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César Chávez, Thurgood Marshall and Thomas Jefferson
by Andrew Barbano
Mar 20, 2010 | 862 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the same week that actor Fess Parker died, Nevada Gov. Jim the Dim offered bus rides to a teabagger demonstration in exchange for campaign money. The self-styled “education first” governor once again lampooned himself. The anti-tax teabaggers are so dumb that they have named themselves after a demonstration staged to oppose a tax cut. And Jim Gibbons will go down in history as the governor who gutted education.

Alas and alack, no one will read history if right right-wing moonhowlers have their way. Among their many criticisms of public schools, they complain about the dumbing down of textbooks into boring pablum. They never mention that the dumbing is often their own doing.

The worst perpetrator is the Texas board of education. Bushyland is the second-largest market for school books in the country. As a result, publishers let Texas yahoos slice and dice. Last year, they tried to eliminate labor leader César Chávez and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. This year, they voted to wipe out President Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. The human rights advocate was assassinated in 1980 by a U.S.-backed death squad while he celebrated mass. Romero was eliminated from approved Texas history because, as “Daily Show” anchor Jon Stewart put it, “he wasn’t famous enough” for them.

The dumbing down of our history books allowed Walt Disney to make Davy Crockett a national hero in the 1950s. Parker, who portrayed Crockett in Disney TV and movies, became an American icon in a coonskin cap. The fictionalized Crockett died heroically at the Alamo. More than half a century later, Americans remain largely unaware of the reason Texas wanted to secede from Mexico: the country had just outlawed slavery. Davy Crockett died fighting to keep black people in chains.

Last Friday, I was privileged to say a few words before a Sparks meeting of United Auto Workers Union members and retirees.

I talked about César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall and their relevance today.

These guys were gimlets in the ribs of the system and remain so decades after their deaths. They can still drive the bad guys crazy.

That’s why I’ll be celebrating what would have been César Chávez’s 83rd birthday on March 31 at Circus Circus.

Submit soon

Any Nevada student may enter the César Chávez video competition. It’s very simple. Produce a 60-second public service announcement on any issue, Chávez or not. Upload same at YouTube and send me the URL so that the judges may review it. The decisions of the judges will be final.

We will show the winners at the César Chávez celebration. We will also produce a TV show to air on Sierra Nevada Community Access Television featuring the winners and best runners-up. I know time is short, so anyone who has something already uploaded, even if it’s a bit longer than 60 seconds, please submit. Spanish language entries are cool. I have help there. Any other language, I’ll need a translation. Winners will get nice prizes, as always.

Nominations are still open for the inaugural César Chávez Silver State Public Service Awards. Categories include labor organizer of the year, employer of the year, humanitarian of the year and union project of the year. We are again inviting members of César Chávez’s immediate family plus federal, state and local officials.

On March 31, doors will open at 5:30 with dinner at 7 p.m. Contact me for ticket and sponsorship information or go to

¡Sí se puede!

Suing for Schools

“Suing for Schools,” my latest TV program, will rebroadcast this week on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter/SNCAT digital channels 16 and 216 and hi-def 80-295. Tune in at 5 p.m. on Monday, 9 p.m. on Wednesday and 2:25 p.m. on Friday.

It’s also available online at, along with “If Reform Fails: Health Care, Jobs and Unions.” Both will be running in Carson-Douglas-Tahoe and Las Vegas. Check local listings.

SNCAT is the nonprofit beneficiary of this year’s Chávez event. The station airs programming in various languages on any subject, including many of interest to the burgeoning Latino community. Regular readers know that I have been raising money for SNCAT toward a matching foundation grant of $40,000. If you can help, give me a holler at 882-TALK or drop me a line. And thanks to the readers who have called with Chávez award nominations.

Short shots

The city of Sparks has found Sparks Marina subcontractors guilty of violating Nevada wage laws but has asked the state labor commissioner to waive fines totaling more than $30,000, which would go to the city’s bankrupt treasury. Who’s in charge over there? Many more wage complaints are in the pipeline. On the Ides of March, a group of 95 workers at both Stead and Reno-Sparks-Tahoe International airports voted to affiliate with Teamsters Local 533. They had been a solo union for 31 years but felt they needed Teamsters representational experience. And before you write, yeah, I know the official name of the main airport, but Sparks has been screwed into anonymity for years, so it’s payback time.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, second vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and editor of As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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