Things That Matter

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

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!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Things That Matter

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com