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Ernesto Galarza Is The Chicano Pioneer That You Probably Never Read About In Your History Books

Facebook/Man of Fire: Selected Writings of Ernesto Galarza

The majority of Mexican-American studies in this country mention, at great length, the contributions social activist Cesar Chavez had on the Latino farmworkers movement in this country. But there’s another Chicano pioneer who I didn’t learn about until a recent conversation I had with my dad…

Meet Ernesto Galarza one of the first Chicano scholars who began organizing for Latinos in 1948.

CREDIT: Facebook/@GalarzaErnesto

But I didn’t learn about Galarza in my history class, chicano studies lectures or even from reading on my own. 

The way I discovered the incredible legacy of Galarza wasn’t through history books or in college. It was through my dad. 

CREDIT: That’s my mom and dad back in the ’80s when they were field workers.

During a phone conversation, my dad told me that people in Jalco (the small village in Mexico my parents are from) had honored a native writer and poet in the town’s plaza. “A poet?” I asked. “A poet from Jalco…what the?” Most of the townspeople in Jalcocotán, Nayarit are hardworking laborers, caretakers, moms and dads, teachers, lawyers, nurses, but certainly not poets. When I asked my dad the name of the poet, I quickly Googled him and what I found was astonishing.

Galarza wasn’t just a poet but a profound historical figure in Latino history who lead major movements as a young boy.

CREDIT: Facebook/Man of Fire: Selected Writings of Ernesto Galarza

Galarza was born in Jalcocotan, Mexico on August 15, 1905, but moved to Sacramento when he was a boy. There, he quickly learned English and excelled in his studies. Because his English was so good, local farm workers in California asked him to protest on their behalf because polluted water had gotten them sick and even taken the life of a baby in the camp. He did that commendable act when he was just a kid.

He went from the fields on to attend Occidental College, Stanford and Columbia University. NBD, right?

After graduating from Occidental College, he got his master’s degree in Latin American History and Political Science in 1929 at Stanford UniversityHe was one of the first Chicano alumni from Stanford. He also got a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 1944. All of this left me astounded.

That was just the beginning. Here’s more of his incredible accomplishments that contributed and aided the Latino community in the United States, and in Mexico.

Between the 1940s and 1950s, Galarza led the National Farm Labor Union.

CREDIT: @GalarzaErnesto

His work with this organization led to many accomplishments for farm workers including the initiation of the Bracero program, but it also included the exploitation of these works by the U.S. government.

The National Farm Labor Union birthed a movement that gained another Chicano activist and that was Chavez.

Chavez’s work with this organization led to numerous strikes mainly in California, but also throughout the country. Galarza believed he could help the Latino community more effectively through his writings than through activism.

Between 1920 and 1982, Galarza published numerous essays, books, and poems.

Some of the books he wrote include “Merchants of Labor: The Mexican Bracero Story,” “Spiders in the House” and “Workers in the Field,” among others. 

In 1971 he wrote what is now one of my favorite books—his autobiography “Barrio Boy,” which, among other things, discusses in great detail his childhood in Jalco.

Reading about my dad’s hometown, my history, in such an eloquent structure was very emotional for me. Jalco has always been this little town that I wish everyone knew about, and here I was reading about it in a book.

Here’s an excerpt about Jalco from that book:

CREDIT: Immigrant Voices: New Lives in America, 1773-1986.

It was because of this tremendous volume of work that in 1976 he was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature.

CREDIT: Facebook/Man of Fire: Selected Writings of Ernesto Galarza

That alone is an amazing legacy, but there’s more!

I found two elementary schools named after Galarza. One is in San Jose, Calif., the other in San Francisco.

CREDIT: Facebook/ sjusd.org/galarza

There’s also a research center that bears his name at the University of California, Riverside.

In San Jose, which is where Galarza lived until he passed away, is a monument dedicated to him and his advocacy work.

Man of fire.

A post shared by Lorenzo Tlacaelel (@c0pal) on

The artwork located at the San Jose Peace & Justice Center states the following: “Man of Fire commemorates the great and influential teacher and civic leader Dr. Ernesto Galarza. The artwork references Dr. Galarza’s life-long pursuit of bridging academic and civil life. The design of this commemorative work seeks to physically and conceptually connect San Jose State University with Plaza de Cesar Chavez, in the heart of the City’s downtown.”

Galarza’s extended family, some of them from Jalco, visited this dedication last year.

I don’t think I’d ever discover this great Latino trailblazer if it wasn’t for Dad. However, I am even more ecstatic that I can now share the amazing legacy of this labor activist, professor, writer, and the small village where we both have roots.

READ: Most people have never heard of this latino activist, but he’s getting his own movie

Do you have any cool connections to historical figurers? Let us know us by sharing this story and commenting below!

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Don Omar Sold Tickets To His Retirement Show In Puerto Rico For 99¢ And Will Be Donating Over $300K To Hurricane Irma Relief

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Don Omar Sold Tickets To His Retirement Show In Puerto Rico For 99¢ And Will Be Donating Over $300K To Hurricane Irma Relief

Reggaeton star (and occasional actor) Don Omar will be going back to Puerto Rico in December for his retirement tour and he’s giving fans the hookup by selling tickets to his shows for 99¢. The announcement was initially a Christmas gift for fans on the island, which is currently in a $120 billion dollar financial debt crisis. That sense of charity has evolved in the wake of Hurricane Irma. In addition to the cheap tickets, Don Omar has also decided to donate proceeds from the three-day concert series to relief efforts on the island.

The week before Hurricane Irma became a threat, Don Omar had already announced he would be selling tickets for the Puerto Rican leg of his retirement tour for 99¢.

A post shared by DON OMAR (@donomar) on

 Part of his Instagram caption read:

Don Omar says goodbye to the stage with this Magna tour. He recognizes the crisis of his beloved Puerto Rico and is offering tickets starting at 99¢ as a gift… Feeling a deep bond with his roots and his people, the “Danza Kuduro” singer will perform the series of concerts this 15th, 16th and 17th of December in the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot. This is a special time, a significant moment in his career, and recognizing the difficult times that the island is experiencing, the greatest producer of urban music has decided to give his audience the opportunity to be with him and enjoy his talent at prices never before seen… this is a Christmas gift from the artist himself, after his great desire to say goodbye surrounded by his faithful fans. “

In the wake of Irma’s destruction, Don Omar shared an emotional post where he committed to donating $100k per night on his three nights performing in Puerto Rico.

A post shared by DON OMAR (@donomar) on

There was an equally heartwarming caption, including Don Omar’s own memories of hardship at the hands of Atlantic hurricanes:

Just days before tickets go on sale for his concerts in Puerto Rico, Don Omar announced that he will donate USD $100,000.00 for each night of music during the 3 days of events… The urban superstar, who was in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Irma identifies with those affected: “During the hurricane, in 1989, my family lost everything, we had no place to live and no clothes to wear… these are horrible moments that those affected have to live with. In 1998 the passage of Hurricane George again destroyed everything that we had worked so hard for and once more we had to demonstrate as a family how willing we were to get ahead. Many good people helped us, the memories that in an instant we went from having everything to suddenly having nothing will always live in my mind.”

Don Omar has taken an active role in relief efforts, sending funds, supplies, and clothes to areas affected by Irma.

Don Omar shared photos of donations that he received for all affected by Hurricane Irma. It seems like help is going to all islands affected. “Help has already begun for those affected by Hurricane Irma # puertorico # cuba # barbuda # stmarteen Thank you all!”

The aftermath of natural disasters can be pretty grim, but Don Omar is definitely trying to spread the hope and love.

“Any donation however small is important for those who lost everything … We wait for you with an open heart.” An open heart indeed.


[H/T] Billboard

READ: Although They Don’t Speak The Same Language, These Two Hurricane Harvey Survivors Shared An Emotional Moment


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