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Civil Rights Conference at OLLU Looks at 50 Years of Progress – and Work Still Needed

Rosie Castro stands with the group of women.

November thus far has seen tumultuous midterm elections with reported situations of voter suppression, overheated or damaged voter machines, and a president making unfounded claims of voter fraud brought on by disguised individuals voting twice. This penultimate month of the yr has additionally seen the rancor and outright persecution of asylum seekers from Central America in a rustic with a damaged immigration system and management that might sooner immerse itself in calumny than in compassion.

The president’s revocation of a Hispanic reporter’s press move and the insolent name-calling of three African American ladies journalists occurred not fairly two weeks in the past.

Most of us observe Veterans Day with a real appreciation of those that sacrifice all for our liberties. Not so the chief of our nation, who stayed in his Paris lodge room quite than mark the 100 years because the World Conflict I armistice. Lamentably, the worst the month has delivered to us has been the devastating irrepressible fires in California that go largely ignored by the local weather change-denying chief of america.

In issues of place and planet, many are weary and fearful to be on a rudderless path with hope on the wane.

However the second half of the month has introduced with it a salve for the dispirited within the type of a convention on civil rights.

Held on the campus of Our Woman of the Lake College, Holding Up the Mirror: The 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Civil Rights Fee Listening to on Mexican People within the Southwest reviewed the landmark 1968 listening to on civil rights points dealing with Mexican People and the progress that has been made for the nation’s largest minority over the previous 50 years.

Fifteen specialists examined modifications and challenges dealing with Mexican People from 1968 to 2018 on inhabitants traits, voting rights and voter discrimination, immigration, the administration of justice, schooling, housing, employment and financial safety, and the persevering with plight of farmworkers in a newly minted report of suggestions for the U.S. Fee on Civil Rights. The fee is to incorporate the knowledge within the large tome, spectacular for its measurement and the scope of findings compiled there, in its personal September report.

Rosie Castro stands with the group of women.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Rosie Castro (middle) joins a gaggle of ladies final month as they urge voters to oppose the three San Antonio constitution amendments.

Rosie Castro, a longtime activist who first attended the 1968 hearings as a scholar at OLLU, launched the convention Thursday at the Santikos Mayan Palace with a screening of the movie “Willie Velasquez: Your Vote is Your Voice,” the PBS movie on the life of this pioneer of the civil rights motion who in 1974 based the Southwest Voter Registration and Schooling Undertaking. That vibrant mild within the constellation of the various who’ve labored for equal rights and justice was extinguished too quickly. He died of most cancers in 1988 at the age of 44.

Throughout his remarks at the convention, Robert Brischetto lamented the premature demise of his good friend and colleague and famous that it “brings to us the reality of the fact that we’re not going to be here forever, that we will not be here leading this effort going forward,” and that we should discover methods “to transfer the energy to the young generation” who’re seeing the wide-ranging threats to our democracy each day.

That cost is the rationale for this convention, which included Rosie Castro’s sons, Congressman Joaquín and former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julián, in its first basic session.  On the final minute the congressman couldn’t make it as a result of of urgent issues in Washington D.C., however convention co-chair Bertha Pérez stepped in and masterfully moderated a dialogue between Julián Castro and one other former San Antonio mayor and HUD secretary, Henry Cisneros.

Conference co-chair Bertha Pérez (center) moderates a discussion between former San Antonio mayors and HUD secretaries (from left) Julián Castro and Henry Cisneros.

Courtesy / Kristel Puente

Conference co-chair Bertha Pérez moderates a dialogue between former San Antonio mayors and HUD secretaries Julián Castro (left) and Henry Cisneros.

It was Cisneros who reminded the viewers at OLLU’s Thiry Auditorium of the information round Latinos who “pushed back” by voting within the current midterm elections. Nevertheless, he stated, all of the advances we’ve made can’t appear to cancel out the myriad “misconceptions” about Mexican People and the “limiting roles” that persist.

Citing progress within the areas of schooling, revenue, prosperity, and residence possession for Mexican People – essential benchmarks that point out success and development for this minority group – Cisneros then stated that “this country doesn’t see it that way.”

Recalling the notorious announcement of then-candidate Donald Trump when he described Mexicans as “rapists” and “murderers” and later referred to as into query the qualifications of Decide Gonzalo Curiel for his Mexican heritage, Cisneros stated that partly in charge for the persistent strife of the Mexican American is that the “leader of this country attacked an ethnic group in the United States in 2015” and that has completed a lot to besmirch a gaggle that over its whole historical past has managed solely a tentative maintain on equality – in spite of all greatest efforts.

“They think we’re not from here,” interjected Castro. “But we’ve always been here. We have to celebrate progress and motivate coming generations to have the future they may wish for themselves,” he added to wild applause from the viewers.

And it was a really giant viewers, testomony to the curiosity in selling civil rights. Based on Ezequiel Peña, director of the Middle for Mexican American Research and Analysis at OLLU, “842 registered and we had more than 750” in attendance.

Six concurrent periods introduced in standing-room-only crowds of specialists who lived the tumult of the late 1960s beneath Lyndon Baines Johnson and beneath threats posed to development when he selected to not run for re-election in the course of the Vietnam Struggle. Notable was the wide selection of generations on every panel and in every brimming viewers.

María Antonietta Berriozábal.

Courtesy / Kristel Puente

María Antonietta Berriozábal.

Every room appeared an unimaginable “who’s who” of champions for social justice, together with María Antonietta Berriozábal, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Mario C. Compean, Blandina Cardenas Flores, Irma Mireles Berry, Ignacio Pérez, María, E. Vasquez, Al Kauffman, Joe Bernal, Norma Cantú, and the listing goes on and on with specialists who litigated, ran for public workplace, protested, labored within the fields and within the lecture rooms.  The convention “has been an inspiring call to action and a timely reflection of the historic role OLLU has had in advancing civil and human rights for Mexican Americans and other marginalized communities in the San Antonio’s Westside, across the city and the state of Texas” added Peña.

Rounding out the Saturday morning session to a different full home was Catherine E. Lhamon, chair of the U.S. Fee on Civil Rights.  She held up the cinder-block tome – the newly submitted Suggestions to the U.S. Fee on Civil Rights compiled over current years – and promised that though her workplace has endured current finances cuts that forestall a lot journey, she was glad to be in San Antonio and at OLLU the place the preliminary conferences occurred.

Citing the reported elevated use of pressure on individuals of shade and the main tensions in minority communities which have “escalated past a breaking point,” she stated she sees the multigenerational gathering as a sort of “safety net” to what has been threatened or diminished in current historical past, a approach “to recommit yourself to democracy.”

Not surprisingly, in 1968, the hearings drew extreme criticism from numerous corners of management in San Antonio. The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame College and vice chairman of the fee at that point, provided this response: “All we do is hold up a mirror to the community and let them tell us if there are any problems. And that’s what we’re doing here.”

“What is new about this conference” stated Peña, is the significance of civil rights throughout the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, gender id, and expression and sexual orientation.”  He added what was maybe prime of thoughts for these current who perceive Cisneros’ preliminary assertion that Mexican People are nonetheless beneath siege, nonetheless marginalized in spite of any strides remodeled the previous a number of many years: “Much has been accomplished, but much more remains to be done.”

What was completed at OLLU on this November weekend was a sprucing of that reflective glass Hesburgh instructed, to make sharper and extra vivid, not simply the previous it displays, however the current and even the longer term. It’s a window out into the various paths ahead to proceed the interventions of those that have labored mightily within the pursuits of so many others.

J. Richard Avena, the convention’s government committee chair, addressed the viewers Saturday to offer context for the day’s upcoming occasions. Strolling slowly to the lectern, he joked that his tempo has slowed down within the intervening many years since 1968, however the power of his convictions was on full show.

Noting the affect of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Avena stated that the work of 2018, just like the work of 1968, “legitimizes the issues” that Mexican People and different minority teams nonetheless confront.  He added that the brand new report from the committee is a “street map for social change and that “today’s young people will take this information and nudge it forward.”

On the finish of the convention, as he sat together with his daughters and granddaughters, it was clear that this will probably be our inevitable future. It’s a legacy and a useful directive to maintain preventing.

About “inevitability,” King wrote in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” that “progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts” and “without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.”  His assertion that we “must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right” appears consistent with the work of this massive, numerous, and devoted committee.  Even 50 years therefore, the time is now to, as King wrote, “make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm … to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.”

Lhamon, the U.S. Fee on Civil Rights chair, posed the query to the viewers relating to the previous 50 years since these hearings of 1968: “Have we lived up to the promise to promote equal dignity and respect for all?”  On this November, 50 years later, the reply is that we’re maintaining the battle.

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