Fame is fleeting. A few days ago, I had to explain to an angry reader the difference between current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, multiple world boxing champion Julio César Chávez and the late great Latino labor leader who died in 1993.
So why should we celebrate the life of this little guy with the big voice? Look around you at all the anger and despair fanned into mindless action by demagogues seeking political advantage. Corporate shills offer people easy scapegoats to blame for their shrinking piece of the American pie. Good old Southern racism has risen from ugly undercurrent to media mainstream.
Which perhaps explains why the Texas school board in recent years has tried with some success to surgically remove from history books the likes of César Chávez, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and even President Thomas Jefferson. After California, Texas is the second largest purchaser of textbooks and often rewrites history or science to fit the whims of Bushite neanderthals.
César and his fellow Texas degradados teach us important lessons from long ago. All of them used their considerable communication skills to organize citizens. Chávez and King continue to show us how to fight for a fair shake for the little guy, which makes them dangerous men to this very day. They moved mountains non-violently, a lesson we apparently must relearn every few weeks.
Viva la causa
It would not be Chávez Day without some community organizing and Wednesday’s event will be jam-packed. The Reno-Sparks NAACP and Sierra Nevada Community Access Television (SNCAT) will be soliciting new members. The NAACP will also announce the date of its annual Freedom Fund Banquet. The U.S. Census will be around pestering people to send in that damned questionnaire. (I have some roasty remarks prepared for them. If you can’t come up with a few jokes about the census, you need new writers.) The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) will be on hand to make the case to raise the tax on the state’s mining industry.
And those are just the sideshows during cocktail hour.
The fun stuff begins after dinner with the inaugural César Chávez Silver State Public Service Awards, all of which are being engraved by the descendants of John Langhans at Greenbrae Trophy Center in Sparks.
The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority will share union project of the year honors with Sparks-based Q&D Construction for the $63 million expansion of the facility’s baggage check-in area. The employer of the year honor goes to Save Mart, a very efficiently managed and totally unionized retailer. The company is sending representatives as is United Food and Commercial Workers Local 711/AFL-CIO.
The jury is still out on who will win union organizer of the year and I am keeping under wraps the identity of the first Nevada César Chávez Hall of Fame inductee. Ten members of César Chávez’s immediate family will attend, including his brother Librado. I suspect that a few politicians might also show up.
Doors to the Circus Circus Mandalay Convention Center open at 5:30 p.m. this Wednesday, César Chávez’s 83rd birthday. Dinner starts at 7 p.m. We’ll have music and a few surprises. For tickets and additional information, go to CesarChavezNevada.com.
Show within a show
SNCAT is the nonprofit beneficiary of this year’s celebration. The station airs programming in various languages on any subject, including many of interest to the burgeoning Latino community. SNCAT board member and producer Elvira Diaz will be doing some shooting for a TV series on racial and ethnic mutual support. Stories will include Nevadan Shirley Diaz who is traveling to war-torn central Africa to motivate Congo students to attend college. Elvira will also showcase Claudia Castaneda-Melendez and her work with Nevada Native American tribes. She also wants to interview a certain obscure Italian union guy who celebrates the life of César Chávez every year.
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.
See you Wednesday.
¡Sí se puede!
The two latest Barbwire TV specials are now rerunning regionally as well as down in Gomorrah South. On Carson City Charter Channel 210, the health care show runs this week and Suing for Schools airs the week of April 5. The hourlong programs repeat at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, 8 a.m. on Thursdays and 8 p.m. on Saturdays. SNCAT is also rerunning them on Sparks-Washoe-Reno Charter digital channels 16 and 216 and hi-def 80-295. Check SNCAT.org for times. You may also view them any time on your computer desktop via the links in the expanded Web edition of this column at NevadaLabor.com.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, second vice-president/political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and editor of NevadaLabor.com. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.