge Blocks Naming of San Antonio, Texas Street After Cesar Chavez

Next month, president Barack Obama will be the first president since John F. Kennedy to visit Puerto Rico. I was shocked to find out that it has been fifty years since a sitting president has visited the island colony. But hey, I guess it can be said that Barack is going all out campaign mode and pandering to err’body and e’ry group he needs votes from in 2012. Gotta give the brother some credit; he’s not taking anything for granted and is putting in work. Yes the Republican prospects are a collective joke, but there’s work to do.

Speaking of work to be done, surely you know who Cesar Chavez was, right? You know, the brown skinned brother who was an activist for migrant workers from Latin America? Yeah, the brother who posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom which happens to be this country’s highest civilian honor? Well, though his legend and accomplishments in the interest of freedom and equality were deserving of such honor and recognition. Apparently for “certain people” in San Antonio, this poses a threat to the “American” way of life as they know it, as they’re opposed to a street being named after him.

A state district judge sided with local groups protesting the name change, after seven members of San Antonio’s city council all voted in favor of the name change. The two white members, the one African American member, and the lone Asian-American all voted against the name change. I suppose for them, having your cities main thoroughfare (which is currently named after a Mexican state) named after Chavez would be too much of a compromise on the historical integrity of the city and the lives of “certain people”:
The proposal to rename Durango Street, one of the city’s main streets, has divided a city where 61 percent of residents are Hispanic.

“It is very important that we protect the integrity of our history, and that includes objecting to changing street names,” said Bill Oliver, who represents the San Antonio Conservation Society, which sued to oppose the name change.

But Jaime Martinez, a longtime San Antonio labor leader and a former associate of Chavez, who died in 1993, disagreed.

“We’ve been waiting for fifteen years to get the renaming of a street, a major street, for Cesar Chavez,” Martinez said. “There are over 200 streets in the last 10 years that had their names changed, and there was no problem.”

Chavez, a founder of the National Farm Workers Union, was best known for calling on Americans to boycott buying grapes to press his demand for higher wages and better working conditions for migrant workers. Many of the workers were undocumented immigrants who worked the California produce fields. (source)I can understand how “certain people” in a community with a 61% Latino community would feel the need to keep it un-colored. After all, this is Texas we’re talking about here; and we all know too well about their recent whitewashing revisionist history as it relates to school text books and curriculum. So suffice it to say, I wouldn’t expect anything other than the obvious from fellow Americans in the Lone Star State. I mean, it’s bad enough the state looks like a third world country with all those undesirables.

And speaking of which; Democracy Now! co-host, Juan Gonzales, has re-released his book, “Harvest Of Empire: History Of Latinos In America”. It’s a book which chronicles the browning of America as it relates to history of Latinos in America. Yes, there is a rich history of Latino contributions, but sadly “certain people” would have you think differently. There’s also an upcoming documentary based on the book that I’m seriously looking forward to as well.

Call me a cynic, but there’s a bit of dramatic irony by Barack Obama being the first president to visit Puerto Rico in fifty years. To me, giving face time via the media to a subculture that exists within America is much like what’s happening on the mainland as certain immigrants, and their contributions, are ignored.

Juan Gonzales clearly makes the point in the following video that much of the immigration debate ignores the key role played by the United States in many Latin American countries. A role which now has impacted this country by an explosion of Latino immigrants. Many people either willfully or ignorantly ignore U.S. foreign policy which negatively impacted the lives of many in Latin America. Many who now seek refuge and residency here in the United States of America, are people who contribute positively to our society in many ways; and are people who should no longer be ignored, but be respected and recognized, much like Cesar Chavez and the many Latinos who have walked this land.