Funeral Arrangements for Reies Lopez Tijerina

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Rest in Peace ~ Reies Lopez Tijerina, Chicano Movement Leader

In the middle of celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came the sad news that Chicano movement leader and icon Reies Lopez Tijerina passed away at the age of 88. Professor Jose Angel Gutierrez in a speech to activists once stated, “He was our Chicano Malcolm X.”

Tijerina, a former evangelist and fiery orator with roots in South Texas, has often been described as one of the major warriors of the Chicano movement that advocated for civil rights for Mexican-Americans across the Southwest in the 1960s and 1970s.

He relished the attention but preferred to be called an “Indo-Hispano,” a term he said more accurately reflected his ethnic and cultural heritage.

Tijerina, the only major Chicano activist who served time in prison, was widely admired and despised as the former leader of the Alianza, a militant citizens group in New Mexico, that sought to repossess old Spanish land grants in the Southwest. The group contended Mexican-American heirs were wrongfully deprived of their land.

He will be remembered most for his land-grant reclamation movement in New Mexico. One can learn more about Tijerina by watching the video below:

 

The Plot Thins…Houston Mayoral Line-Up Update

Schleifer at the Chron provides us an update on who is running for Houston Mayor and who is still playing with people’s hearts because the law won’t let them announce without resigning. It’s basically the same story as the one we provided on the DC Podcast, but this time, the plot seemed to thicken (or maybe thin) after a federal judge decided that the fundraising rules the City imposed on candidates needed to be taken out of the picture.

Regarding money, it would seem that State Rep. Sylvester Turner would be a leading candidate with $1 million in his state rep account, according to the article. CM Stephen Costello raised $250K since the demise of the fundraising rules (according to the article) and would add that to the $273K he reported recently. CM Oliver Pennington reported $116K, but also spent $126K in the last period. The rest of folks in the running, we’ll have to wait for the summer.

For the non-committals, Sheriff Adrian Garcia has $57K in his Sheriff campaign account after raising $175K in the last period and spending $350K. There isn’t a 01/2015 report for Orlando Sanchez, but his 8-day out report in 2014 showed him with $200K in outstanding loans .

Like we stated in the podcast, I’m not sure how the court decision on fundraising rules would affect anything. One thing is for sure; if one is a viable candidate with a fundraising operation at the ready, then there shouldn’t be a problem raising cash at any point during the year. Of course, getting an effective message out that raises awareness and  increases participation and turnout, well, that’s a whole other blog post.

In-State Tuition Opportunity Under Attack

Right-wing Republicans in the Texas Lege have already filed a couple of bills to virtually put an end to in-state tuition rates for 16,000 undocumented students (DREAMers) who meet certain residency requirements.

HB 360, by Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, would require individuals to show proof of citizenship or lawful residency to apply for in-state tuition, in addition to meeting requirements outlined in the DREAM Act.

[…]

HB 209, filed by Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, eliminates certain provisions in the act under which individuals could qualify for in-state tuition, including the provision for people who graduated from high school in Texas.

Keough whines that in-state tuition is a “magnet” for immigrants.

I seriously doubt whole families are crossing treacherous territory for the express purpose of paying in-state tuition rather than international student rates. If anything, their first purpose is to establish themselves, get jobs, find housing, feed their families, etc. You know, what people do every day in Texas. Years later, after establishing residency, attending our public schools, and, yes, paying taxes, the least we can do is offer in-state tuition to these hard-working students. It’s a n0-brainer.

Obviously, there’s something else going on with these right-wingers than “saving tax dollars” and “protecting” the locals. The current rhetoric and the anti-immigrant amendment to the DHS budget passed on Wednesday to de-fund President Obama’s executive actions tell us a whole lot more.

They’re just bigots. Or else why would GOPers change their minds on a previously bipartisan measure signed by a GOPer governor?

Thankfully, President Obama has vowed to veto the federal measure if it gets to his desk. And hopefully, enough GOPers will vote against it to kill it in the Senate. (26 GOPers voted against it in the House.) Greg Abbott we’re not so sure about regarding killing the Texas DREAM Act.

Anyway, this is just one of the big fights on immigration and other issues that will surely show the world that Texas will dig itself into an even deeper hole, rather than lift itself based on its diversity and deep talent pool.

Eduardo Maldonado, a 21-year-old University of North Texas psychology major, was one of the dozens of dreamers at the rally.

“I’ve been here 17 years, and I consider myself American and Texan. I grew up here. This is who I am,” Maldonado told the Observer. “I deserve the chance to attend college.”

 

The Annual “There’s No Tejano on Go Tejano Day” Post

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I’m telling you. The HoustonRodeo has made it clear that rodeo scholarships don’t go to undocumented students (not even LPRs!), but they get non-Tejano (Mexican banda music) bands that attract sell-out crowds of undocumented folks (among others) for “Go Tejano Day” that bring in a ton of cash for the HoustonRodeo. Talk about getting screwed in all directions. “We’ll take your money, but your kids don’t get squat!”

The Tex-Mex music genre known as Tejano is not respected by the Rodeo. Hell, it’s not respected by corporate radio because what once brought in ad money by the millions had the life squeezed out of it by corporate radio and money-grubbing major record labels that flooded the market, instead of nurturing the best of the best. Nowadays, most Tejano bands release material on indy labels, they gain popularity through nightclub and internet radio DJs, (and bloggers) and go through the daily grunt work of managing and booking themselves around the state and the US. Still, they attract nice-sized crowds, especially when music festivals like Festival Chicano go on for three days at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The genre isn’t dead. It didn’t die when Selena was murdered. What died was the cash infusion into greedy corporations. The music continues!

Anyway, the DosCentavos boycott of the HoustonRodeo continues for another year. Get me real Tejano (Tex-Mex) music on the big stage and maybe I’ll ruin my Justin ropers steppin’ on cow poop at the rodeo. Otherwise…

Local legendary DJ Jumpin’ Jess had a thought on this, too.

For now, here’s Los Texmaniacs playing before thousands at two A Prairie Home Companion broadcasts in Flagstaff, AZ and St. Paul MN.

*Thanks to Jose Manuel Diaz for the awesome “No Tejano for Consuela” meme.

 

 

Save the Date: 02/09/2015 – Americans United ~ The Bible in Texas Schools? Why Not?

Americans United:  The Bible in Texas Schools? Why Not?

President Obama Proposes Free Community College

The key phrase here is, “…for those who work for it.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Today, the President unveiled a new proposal: Make two years of community college free for responsible students across America.

In our growing global economy, Americans need to have more knowledge and more skills to compete — by 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. Students should be able to get the knowledge and the skills they need without taking on decades’ worth of student debt.

Currently, in Texas, 1/3 of university students and 1/2 of community college students are deemed unprepared for college once they graduate from high school. If community college students work hard, earn a 2.5 GPA, attend at least half-time, students could save a whole bunch, while preparing themselves for university-level courses.

Is there a catch? According to the White House:

The requirements:

  • What students have to do: Students must attend community college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program.
  • What community colleges have to do: Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that are either 1) academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities, or 2) occupational training programs with high graduation rates and lead to in-demand degrees and certificates. Community colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes.
  • What the federal government has to do: Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. Participating states will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate the tuition for eligible students.

So, there are a couple of catches. The first one is that the participating colleges need to adopt institutional reforms to improve student outcomes. That said, and in a state like Texas, the colleges would need to put in some effort to help prepare students before they get into their transferable courses–tutoring programs, convenient course time availability for working students, proactive academic advising, etc. At least, that’s my thinking. It seems politicians of either party are so far off the mark when putting the onus on colleges to get students college-ready, and do little to fund K-12, which is where these students should be getting college-ready. There are some screwed-up priorities when it comes to education in Texas.

The second catch is that the Feds pay for 3/4 and the states pay the remaining funds to eliminate tuition. How that works in Texas, whose community colleges are locally controlled by elected boards, is still to be seen. Perhaps it’s through state financial aid. Still, states much choose to participate and with Texas ever-slipping backwards, and as some of my college professor friends have said, “I won’t hold my breath.”

Tech and Workforce Programs

Obviously, a good chunk of this would go to folks wanting to earn career certificates in tech and workforce programs. Many of these programs exist according to community needs, so, there will be a substantial benefit and return on the investment if students immediately fill jobs and become contributing members of the economy. Still, the state must choose to participate.

Something to consider is that many of these programs are too small–not enough seats and plenty of competition to enter the programs. Here in Texas, there is a huge nursing shortage. Back in 2005, my friend and former Express-News columnist Carlos Guerra wrote about the nursing shortage.

“Texas needs 34,000 more registered nurses to catch up to the national average…”

And that was in 2005. Some progress has been made, but if there is lack of support to grow these programs, by 2020 the shortage could number 70,000.

Obviously, there is much to think about. Certainly demand for all kinds of programs would increase with this kind of opportunity, but without available seats and investment from community college districts and other state funding beyond the tuition break, meeting employment needs would continue to be a challenge.

All of this said, anything that gives the next generation a break from tuition costs and student loans would be welcome.

 

 

Pronin: Selma~A Film of Our Time: A Review

by Art Pronin, Guest Blogger

I saw the much discussed film “Selma.” It is the first big screen motion picture to feature Martin Luther King-you read that right! It is one that will live you. Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Young, both who were part of the Selma march in 1965, provided much on-set input.  FBI recordings and notes are also utilized to provide a full picture. Directed by Ava DuVernay and starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Tom Wilkinson as President Johnson, and many women is small but memorable roles-such as Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper, Lorraine Toussaint as Amelia Boynton and Carmen Ejogo as Corretta Scott King, make for a highly emotional cinematic event.

The film is told through the vision of it’s director DuVernay, who is African American and a woman. She lovingly crafts a movie that focuses a movement that toppled the old order for a better nation, lead by a great man.

“Selma” opens with King accepting the Nobel Peace Prize of 1964.  He returns home to black churches being bombed and the urgent need to let African Americans vote.  MLK and LBJ wrangle over passing a voting rights bill. LBJ who wants blacks to vote, tells King he needs wait on such a bill given the Great Society programs needed more time to lift folks out of poverty. LBJ assures King he will get the voting bill, but not yet.  So MLK takes his SCLC team to Selma, a place which had been organized for years for the fight to vote.

In Selma we meet many Americans whose names we should all know, but do not. Watching Annie Lee Cooper-played by Oprah-trying and trying to be registered to vote is hearbreaking.  We see the risk King took to go down there, for as soon as he arrives he is punched in the face by a white man off the street.

We find MLK had a complex set of internal issues within the movement, such as with SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinated Committee) and John Lewis. Then there is Malcolm X who King’s wife Corretta meets with just weeks before his murder to try and broker a peace.

DuVernay shows us a MLK who is a human being with vices. One vice is his affairs. And the FBI makes sure she is tormented with detailed knowledge of some of these, which is illustrated hauntingly in a brilliant scene.  The director also shows his greatness in oratory and knack for knowing how to push politicians and citizens into acting. We see a MLK who had real fears, a man who stood in horror having to watch his fellow protestors being beaten at the Selma courthouse, and time and again be told of a fellow in the cause being murdered.  It is a moving portrait and a service to the viewer.

The march from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote is done in a sweeping fashion in the movie. Hundreds gather and march across the Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” to do just that and are brutally beaten and some killed- on live national television. A national crisis ensues, with LBJ in the film urging MLK to back off a bit and Governor Wallace refusing to yield one inch. Finally a judge intercedes and orders MLK and marchers to be able have their march.

Once MLK crosses that bridge with thousands from all over America of all races, and the soul of nation is moved, he speaks at the state capitol steps. And, thanks to Oyelowo’s bravado performance, we see a powerhouse speech that rushes through your veins. It is here where we get to see what happened to these many people we got to know for two hours, and yes many are shown to have lost their lives, including MLK.

The film has received I believe unfair criticism over how LBJ is shown.  Some say LBJ is portrayed as a bit too unfeeling toward the cause and dismissive at times. For me I watched and cheered Johnson as he showed disgust with the likes of Hoover and Wallace. The audience applauded when he told Wallace what he was and which side of history to be on.  LBJ deserves his own film from Hollywood showing all he did to move this country forward, but this one is dedicated to MLK and the African Americans in Selma and their brave struggle. Let us recall that this is a movie, not a PBS documentary.

This movie’s timing, as America finds itself with voting rights being stripped and injustices being committed in places like Ferguson and New York, makes it so relevant. The directing by Ava DuVernay is on par with any other great director of cinema. The acting is very memorable, and provides this cast a rare chance to shine in a industry which affords rare spotlight for African Americans.

Selma focuses on the power of non-violent movements and how they can change things for the better. Make sure you, your children, friends and family all see this brilliantly made piece of work. This is our time’s most important film.

Art Pronin is a Houston Democratic activist and avid fan of films.

Lalo Alcaraz Wows ‘Em at Talento Bilingue

 

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I saw Lalo at his last stop in Houston–at HCC Downtown–in September. The thing about listening to a lecture and slideshow from a editorial cartoonist is that the material is always fresh. Last night, Lalo Alcaraz dedicated his presentation at Talento Bilingue de Houston to the four cartoonists who were murdered in Paris. The drawing below was already featured on the BBC last night– hours after he drew it while flying into Houston.

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Of the violent day in Paris, Alcaraz stated that he’s gotten used to receiving death threats and racist hate mail from folks in this country incensed by his works, but he’s still thankful to be in the US.

The presentation itself took us through some other current events, including Ayotzinapa, Mexico; Lalo’s latest work on Bordertown, which will be part of Fox’s Fall Line-up; and news that he is working on developing a series that mirrors his childhood. On top of that, a slide-show featuring some of his work from his strip, LA Cucaracha and some of his more popular editorial cartoons. Lalo takes his presentation to Austin on Thursday, January 8, next.

Beyond his presentation, Lalo enjoys meeting with fans, especially young fans. Among his more popular works is one that hangs on the wall of Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, which features his daughter playing “judge” with her stuffed animals, while looking up to the newest justice.

lalosonia

That was definitely a popular print last night. And the Berkeley grad (Lalo) is definitely a role model for young kids as several came with their parents and posed with the cartoonist. Added to the usual advice given to young folks was something equally important:  Always sign your name to anything you draw.

Big kudos to the folks at Talento Bilingue de Houston and the Houston Arts Alliance for bringing Lalo to Houston for another visit.

By the way, another hot seller was his 2015 Calendar. Get yours today!

 

 

 

Houston, We Have A Podcast! (Again)

 

 

micsRey Guerra and I have re-started our podcast series which is now known as the DosCentavos Podcast. If you recall, we started a series last year in which we talked about local and state politics, chisme, and other happenings. Our test-run did so well, we thought we’d try it again.

On 2015’s first podcast, Rey and I take on the beginnings of what will be a busy 2015 City of Houston election season. We talk about the Mayoral and City Council races that some folks are already talking about and lend our opinions on these races. Stay connected as the campaign season is just starting. There will be more talk and chisme in the future about campaigns and a whole lot more.

Enjoy!