Category Archives: Media

May 15-19, 2019: 38th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival

It’s that time of year again. The 38th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, the biggest conjunto festival in the world is set to launch in a couple of weeks in San Antonio and the list of performers and activities does not disappoint.

The fest begins on May 15 with a Seniors Dance at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Theater at 1301 Guadalupe featuring Eddie “Lalo” Torres y su Conjunto. The dance is FREE! There will also be a screening of Chulas Fronteras, a documentary film about Texas conjunto music and its history.

On May 16, the newest inductees into the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame will be presented at the Guadalupe Theater. This year’s inductees include Norfy Layton, Lorenzo Martinez, and Pepe Maldonado.

But it’s May 17-19 which will have the most activity at SA’s Rosedale Park at 303 Dartmouth. The three-day concert series includes some of the best conjuntos in the business.  Get your tickets here. Here’s the schedule:

Friday, May 17, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
5:30pm-Midnight
$16 daily admission
5:30pm Opening Ceremonies
6:00pm Flavio Longoria Conjunto Kings
7:00pm Los D Boyz
8:00pm Rio Jordan
9:00pm Los Cucuys de Rodney Rodriguez
10:00pm Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers
11:00pm Los Garcia Bros
AFTERPARTY: FAR WEST @ 2502 Pleasanton Rd, San Antonio, TX 78221

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
12:00pm-12:00am
$16 daily admission
12:00pm Conjunto Student Showcase
3:20pm Cristina y Los Latinos
4:00pm Robert Casillas and Company
5:00pm JR Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits
6:00pm Los Morales Boyz
7:00pm Los Leones de Alberto Solis
8:00pm Los Tremendos V
9:00pm Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Diaz
10:00pm Conjunto Califas
11:00pm Lazaro Perez y su Conjunto
AFTERPARTY: BOSMANS @ 672 Elks Dr, San Antonio, TX 78211

Sunday, May 19, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
12:00-11:00pm
$16 daily admission
12:00pm Conjunto Student Showcase
2:00pm Los Hermanos Tellez
3:00pm Konjunto Kompaz
4:00pm Tejano RoZe
5:00pm Linda Escobar y Su Tremendo Conjunto
6:00pm Eva Ybarra y su Conjunto
7:00pm Los Texmaniacs featuring Flaco Jimenez
8:00pm Ruben De La Cruz y su Conjunto
9:00pm Tony Tigre y la Rosa de Oro
10:00pm Los Palominos
AFTERPARTY: THE SQUEEZEBOX @ 2806 N. St. Mary’s
San Antonio, Texas 78212

 

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Leslie Contreras Schwartz Chosen as Houston’s Poet Laureate

Congrats to Leslie Contreras Schwartz! Here’s the press release from Mayor Sylvester Turner making the announcement:

Writer Leslie Contreras Schwartz has been selected as Houston’s fourth poet laureate, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson announce today.

Her two-year term begins now, as National Poetry Month comes to an end. Schwartz was selected through a competitive application and interview process by a panel of literary experts.

Mayor Turner made the final selection. The poet laureate receives a $20,000 honorarium for the two-year term, funded by the City of Houston Hotel Occupancy Tax dedicated to the arts.

Contreras Schwartz will work closely with the Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs to carry out her community outreach project focusing on outreach to people with mental illness and mental health workers. She will also conduct eight workshops in partnership with Houston Public Library and mentor the Houston Youth Poet Laureate.

“The appointment speaks to the great work that this poet has done and will do as an ambassador of the City though poetry,” Mayor Turner said. “Houston will be well represented by Leslie through workshops and outreach work in non-traditional communities.”

The Poet Laureate program celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a poet who creates excitement about the written and spoken word as well as outreach activities, special programs, teaching and their individual works. The role of the Poet Laureate is to stimulate poetic impulse, foster appreciation of poetry in all its forms, and serve Houston residents and visitors with expressions of culture through words.

“The Houston Public Library congratulates Leslie Contreras Schwartz on becoming Houston’s fourth Poet Laureate and joins the mayor in recognizing her invaluable talent. Contreras Schwartz will bring her passion and extensive knowledge of poetry and writing to Houston’s communities,” said Lawson. “We are excited about working with her on a diverse spectrum of literacy programs that will instill the love of poetry and writing for children, teens and adults alike around the city.”

“As a native Houstonian whose family has deep roots in the city since the early 1900s, I am deeply honored to be named an ambassador for poetry in the city I love and call home,” said Leslie Contreras Schwartz. “I have dedicated my adult life to studying, reading, and writing poetry, and am excited to share this passion. My outreach plan will focus on using writing to improve mental health, particularly among non-traditional and underserved communities.”

She is a poetry editor at Four Way Review and works as a lecturer at the University of Houston. She is a graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and earned a bachelor’s degree at Rice University.

Contreras Schwartz says her work examines the individual versus public bodies and documents experiences and narratives of those usually silenced, such as people with mental illness, sex workers, women who are trafficked, or children in custody.

Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, The Collagist, [PANK], Verse Daily, The Texas Review, Catapult, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her new collection of poems, Nightbloom & Cenote (St. Julian Press, May 2018), was a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky. In 2018, she was a featured poet for the Houston Poetry Fest. Her fiction will be included in Houston Noir, edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda (Akashic Press, May 2019).

Before ‘‘passing the pen’’ to Contreras Schwartz, the outgoing laureate, Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton, is launching her community outreach project, a multi-video series of performance poetry celebrating neighborhoods of the City. These videos can be found on the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Facebook & YouTube Pages and will be throughout the coming weeks. The first can be found: https://youtu.be/B-o76Pxz1gs

About the Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.

About the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs develops policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. Learn more at http://www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs and follow us on Facebook & Instagram. Find fun stuff on Houston’s Cultural Events Calendar.

An Interesting Poll of Brown Folks

NALEO and Latino Decisions have just released a poll on where Latinos stand as the presidential primary gets going. And the results are not surprising–at all.

Latinos are paying attention to the Democratic primary  process and no one candidate is the de facto Latino candidate. The top five with the highest favorables are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and Kamala Harris. The poll also shows that Latinos feel that Dems are mostly doing a good job in speaking to Latino voters, while Trump and the Republicans are mostly hostile to Latinos. But Dems still need to work on it–a lot.

In regards to issues, it is health care, wages, immigrant rights, job creation, and stopping Trump’s agenda among the issues of which Latinos are more concerned. As always, immigrant rights may not be the top issue, but it is an issue that affects the Latino community, whether it is about the immigration and detention process or about the racism that is emboldened by Trump and Republicans. One way or another, all of the issues are intertwined.

In fact, 72% of Latinos want Obamacare to stay in effect, while 77% of Latinos also believe that migrants are not a threat and should be allowed through the asylum process. And Latinos respond negatively in high numbers to Trump.

Democrats have a real opportunity for Latino engagement and communication, as always, They just need to want to do it. Considering California and Texas are among the first states to decide on who should be the Democratic candidate, it would seem that small states like Iowa are still the “go-to” states for candidates and it is quite annoying. And it’s an easy way to escape a major portion of the list of issues Latinos deem important. You know, like immigration. The other side is certainly attacking–in rhetoric and policy.

On immigration, I’ve only heard good things from Julian Castro, who has an actual plan, and Bernie Sanders, who has a nice list of policy pronouncements. although Sanders hasn’t been artful in communicating against the Republican “open borders” attack. Frankly, this is an attack that all of the Democrats need to learn to combat. The Republicans are too good at spreading racism and hatred and this poll shows that fact, as well. Latinos are obviously tired of Republican racism.

Thanks to NALEO and Latino Decisions for putting out this poll. I do suggest that a “Latino debate” be held in California or Texas as the Florida one doesn’t excite me at all.

2019 Houston Mayor, Council Races Shaping Up

Big thanks to Erik Manning of the Sharpstown Dems for keeping a list of incumbents and candidates up-to-date as many of us start thinking about the local election to be held in November.

The Mayoral race will be cause for a lot of ad buys and excitement on the ground–most of the money will be in this race. The open seat in District B has a growing list of prospects. The open seat being vacated by term-limited Ellen Cohen in District C will also be cause for a lot of activity and money flying around. District F’s right-winger Steve Le will hopefully get a good challenge by at least one of the candidates in what is usually a low turnout race–I really need a new council member. District J, some call it the newest Latino council district (out of 3 only 1 is brown), has a chance to actually a elect a brown person, although, the voting population is diverse and any candidate will be required to play well with all of the communities.

There are a couple of at-large races that are getting exciting, too. I’ve made my choice in At-Large 1 hoping that Raj Salhotra can work past a couple of perennial candidates and anyone else who signs up to unseat Mike Knox. There are several candidates who will try to unseat Kubosh in At-Large 3, thus far. And it seems like the entire city is running for At-Large 5, which is finally being vacated by term-limited Jack Christie (he seems to have been there forever!). Surely, there will be more signing up for all of the races before the deadline. I have no favorites in the latter two races, though. I don’t care how much money one is raising, it is sincerity, ideas, and a little bit of retail politics which earns my support early. If  one is good, the money will come. So, I’ll be keeping an eye out.

This is just an early look and a reminder that we have a very important election in November. We need to do a lot better than low double-digit turnout. And we need to be smart about our choices–getting through the bullshit that will surely be well-financed by special interests and wealthy candidates. Although the activity of people signing up seems exciting, it’s the work of the candidates that will make it exciting (and for incumbents, their actions).

I’ll have more on the individual races in the future. For now, enjoy finding out more about the candidates! Click here to see the list of candidates.

 

March 14-17: Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2019

The Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) is hosting its annual Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair at San Antonio’s Market Square. The 4-day event attracts over 100,000 Tejano Music aficionados from across the US and around the globe to enjoy the sounds of over 200 bands on various stages throughout the Square. The event is free.

Along with concerts, food, drink, and vendor booths, fans will also get the chance to meet their favorite musicians at autograph sessions.

The Tejano Music Awards continues to shine each year by producing the largest Tejano Music events in the country. Scheduled to perform this year Michael Salgado, Elida Reyna y Avante, Shelly Lares, Stefani Montiel, Hometown Boys, Isabel Marie, Sunny Sauceda, Fama,La Calma, David Farias, Eddie Gonzalez, Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers, Joe Bravo, Avizo, Rio Jordan, Da Krazy Pimpz, Boni Mauricio, Bajo Sexto, Los Garcias Brothers, Massore Erick y Su Grupo Massore, Augustine Ramirez , Massore, Cindy Ramos, Baraja De Oro, Monterrey Project, Tony “Tigre” Saenz, Veronica & The Puro Party Jam, Ernestine Romero,  Stevie D & The All-Star Cast , JR Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits, JT y Sus Criminalez, Magali De La Rosa, Masizzo, Grupo Vida, Tejano Roze y La Nueva Sensacion, Stampede and many more.

For more information and the official schedule, visit the Tejano Music Awards website. And enjoy your stay at the Capital of Tejano Music.

Julian Castro Begins 2020 Campaign From SAs West Side

Thousands of supporters were welcomed by live mariachi music and were sent off with Selena’s music over the loudspeakers at a powerful kick-off for the  presidential campaign of Texas son and former Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro.

In making his announcement, Castro listed a progressive platform which included Medicare for All, Green New Deal, fixing the immigration system (no wall and yes to family reunification), jobs creation, supporting early education and workforce education, justice/bail reform, and equality and equity. Offering the exact opposite of Trump and the Republicans, Castro set a high bar for the rest of the coming field of Democrats.

As a Texas Mexican, along with many fellow Texas Mexicans, I can say we’ve been waiting a long time for a Chicano candidate with South Texas roots. Given his appointment to the Obama administration and his trajectory in politics, I didn’t know what to expect from his announcement, but I’m glad that, thus far, he seems to be running on his own platform and not one created for him by some moderate think tank.

That said, there is no doubt he will have naysayers; however, those saying he’s too young/too inexperienced have now switched gears to finger pointing on one  particular thing Castro was in charge of while he was running President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development–dismissing a housing lawsuit against the City of Dallas. One must ask these particular naysayers, though:  Where does the buck stop in the Obama administration?

One other issue that will get some attention is where Castro lands on the issue of the PROMESA bill, which created a US-appointed and unelected oversight board for Puerto Rico, a process to restructure debt (bankruptcy) in Puerto Rico, and placed austerity measures on Puerto Rico, thus, cutting its public service budget. With the US in charge of this, public services could easily be privatized, while its budget would be reallocated to pay debt. After a destructive hurricane, the future of Puerto Rico is at stake, and those more interested in protecting creditors and creating wealth for millionaires, rather than protecting and serving the people, could only make things worse.

NOTE:  Lots of Democrats were on their way to Puerto Rico to discuss the latest on this, while also catching a show by PROMESA supporter, Lin-Manuel Miranda. I believe Julian Castro is included on the guest list and his brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro voted for PROMESA, despite opposition from the people of Puerto Rico and his colleague Congressman Luis Gutierrez (Puerto Rican).

Offering up such a progressive campaign platform, Castro shouldn’t be promising great things for America, while sticking a fork in Puerto Rico’s future. I hope that Castro (both of them) will come to their senses on Puerto Rico and call for reform of PROMESA.

Otherwise, Julian has the best platform I’ve seen from a candidate at this level in a long time. His speech delivery and the energy he received in return is something I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’ve been a fan of the Castros and I identify with their struggle, as do many Chicanos. For all candidates, though, if you run on struggle, it still must match up with policies.

As attacks on Julian Castro will escalate, we will be hearing more about other 2020 prospects. Whether it’s Kamala Harris’ jailing of poor moms because of their kid’s truancy; Klobuchar’s selling out on border wall; Joe Biden being, well,  Joe Biden; and the list will go on, Democrats will get to choose among candidates who have some bad marks. I just want to say ahead of time that criticism should not be thrown only at Julian Castro.

Thus far, given the names announced and talked about, and consideration of bad/good points of these prospects, Julian Castro remains at the top of my list. For Castro, wins in Nevada, California, and Texas would be huge, and my friends in those states are already excited about him.

Still, 2019 is just as important and we must vote in local elections, too.

 

Chicano Political Prisoner Ramsey Muñiz Released

Although I had heard through activist friends that Ramsey Muñiz had been released in mid-December, the AP finally reported his release from federal prison a month later.

Muñiz, a policy-saavy, charismatic, well-spoken, Baylor-educated lawyer, was La Raza Unida Party’s 1972 gubernatorial candidate. It was those qualities he effectively utilized to put a scare into the Texas Democratic Party by earning over 210,000 votes in a three-way race which almost ended the career of Dolph Briscoe and Democratic power in Texas. The usual historians write it off as Muñiz only garnering 6% of the vote, but it was 210,000 Chicanos who united in calling out the Democratic Party for their lack of respect of the people.

Although La Raza Unida had achieved much in various South Texas counties and even fielded candidates in Houston and Harris County, it was this venture into Texas politics that helped earn it a special place in Texas political history. LRU even fielded a Chicana for Lt. Governor. And it also caused a change in the way Democrats treated Chicanos in Texas–some might say, at least on the surface.

During the time, as Chicano scholar Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez found out through FOIA requests, the FBI targeted various Chicano activists through surveillance and other methods. Chicano political activity was constantly under attack and effectiveness was always challenged because those in power would never allow for shared political power with Chicanos. Gutierrez has a new book coming out in March in which he details the surveillance of the Democrats’ favorite brown person, Cesar Chavez.

It is said that Muñiz was among those targeted when in 1976 he was charged federally with attempting to smuggle marijuana into the US from Mexico. After pleading guilty to one count and being sentenced for 5 years, La Raza Unida Party lost popularity and died a slow death, while Democrats picked up what was left of Chicano activists who were salvageable for political purposes. Later, he’d be charged two more times, thus given a mandatory life sentence in federal prison.

Many believed Muñiz to be a political prisoner imprisoned on false charges, forced to plead out in order to save himself from long-term sentences on the first two charges.

A mandatory life sentence from a 1994 charge, though, is what caused him to reside at Leavenworth the last 24 years. Yes, a military prison for what are small-time charges compared to cartels and major drug dealers. Like other prisoners deemed to be imprisoned for political reasons, he requested early release from Presidents, including Obama, only to be denied. Because of failing health and age, he was finally released on December 10, 2018.

There is little doubt that the burgeoning activism in the Chicano community of the time was demoralized by those in power. That voting and activism in the community was at an all-time high during the time only to be cut off at the knees perhaps shows why Chicano voting patterns have taken decades to improve. No doubt, there is a lack of trust of anyone in power and with good reason. We are seeing similar responses to recently elected Latinos with strong opinions–just a thought.

Anyway, I’m glad that Mr. Muñiz is home with his wife, Irma, whom I met in 2003 at a conference I helped coordinate at Texas State University. She and a close circle of friends never gave up on achieving his release. And he’ll always be considered one of my influences as far as political communication is concerned.

Check Out Little Joe’s San Antonio [VIDEO]

The title track of Little Joe y La Familia’s recent album San Antonio has been offered up as a music video for the masses, thanks to Lupe Moya and LM Media Solutions. What is a gift to the city from the Grammy winning Chicano icon is a horn-heavy ballad dedicated to the various attractions and the welcoming spirit of San Antonio. San Antonio’s multicultural atmosphere is known worldwide and Little Joe catches it all in the tune and the video. The rest of the album is pretty awesome, too. Check it out:

Albert Peña Bio by Jose Angel Gutierrez Wins Best Biography

Congrats to one of my favorite mentors, Chicano scholars, and one of my dad’s old customers at Medellin’s Texaco in Cristal, Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez, on winning Best Biography at the 20th Annual Latino Book Awards for Albert A. Peña, Jr., Dean of Chicano Politics.

My 2006 post of Peña’s obit continues to earn traffic. Along with fighting for school desegration in the 50’s, Peña’s history includes having defended activist Angela Davis in 1972, which was cause for him to lose re-election to the Bexar County Commissioner’s Court because of Davis’ Communist Party affiliation. Davis was recently in Houston for a UH speaking engagement.

Here’s the full press release:

The 1st place winner in the category of author of the Best Biography in the Non-fiction Awards section of the 20th International Latino Book Awards Ceremony held on the California State University Dominguez Hills campus in Carson City, California on September 8, 2018 was Crystal City, Texas native, Jose Angel Gutierrez.

He is best known as the last standing member of the Four Horsemen of the Chicano Movement. Dr. Gutierrez has written over a dozen books and is Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas Arlington as well as a practicing attorney in Dallas, Texas. He now resides in Redlands, CA.

This first-place winning biography is about the life of San Antonio native Albert A. Peña, Jr., former Bexar County Commissioner. He is the famous icon of the Chicano Movement era for his political acumen, vision in founding so many of our current institutions such as Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, National Council of la Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Presenting the award to Dr.  Gutierrez was none other than Dr. Julian Nava, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico during the President Jimmy Carter years and author in his own right.

The packed-house event featured some of the most creative and brilliant Chicano and other Latino authors of our time. Some winners were repeat honorees, but many were first-timers in the fifteen categories for entries.  This awards ceremony is the largest of its kind featuring authors, illustrators, translators, and publishers of books in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

It is organized annually by the non-profit organization Latino Literacy Now led by Kirk Whisler and Hollywood actor Edward James Olmos.

The winning book is titled Albert A. Peña, Jr. Dean of Chicano Politics and published by Michigan State University Press in 2017 as part of the Latinos in the United States Series, editor Dr. Ruben Martinez of the Julian Samora Research Institute.

Inbox: Congressional Battleground Poll on Immigration Policy

From the inbox:

Washington, DC – Today, experts released new battleground poll results conducted by Latino Decisions – on behalf of America’s Voice, Mi Familia Vota, Indivisible, NAACP, and AAPI Civic Engagement Fund – of Latino, Asian American, African American, Native American, and White likely voters in 61 districts across the United States.

Resources

Voters of every race are upset and angry over the child separation and detention policy, by large margins. Even conservatives are opposed to the child detention policies and it makes them angry.  Overall 73% of voter in battleground House districts say they are angry about the child separations at the border.

There is a strong majority against Trump’s strict immigration policies and instead in support of welcoming immigration policies. 79% want to see the Dream Act passed, while only 36% think the Trump border wall is a good idea. By a 2-1 margin, every racial group opposes child detention policies, and the same goes for 2-1 opposition to ending domestic violence protections for asylum seekers.

Strong majorities agree that immigrants just want to provide a better life for their families.When confronted with competing messages on immigration, 61% of whites, and over 75% of Latinos, AAPIs and African Americans agreed that immigrants just want to provide a better life for their families, just like you and me, and support legislation to make America more welcoming to immigrants. Only a minority of voters agreed with the conservative narrative that immigrants are taking jobs away from real Americans and hurting our economy.

Voters of all races and ethnicities think Trump is increasing division and racial hostility. In 2016, it was just campaign rhetoric. Now, it is 18 months of living through his ugly rhetoric and his policies. Overall 60% think Trump has had a negative or racist impact on minorities, only 22% think he has been positive. A majority of every racial group agrees with this, including whites.

Finally, the poll reports overwhelming support for themes of unity and inclusion. Voters are tired of hostility, attacks, and division. Over 85% of all voters agreed with this statement: “Today, certain politicians and their greedy lobbyists hurt everyone by handing kickbacks to the rich, de-funding our schools, and threatening our seniors with cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Then they turn around and point the finger for our hard times at poor families, Black people, and new immigrants. We need to join together with people from all walks of life to fight for our future.”