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The beast awakens and comes full circle
by Andrew Barbano
Mar 29, 2008 | 688 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The week to walk with giants got off to a rousing start in the winds of Stead last Friday. Union members have already collected more than 600 signatures to start a campaign for fair trade, rather than the job-hemorrhaging policies of the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush administrations.

The protest, led by the United Auto Workers and other unions, was just the beginning.

The late UAW leader Walter Reuther, the greatest labor leader of the 20th Century, was critical to the survival of the United Farms Workers Organizing Committee, led by César Chávez.

Tomorrow, on what would have Chávez’s 81st birthday, retired UAW member George Nelson will rally the young with tales from those battles of long ago.

Doors to the Circus Circus Hotel’s Mandalay Ballroom open at 5:30 and the César Chávez Day celebration begins at 6 p.m.

The highlight of the evening will be an imaginary conversation between César Chávez and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., two men who admired each other and corresponded, but never met.

The winners of the Washoe County School District César Chávez essay contest will be announced and the entertainment will be well worth the price of admission. (Dozens of students will receive comp admission.)

Isaac Avendano, Sr., will perform a song he wrote about Chávez. A native of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, he came to America as a farm worker in 1970.

Casadores de Nevada, a local mariachi group will perform. Their leader, Salvador Anguiano, has invited two primo vocalists to accompany his musicians.

Baile Internacional (Ballet Internationale) will present folkloric dances with a troupe of 14. They are very, very, very good.

Sometimes, the gods smile upon you and the stars are in alignment. This could be the start of something big.

The King-Chávez conversation was the brainchild of First United Methodist Church pastor John Auer.

Next weekend, he and his congregation are sponsoring three days of dialogue, food and music to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King. See the Web edition of this column at Barbwire.US for details.

The non-musical highlight (trust me, the music will knock your socks off, so don’t wear any) will be the presence of Rev. Philip C. Lawson, director of interfaith housing programs for the East Bay Housing Organization and a former California NAACP branch president.

More than a decade ago, Rev. Lawson started a very productive organization charged with addressing immigration issues. He will discuss establishing a similar group here in Nevada.

If government won’t help with the problem, we’ll have to show our elected officials the way. Rev. Auer will start the dialogue by speaking to that issue tomorrow night at Circus Circus.

The continuum is fascinating. The UAW helped Chávez’s union survive. Walter Reuther’s stalwarts are still here fighting for U.S. jobs and helping the successors of Chávez and King uplift all Americans. And they will all try to move this retro state forward by tackling the most divisive issue of the day when no one else will.

Si se puede!

On the air

Tune in to “Nevada Newsmakers” on KRNV TV-4 at 12:30 p.m. on Monday. Sam Shad and the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Ray Hagar will interview Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid, Sen. Harry’s kid and a Hillary booster. I’ll be on the pundit panel with lobbyist Steve Robinson and Tracey Woods of the Retail Association of Nevada. As usual, I propose visionary and simple solutions to all the world’s problems. I’ve done it so often that I’ve got it reduced to a 60-second commercial. So watch.

The show reruns at 9:30 p.m. on Washoe-Carson-Douglas Charter cable channels. As usual, the full schedule will be linked to the web edition of this column at Barbwire.US.

Soccer sucker

I suffered for the cause last week. Sam Shad made me sit through almost an hour of excruciating conversation as he and Reno Gazette-Journal reporter Ray Hagar interviewed Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. By the end, I was ready to throw rotten tomatoes.

Ensign actually pimped the day’s White House talking points to his Nevada constituents: “Kids are playing soccer in Baghdad,” the same thing Dubya said.

I don’t doubt some war zonies are actually doing so — those who still have legs.

The latest twist in the Babylonian Civil War has shut the town down, so you play soccer with your life.

Shad was short on time by the time Ensign was done painting his rosy scenario. The staff ushered me to my chair, which the senator had kept warm for me.

I took the opportunity to pose a question: “Senator, if things are going as well as you say in Iraq, when do they lay down their arms, convert to Christianity and apply for statehood? Next month, perhaps?”

He looked at me like I was carrying Democratic bubonic plague and walked out of the studio.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, member of Sparks-based Commun-ications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, political action chair and webmaster of NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch 1112, producer of the César Chávez celebration and editor of As always, his comments are strictly his own. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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