Monday, August 30, 2010

Latina's legacy will be honored with US Stamp

 Latina's legacy will be honored with US Stamp
By Adrian Perez

Julia de Burgos
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - It’s not too often Latino poets are honored by naming museums, cultural centers, schools, and streets after their name.  This is not the case for Puerto Rican born Julia de Burgos, whose poetry, continues to inspire poets, feminists, poetry aficionados, and even politicians.  To further honor Julia’s powerful literary art, the United States Postal Service will be releasing a stamp in her honor next month, recognizing National Hispanic Month.  But, who is Julia de Burgos?

Julia was born on February 17, 1914 and grew up to be perhaps the greatest poet from Puerto Rico and is considered one of the greatest poets from Latino American, along side of Gabriela Mistral.  As the youngest of 13 children, Julia’s family was very poor, with six of her siblings dying of malnutrition.  Through her determination to succeed, she attained a scholarship at age 13 to attend the University of Puerto Rico. 

Julia graduated from the University at age 19 with a degree in teaching and immediately began to work as an elementary teacher as well as a writer for a children’s public radio program.  It was 1933, when she also met Ruben Rodriguez Beauchamp, a man she married that same year.  She was soon fired from the radio program when it was learned that Julia was consorting with a militant group called the “Daughters of Freedom,” a Nationalist group.  This is also when Julia began to write poetry, with her most noted work “Rio Grande de Loiza.”

Julia left teaching to focus on her marriage and writing, of which some of her work was published in journals and newspapers.  While her writing grew, her marriage began to suffer as she spent more time with the activist group.  She and Ruben divorced in 1937. 

That same year, Julia published her first book “Poemas Exactos de Mi Misma.”  A year later, she published her second book “Poema en Veinte Surcos.”  To promote her books, Julia traveled around the Island, conducting book readings and drawing the attention of critics.  Three years later, she moved to New York City.

In New York, Julia got by working as a journalist.  It was here where she met Dr. Juan Isidro Jimeses Grullon, whom they say she fell madly in love with, although they never married. Dr. Jimses Grullon took Julia to Cuba where she studied at the University of Havana.  Their relationship fell sour and two years later, in 1942, Julia returned to New York by herself, without much money.

Working as a receptionist then as a secretary, Julia did not write any longer, instead turning to alcohol to relieve her heartache until a year later, in 1943, when she met and married Armando Marin, a musician.  It is not clear what caused their marriage to dissolve, but this second divorce in 1947 pushed Julia into a deeper depression and serious alcoholism.

Not having been heard from since June 28, 1953, Julia’s family and friends initiated a search and found she had been buried in New York’s potter’s field.  In backtracking what happened to her, it was found that on July 26, 1953, Julia had collapsed on a sidewalk in Spanish Harlem and taken to the hospital where she later died of pneumonia.  She was only 39.
Some believe Julia had predicted her death in the only English poem she wrote in August of 1953, “Farewell In Welfare Island” which read:  “It has to be from here,/right this instance,/my cry into the world./My cry that is no more mine,/but hers and his forever,/the comrades of my silence,/the phantoms of my grave.”

Upon discovering Julia’s tragic death, the people of Puerto Rico created a commission to bring her remains back to the Island in September of 1953, where she was given a hero’s burial.   Since then, the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico has named schools and avenues after the famous poet.  A shelter for physically abused women bares her name and the Julia de Burgos Museum of Arts and Sciences was also established.  In 1987, Julia de Burgos was granted a doctorate in Human Letters and Arts.

The U.S. has also honored Julia’s legacy with the Julia de Burgos Latino Center at Yale University, the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center in Harlem, and numerous other centers and schools bare her name.  Now, the United States Postal Services will be honoring Julia with a stamp baring her image, which will be unveiled in September 2010, in time for Hispanic Heritage Month.

There is no question today that this Latina continues to reach the old, the young, the feminist, and the inspired.  Some of her famous works can be found here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Latina takes leadership role with LULAC

Latina takes leadership role with LULAC

Mickie Luna
Hollister, CA Mickie Solorio Luna is a 27-year active member of the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights group, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).   Her active participation and dedication in advance LULAC’s cause was rewarded this past month when she was elected Vice President of the Farwest Region, which includes California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Hawaii.  Receiving 74 percent of the delegation vote, there is no question many hold her leadership abilities at high esteem.

Born and raised in Hollister, California, Mickie is the youngest of 12 children, whose farm worker upbringing taught her the importance of succeeding in life.   Staying active in her community, Mickie has helped many local youth graduated from high school and on into college.  Her efforts have brought much attention to her community and surrounding areas, bringing her recognition from national individuals like former Clinton White House Chief of Staff and current Director for the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Penetta.
Mickie founded the San Benito County LULAC Council #2890 in 1987 and the Youth Council in 1989, which helped immediately increase the number of registered Latino voters.  In addition, she led the fight to change the composition of Hollister’s City Council, which now includes three Latinas.  Due to her tireless work, Mickie has been named LULAC’s Women of the Year on four different occasions.
As a civic leader, Mickie has been Chairperson for the San Benito County Grand Jury Education Committee, Executive Vice President of the American Red Cross, and served 12 years as member of the Mental Health Advisory Board.  She is founding member of the San Benito County Community Action Board, past board member of the YMCA Advisory board and an original member of the Gavilan College Hispanic Advisory Committee.

Mickie’s term as LULAC’s Farwest Region Vice President is for one year and can serve up to 4 maximum terms, as she has done in the past as a state director, district director and local president. 

Founded in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens is the nation’s oldest and largest Latino organization. With thousands of members organized into more than 700 LULAC Councils in virtually every state of the nation, as well as Puerto Rico, LULAC has tremendous outreach into the Hispanic community. With a rich legacy of advocacy in civil rights, education, economic development, immigration and equal opportunity, LULAC is uniquely positioned as the voice of the Latino community.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Latino concerts to honor culture, support organizations

Musical message to honor Latino culture in the US

Lila Downs
LOS ANGELES, CA – On August 2, 2010, a trio of Latino non-profit organizations jointly unveiled August and September dates for a series of concerts developed by the respective organizations to honor Latino culture and history and to bring awareness to the ongoing need for comprehensive immigration reform.  The historical series of performances by icons of Latino music and multiple Grammy winners spans both traditional and contemporary genres and will begin on August 13, with the Dolores Huerta Foundation’s concert at the Greek Theater in Hollywood, will continue from September 16 – 26, 2010 with the 19th Annual San José Mexican Heritage & Mariachi Festival, and will end on September 28, with MALDEF’s “Truth in Immigration” Benefit Concert at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City.  Headliners for the concerts and performances include: Carlos Santana, Eugenia Leon, Intocable, Los Tigres del Norte, Los Lobos, Ozomatli, Los Tex Maniacs, Mariachi Cobre and Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano.

First, On August 13, the Dolores Huerta Foundation will host a concert entitled “Weaving Movements Together” at the Greek Theater in Hollywood featuring Carlos Santana, Pete Escovedo, Lila Downs, Zack de la Rocha, with celebrity co-hosts Martin Sheen, Ed Bagley Jr., Benjamin Bratt, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Culture Clash, and Jodie Evans from Code Pink with more to be announced.   

Internationally recognized for her role in promoting human rights for women, immigrants, workers and the gay community, Dolores Huerta, President of Dolores Huerta Foundation and Co-founder of United Farm Workers of America, is celebrating her 80th birthday with an inspiring benefit concert entitled “Weaving Movements Together” to celebrate the victories of the past, address the challenges of the future, and collectively envision a better world.  The Concert will be webcast live to over 25 simultaneous parties nationwide, will unite several social movements and help raise funds for the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Next, the Mexican Heritage Corporation (MHC), producer of the largest Latino heritage and music festival in California, will host its 19th Annual San José Mexican Heritage & Mariachi Festival, September 16 – 26, 2010.  Following the vision of Artistic Director and multiple Grammy winner Linda Ronstadt, the Festival’s concerts and cultural events illuminate the “roots and branches” of Mexico’s diverse culture, celebrate the contributions of Mexico’s heritage and people to our civic life and honor the artists, who, through their body of work spotlight the issues impacting Latinos today.  The Festival is not a mere entertainment - it is a platform for advocacy through cultural expression.

On September 25, the Festival will feature the world premiere of “¡Adelita! The Women of the Mexican Revolution,” a dazzling theatrical piece created and directed by Dan Guerrero, named "One of the 25 most powerful Latinos in Hollywood” by Hispanic Magazine.  Guerrero was selected by Ronstadt, to create and direct this original theatre piece. ¡Adelita! tells the gripping story of the women who fought in the Mexican Revolution - a story of bravery, loyalty, courage, love and passion that weaves music, dance, and historic visual projections to create a magical fable. The show features performances by Mexico City chanteuse Eugenia Leon, and Mariachi Cobre and Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. Dolores Huerta will also be honored by the production for 80 years of service to her community.

On September 26, the Festival will host “A Concert for the American Dream,” featuring a performance of five time Grammy winners and Latin music legends Los Tigres del Norte, with their special guests Grammy winners Intocable  The evening concert will take place at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, Sunday September 26 at 7PM.  “A Concert for the American Dream” will celebrate with strong voices our contributions to our nation’s civic culture.  Additional Latino legacy artists will be announced in August. Also on September 26, the Festival presents a free outdoor concert at Plaza de Cesar Chavez with headliners Ozomatli and special guests Los Tex Maniacs.

Known for their commitment to social justice, the 2010 Festival artists personify, through music and their commitment to our community, the American Dream. Proceeds from all Festival events benefit MHC’s education programs.

Los Lobos
Bringing the series to a close, on September 28, MALDEF will host its “Truth in Immigration” Benefit Concert featuring Los Tigres del Norte and Los Lobos.  The Benefit Concert will be held at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City at 8:15PM.  Proceeds from the Benefit Concert will assist MALDEF’s ongoing efforts to promote immigrants rights, including its fight to permanently block Arizona’s anti-immigration law known as SB 1070.

Los Tigres del Norte is a creative social force and a prominent voice of social conscience within Latin music.  Los Lobos are a three-time Grammy Award winning American Chicano rock band with influences from rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country music, fold, R&B, blues, and traditional Spanish and Mexican music such as boleros and norteño.

MALDEF’s Truth in Immigration Campaign seeks to ensure that legal and factual inaccuracies about Latinos and other immigrants are quickly and soundly dispelled.  The Campaign also raises funds to support MALDEF’s educational missions and litigation efforts related to protecting the rights of immigrants.  With the Benefit Concert, MALDEF will partner with world-renowned artists like Los Lobos and Los Tigres del Norte to bring a message of humanity and hope through music to concert-goers and supporters.

“This concert marks a new means of promoting accurate information on immigrants and immigration to inform the national debate to achieve progressive immigration reform,” says Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel.  “We are pleased to have the support of cultural icons Los Tigres del Norte and Los Lobos.”
"The theme of our benefit concert is weaving movements together, to motivate our disparate movements to work together for a successful social justice agenda and focus on grassroots community organizing,” said Dolores Huerta, President of Dolores Huerta Foundation and Co-founder of United Farm Workers of America.  “The Dolores Huerta Foundation raises funds to train community organizers to develop leaders and build sustainable community organizations with an emphasis on women and youth."
"As a non-profit arts organization dedicated to celebrating our Latino culture and heritage, we're alarmed at efforts in Arizona and elsewhere that seek to eliminate heritage education programs,” said Marcela Davison Aviles, President and CEO of MHC.  “This joint effort announced today catalyzes a new movement -- through music and advocacy - to call attention to the contributions of Latinos to our civic culture, and to start a new type of conversation for the common good.  Laws that legislate the elimination of heritage studies legislate the elimination of the ideals upon which our country was founded.  As President Lincoln noted over 150 years ago, our blended culture not only informs our common humanity, our diverse cultural heritage defines it."