Category Archives: RIP

RIP: Manuel Juarez, My Uncle and Padrino

My Godfather (and Uncle) Manuel Juarez passed away last week and a celebration of his life will be held this coming week in Joliet, IL. I grew up hearing about his (and my Godmother Mary Medellin Juarez) work in LULAC and in the Latino community of Joliet and Illinois. He and my Madrina always put their family first–as well as an extended family of nieces, nephews, Godkids, and friends. He will be missed.


Juarez, Manuel “Grandpa” Age 79, passed away Wednesday, October 24 at his home, surrounded by his family. Born in Staples, Texas on June 15, 1933 and raised in San Marcos, Texas.

“Manny” retired from Caterpillar Inc. after 35 years of dedicated service. He lived in Joliet for the past 56 years. Manuel attended San Marcos High School until he dropped out to help his support his family. He was drafted into the Army and served our country from 1953-1955 with a tour of duty in Korea. After he was Honorably Discharged he obtained his GED and attended Southwest Texas State College, currently known as Texas State University San Marcos. He was hired in 1956 by Caterpillar Inc. He was encouraged by management to serve his community. He stressed education to all and detested racism, of which he had endured.

He was a member of LULAC and founded Joliet Council 502. As a member of LULAC, he was Joliet Council President from 1964-1967; State Director from 1968-1971; Illinois Man of the Year from 1966-1967, 1969, 1971, 1985, 1989-1991; National Man of the Year 1971-1972; National Vice-President for Midwest Region; and received an Achievement Award by LULAC President Pete Villa. He belonged or served the following organizations: Organized Night Language Classes for Adults (1966); Organized Pre-School Summer Program for Children (1966); City of Joliet Mayor’s Citizens Advisory Commission (1966-1968); Joliet Community Relations Commission (1968); Latin American Social Club (1969); Will-Grundy County Comprehensive Health Commission Board of Directors (1969); White House Conference on Youth (1969); Founded Joliet Migrant Summer Program (1969); Joliet Migrant Summer Program Board of Directors (1969); Spanish Center Board of Directors and Executive Director (1974); SER Jobs for Progress National Board Member (1978); Illinois Board of Directors East Side CAP; St. Joseph Day Care Center Board of Directors; First Male PTA President of Lincoln and Parks Grade Schools; Joliet Grade School District 86 Bilingual Advisory Council; Joliet Township High School District 204 Advisory Council; Operation PUSH Board of Directors; United Way Board of Directors; While working with the United Way, he was instrumental in obtaining funding to start Joliet Area Community Hospice; Joliet-Will County Commission Action Agency Board of Directors and Vice-President. He received the following awards: Joliet Jaycees Man of the Year (1968); Joliet Jaycees Distinguished Service Award; Outstanding Young Men of America (1970); Joliet Community Relations Commission Community Service Award (1973); PTA Life Membership (1973); Good Citizen of the Month City of Joliet (January, 1976); Spanish Center Exceptional Board Member (1978); Country of Mexico Federacion Mexicana de Lucha de Aficianados (1982); Department of Justice F.B.I. Outstanding Service Award (1989); Caterpillar Inc. Outstanding Volunteer Community Service (1991); Spanish Community Center Outstanding Service Award (2012). He was a 50-year parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel /Church. He founded the Mt. Carmel Credit Union. He received the Mt. Carmel Parish Council Church Award in 1977 and 1980. He was the long-time bookkeeper for the church.

Manuel worked hard for his community yet always made time for his family.

Loving father of Maria Juarez (Greg) Mendoza, Antonio (Helen nee Rangel) Juarez, and Rosa Juarez; proud grandfather of Angelica (Bryan Niedermeyer) Juarez, Manuel (Nikki Martinez) Mendoza, Jesse and AJ Juarez; great-grandfather of Nicolette Juarez, Donte Plese, Aiden Mendoza and Tristan Salinas; caring brother to Frances Juarez, Victoria (late Luther) Sowards, Gloria (late Yesidro) Garcia, Mary (late Juan Munoz) Juarez and Mauricio Juarez; sisters-in-law Florencia and Olivia Medellin; brothers-in-law Manuel (Bea) Medellin and Manuel (Regina) Cerna. Grandfather figure to many, especially the Hernandez, Gutierrez, Garcia, Rodriguez, and Guerrero families; godfather of 33 and numerous nieces and nephews along with his beloved pet Chihuahua, Petunia.

He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 45 and one-half years, Mary (nee Medellin); his parents Ascencion and Julia (nee Tristan) Juarez; brothers Aurelio, Roberto, Sergeant Mateo Juarez Killed in Action in Vietnam and Juan (infancy); sisters Teresa (late Juan)Ortiz, Annie, Guadalupe (infancy) and Juanita Isabel (infancy); in-laws Manuel and Antonia (nee Reyes) Medellin; brothers-in-law Olegario (late Josefina), Anastacio and Joaquin Medellin; sister-in-law Concepcion (late Gilbert) Garcia and Jose Luis Reyes, whom he helped raise.

Special thanks to his long-time care taker and daughter-in-law, Helen.

Funeral arrangements in care of: DELGADO FUNERAL CHAPEL, 400 Landau Ave. at Jackson St., Joliet, Il. 60432 (815) 774-9220. Family will receive friends at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 205 E. Jackson Street, Joliet, IL, on Monday, October 29, 2012 from 3:00-8:00 PM (NOT AT FUNERAL CHAPEL). Final visitation will be at 9:30 AM with a Mass of Christian burial at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, October 30, 2012. Interment following at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, Elwood, IL scheduled for 1:00 PM. Contributions in his memory can be made to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Building Fund and to the Joliet Area Community Hospice.

Public Events in Remembrance of Senator Mario V. Gallegos Announced

  • Friday the 19th in Austin, Senate Chamber, Texas Capitol: the Senator’s body will lie in state beginning at 2 pm, with a celebration of his life beginning at 3 pm.
  • Sunday the 21st in Houston, UH Cullen Performance Hall: visitation begins at 4pm, with a Rosary beginning at 6:30 pm.
  • Monday the 22nd in Houston, Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral, 1701 San Jacinto: Funeral Mass beginning at 9:30 am.
  • The burial ceremony in Houston is a private family-only event.

R.I.P. – Texas Senator Mario V. Gallegos

The first Hispanic State Senator to represent Harris County, State Senator Mario V. Gallegos, Jr. passed away today surrounded by family members and friends at Methodist Hospital in Houston.

Senator Gallegos was a fighter for his constituents, as well as folks like me who he didn’t necessarily represent. Outspoken, yet a true political tactician on the issues that mattered most to him, Gallegos accomplished much as a State Senator and as a State Representative, leaving behind a progressive record of fighting for those who have been so easily targeted by political forces. In fact, along with his District record, he will be remembered for putting his life on the line in order to be a decisive vote against the 2007 attempt at a Voter ID law.

Gallegos was an outspoken opponent of voter ID laws. In 2007, as the Senate prepared to vote on a bill that would have required Texas voters to show photo ID, Gallegos set up a hospital bed outside the Senate chambers so he could be present to oppose the bill while recovering from a recent liver transplant.

“It’s very important to me,” he said at the time. “I think my constituents feel strongly about this. As long as I can stand, I need to be here.”

And many of us who were not his constituents cheered him on, too. And I consider myself lucky to have personally thanked him for fighting on behalf of Latinos everywhere.

Today, we remember State Senator Mario Gallegos, but we must also thank him for his service. He serves as another example of how Latinos should fight for our community.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, colleagues, and his constituents.


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3rd Centavo: In Remembrance of Senator Carlos Truan

by Dr. Rudy Rodriguez

Editor’s Note:  There have been many memorial statements from friends and colleagues of the late Texas Senator Carlos Truan who passed away yesterday. I came upon this one which goes to the heart of bilingual education by a Professor on the subject. Please read…

After 34 years of service in the Texas Legislature and soon after his retirement from the Senate, I interviewed Sen. Carlos Truán for the Journal of the Texas Association for Bilingual Education (Spring 1998, Vol. 4).  I asked him what influenced you to commit so much energy and expend so much political capital in support of bilingual ed.  He said:

…I will never forget one incident at the Stephen F. Austin Elementary School in Kingsville. I remember in the playground I called out to my friend to throw me the ball – Aviéntame la pelota.  I will never forget the teacher’s scathing reprimand:  “You are speaking Spanish, go to the principal’s office”…  Everyday there was a long line of students, all Mexican Americans, in front of the principal’s office waiting to be punished for speaking Spanish.

Sen. Truán’s convictions, courage and vision for a school experience free of oppression and discrimination for all Mexican American/Latino children will long be remembered as the hallmark of his career and fundamental to the work that led to the enactment of the first bilingual education law in Texas, also known as S.B. 121. The law, authored by Sen. Truán in 1973, effectively and forever did away with the highly punitive English – only requirement in public education. Equally significant, it removed the stigma associated with the use of Spanish in the schools.

Further in the interview, I asked what advice he had for bilingual educators: “we need to be forever vigilant about protecting the gains we’ve made in education…don’t be afraid to take a stance when our values and beliefs are challenged (and always do) what is right for our children.”

Dr. Rudy Rodriguez is a Professor in the College of Education at the University of North Texas and serves as a Trustee on the Denton ISD Board of Trustees.

RIP- Shaun (DJ) Chapa

It’s been a somber week. As I began my work-day yesterday, I noticed my UNT-alumni primo, John, post something on the Facebook about a guy he didn’t even know, but whose work he had known. And the shock and sadness overcame the day, because, I did know the guy–even for a short time.

The passing of an intelligent, young activist in La Causa is never expected, and the passing of Shaun Chapa has indeed sent shockwaves through the University of North Texas community and beyond. This obit says what you should know about him.

Shaun was a graduate student in the Anthropology Department and graduated with a Bachelors in 2008. He was a member of Lambda Theta Phi, MUEVE and was recently named the Multicultural Greek Council Man of the Year.
Shaun leaves an extensive legacy of contributions to UNT, the discipline of Anthropology, and the greater Denton Community. His Master’s research about Latino/a undocumented youth will be published in a volume about Latino/a education. This work was also recently presented at the Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meetings and was accepted in a session for the American Educational Research Association meetings which will take place in Canada later this month.

Through Lamda Theta Phi and MUEVE Shaun worked to raise awareness about the challenges faced by Latinos/as while also forging coalitions with other Greek and student organizations. As a DJ Shaun used his art to support the work of student and community organizations. His talents allowed him to share his passion and commitment while giving to others.

His young daughter and the many, many hearts and minds of individuals, particularly young people, he touched along the way will miss him dearly. Those of us who had the privilege to know him will remember him as a true warrior-a loving father and intellectual humanitarian.

Along with being a Marine, Shaun was also an accomplished DJ–all sorts of music. He even provided services to the Denton County Democratic Women for one of their events. So, needless to say, he impacted a lot of lives in one way or another and he will be missed by many.

My thoughts go out to his little girl, Elexcia, his family, and his girlfriend, Soraya.

Shaun Chapa–PRESENTE!

(Funeral home obituary)

RIP: Erasmo Andrade

There were so many good people involved in the movimiento, especially in my hometown of Crystal City. The movement brought many unsung heroes and sheroes to my little town. Cristal became a sort of laboratory for progressive Chicano thought and action. So, when my friend, playwright Gregg Barrios, sent along word of Erasmo Andrade’s passing, it was a reminder of another unsung hero.

After an honorable discharge as a Machinist Mate III, he graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations. He subsequently earned his Juris Doctorate from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston. As a young professional, Erasmo taught English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) to military officers at Lackland Air Force Base. He subsequently spent three years in Turkey and Iran teaching ESL for the U.S. Department of Defense. On returning to the U.S., he began working as a union organizer for migrant workers, garbage collectors, and other disenfranchised groups. Erasmo’s early activism on behalf of social justice was notable in San Antonio and South Texas. As a staff member of Bishop Robert E. Lucey’s Committee on the Spanish Speaking, one of his major achievements was the organization of the Valley Farmworkers Assistance Committee and the coordination of the 1966 Farmworkers March from Rio Grande City to Austin on behalf of safe work conditions and a state minimum wage of $1.25. He played an active role in the battle for voter rights in the Winter Garden area and was the first director of federal projects for the Crystal City Independent School District. Funding from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health helped him to create the Zavala County Mental Health Outreach Program, in cooperation with the Department of Psychology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

It was folks like Mr. Andrade who helped develop much needed programs in South Texas, which became a model for programs elsewhere–the same type of programs that many fight for today in the big cities. So, here’s a DC Salute to a great individual.

Erasmo Andrade…PRESENTE!

RIP – Mike Kelley


Mike Kelley, LGBT Activist and Historian, Programmer, Quilter, beloved brother, son and friend, died peacefully Friday morning, January 20th, at Odyssey Hospice in The Heights.  Mike was born October 11, 1951 in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  He studied theatre at Emerson College (Class of 1975) and studied dancing throughout his adolescence.  After college,  Mike worked in theatre, directing and acting in many plays.

After moving to Houston, Mike worked with the Main Street Theatre, directing children’s plays, then worked as a Programmer until he retired.  He embraced his retirement, using his time and talent to the benefit of the Harris County Democratic Party, Pride Houston, the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston (QGGH), the Houston Area Rainbow Collective History (ARCH), and The Botts Collection of LGBT History.  Many ill and terminally ill children and their parents found comfort in quilts created by Mike for the Guild’s charity quilt program, Comforters.  His quilts were also auctioned as fundraisers for Ovarian and Breast Cancer research.  Mike’s commemorative T-shirt quilts were displayed annually at the Pride Festival and World AIDS Day Houston. Mike also enjoyed many showings of his work at the GLBT Community Center.  Mike logged over 3000 volunteer hours at The Botts Collection, identifying, collecting, organizing, recording, and preserving materials that are of historical value to the LGBT community.  His contributions to the community are too many to list.

Mike was preceded in death by his husband, Bill Brunson.  Left to mourn his passing and celebrate his life are his many friends, coworkers from his varied volunteer endeavors, the members of The Cotton Pickin’ Bee and QGGH, and his adopted family.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, February 11th from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the GLBT Cultural Center, 401 Branard St., Room 106, Houston, TX.  The Memorial will begin promptly at 4 p.m. with a reception following from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions in Mike’s honor may be sent to:

The Botts Collection of LGBT History, a 501(c)(3)
%Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
2515 Waugh Dr.
Houston,TX 77006

Thoughts on Viernes…01272012

I’m Missing My Gay Older Brother

Yes, that’s what Mike Kelley called himself when introducing me and my sisters to his friends and associates. Mike was a Democratic and GLBT activist, an artisan-quilter, and just the best brother I could have had.

Some of you might be saying, “a brother?” Well, our family had known Mike for years and we sort of adopted him. Or, he may have adopted us. When he first called us his “Mexican family,” I just thought it was funny. But when he traveled with us to my nephew’s performances, graduation, spent holidays with us, and introduced us as his brother and sisters, well, he was family. He was my big brother.

Yes, my family is better for having known and loved Mike, but this community is better because of Mike, too. It was long conversations with him about GLBT history, issues, and activism that made me first want to meld Latino and GLBT activism as a means of bringing together communities for a common goal–civil rights. And I will definitely continue that in his memory.

A memorial service honoring Mike will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11.

LaTeaNut Group Steals Trademarks “Republatino”

I can’t say I invented the word, but I’ve been using “republatino” since DosCentavos got started (2005). I received a comment from someone stating that the term was copyrighted. A quick search found that they just did it in December 2011 and seems to have first used it on some teabagger website targeted at Latinos. When I did a search on the e-mail, I traced it back to some North Texas teabagger group. Well, I coined the term in 2005, but I obviously do not use it for business purposes like the LaTeaNut group does. I just use it for fun. So, who infringed upon whom?

Anyway, any free copyright lawyers who can give me an opinion, please let me know. I don’t live off the “republatinos,” so I can always use RepubLatiNuts, RePendejos, etc. I can go on, but they just might steal trademark them all!

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.— Tennessee Williams

A Solution Hoping For A Problem?

Much like Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem, I’m of the opinion that the new Republican-created requirement that college admissions offices serve a “migra” office to remind Texas DREAM students to fix their immigration status is just a solution hoping for a problem–like self-deportation or worse, a student inadvertently turning themselves in to authorities. The only saving grace is this:

The Mexican American Legal and Educational Fund worked with state officials in tweaking the in-state tuition policy, said Luis Figueroa, a staff attorney at MALDEF.

An informal agreement will ensure “that a student who is not eligible for adjustment status would not be sent to a federal agency,” Figueroa said.

Ultimately, though, the THECB stated that they only did this because of the Republican debate, not taxpayer input. So, there you go. It’s a political decision that costs taxpayers more, in the end.

Abolitionist Tim O’Brien, Presente!

Reposted from sends sincere condolences to Tim’s family.

Timothy O’Brien, a father, husband, son, brother, and comrade / friend of  so many died at home Tuesday morning with his family present.  Tim was an activist, scholar, and fighter for all workers and oppressed.  As much as he loved his family and friends, he hated war, racism, exploitation and executions.

Tim had cancer, the same thing that killed his father exactly two years ago, in April of 2009.  It had spread–to his brain and more–and he lost this battle.

Tim realized that the end was nearing when doctors said there was no more treatments for him.  But he lived life to the fullest each and every day he had left, finishing his manuscript for a book on Lightning Hopkins, spending special time with Yuna and Kyong Mi, attending one last conference on sweatshops, going to Austin to hear some good music only a few weeks before his confinement to bed, and having friends over for a last visit.

The Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement is forever indebted to Tim for so much energy, for setting up this web page, and for energizing our movement.  Tim attended a demonstration for Todd Willingham last winter before the Court of Inquiry that Judge Charlie Baird held that proved Todd was an innocent man executed by Gov. Rick Perry.

He attended the January hearing that Judge Kevin Fine held where attorneys presented compelling evidence that the use of the death penalty in Texas is unconstitutional.

Tim organized a protest of former Harris County D.A. Carol Vance at a book reading–which caused Murder by the Book and Vance to cancel, rather than face the truth.  Then when Vance appeared at a book festival in the Heights, he was confronted!

Tim was a man with a PhD like no other!  He was at home in academia and as well as in Freedman’s Town.  He could carry on with professors as well as with poor people with no initials behind their names, like his mentor Lenwood Johnson, who, like Tim, was educated AND a friend to the oppressed.  Tim’s PhD in African American History was put to good use for the community, despite the efforts of those in the ivory towers at UH to stop Tim.

Tim won many battles, inspired many young activists, and left a legacy for us all:  Dare to struggle, Dare to Win!

Members of  the Free Radicals will welcome those attending Tim’s funeral with New Orleans jazz funeral music.  The funeral will be Friday morning, April 29, at 11 AM at St. James Methodist Church in Freedman’s Town, 1217 Wilson St., 77019.

Update:  In memory of Tim’s passing, Houston Indymedia will replay interviews that they did with Tim over the last 2-3 years. This special feature will  air Friday, April 29 at 7:30pm, 90.1, KPFT (link to online radio).

Remembering Carlos…

The Day I Finally Met Carlos...

Most of my memories of Carlos Guerra come from reading articles he had written as a freelancer for various publications. One read and I was hooked. When I finally got to SWT, I found out he was writing for the SA Light (and later, the Express-News) and I enjoyed learning from this guy–not just the latest political chisme and news, but how to present myself in my political writings–I figured that’s what I’d end up doing anyway.  It’s easy to say that his style, his wit, and his well-thought-out political leanings influenced me greatly.

After exchanging e-mails with him during my college days regarding various columns (he answered every one of ’em!), it wasn’t until 2003 when my friend and colleague in the cause Lorenzo Cano from the UH Center for Mexican American Studies gave me an opportunity to speak to some of his program students during a field trip to San Antonio, with Carlos serving as the main attraction. Let me tell you, it was a shock to find out at the hotel that I would be speaking AFTER Carlos. So, after the introductions and his usual funny jokes, I felt comfortable enough to tell him that he was going to be one hell of an act to follow. And he was, but I think through some osmosis of sorts I was able to use some of his wit in my presentation. It was THAT contagious.

We kept in touch by e-mail mostly after that, then came his retirement from the SA E-N which turned into phone calls about plans for the future. I was a constant link to his weekly columns from DC and he noticed and always thanked me (unlike some of those other mainstream hacks). So, it didn’t take long for him to become a fan of this “new media” stuff. We talked about how he wanted to start a blog, perhaps we could work together on some campaigns, work on some post-Census stuff, and then in the last year as the 2010 campaigns began to hop-up it was about how a couple of generations of Chicanos from South Texas could smack some sense into the Democratic Party. He could talk for what seemed like hours, and the ganas to impress him with my own wit and sarcasm made the calls longer as he listened to every word I said.  Let me tell you, those were fun phone calls.

It was this past summer when we saw each other last–at the Texas Democratic Convention. It was my first convention in which I opted to stay out of the “convention process” and instead do some live-blogging and actually serve as one of two in his entourage as he held court in the main auditorium and we passed out those “Do I Look Illegal?” buttons that made the TDP leadership and at least one statewide candidate cringe. And then there was that awesome feeling when the press corps turned from scowling at this blogger to actually talking to me after I walked Carlos into the press room. Of course, some of my colleagues in the Texas Progressive Alliance will not forget how he joined us for dinner the afternoon of the Blogger Caucus, and later, the Blogger Caucus itself.

After his retirement from the SA E-N, he told me he had begun several different projects, including a couple of books. Most important to him was his legacy, and not just as a writer, but, generally, as a success story that could play a part in the success of future journalist, especially Latino journalists. And the Carlos Guerra Scholarship at Texas A&M Kingsville will provide exactly that–opportunities for South Texas kids to enter the next generation of journalism. I will definitely be a part of that effort because it is so important for the future of this state.

As my colleague in the cause, NewsTaco’s Sara Ines, tells us in her memories of Carlos, he was indeed a dreamer, never satisfied with just one level of accomplishment, especially for young people. That’s why he had recently made the DREAM Act his cause celebre because it was just too important to let thousands of kids who have only known the U.S. as home, and who we have invested in heavily through public education, fall by the wayside.

Let me tell you, it has been an honor and privilege to have experienced Carlos Guerra. That’s right, one had to experience Carlos Guerra. And then one would end up just wanting more.

When someone moves on to the next life, those left behind are often left in “shoulda-woulda” mode. In this case, I can honestly say that every opportunity I had to speak to him, I’d tell him he was my hero. Of course, in Carlos’ own way, he’d say, “No, you’re MY hero, carnalito.”

And then we’d laugh, and tell each other our “see ya laters.”

Pos, ay nos vemos, C.

(To Alexa, Carlos’ family, friends and colleagues:  The thoughts of the Medellin Family are with you. May the memories, the stories he told us, and his dreams which we shall now turn to action sustain us.)