LETTER TO THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE IN RESPONSE TO NO COVERAGE OF THE CESAR CHAVEZ PARADE
FROM BENNY MARTINEZ, PRESIDENT
TEJANO ASSOCIATION FOR HISTORICAL PRESERVATION
Yesterday, April 1, 2000 was a historic day for the Houston Community. 67th Street was renamed for Cesar Chavez, who fought for better working conditions and human rights for farm workers. He would accomplish his goals through non-violent means. He made many sacrifices to improve working conditions. The Tejano Association for Historical Preservation worked for four years to accomplish this goal of renaming 67th Street to Cesar Chavez Blvd. The Honorable Mayor Lee Brown culminated the parade with the presentation of a city proclamation at Hidalgo Park to Benny C. Martinez, President of the Tejano Association for Historical Preservation. Noted television personality, Marcello Marini of Channel 48 was the Master of Ceremonies. Congressman Gene Green also presented Mr. Martinez with a proclamation. Distinguished guests and participants included: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Senator Mario Gallegos, State Representatives Jessica Farrar, Joe Moreno, and Rick Noriega (who was also the Officer of the Day, dressed in military uniform), City Councilman John Castillo and City Councilman Gabriel Vasquez, City Comptroller Sylvia Garcia, Leonel Castillo, past Director of Immigration and Naturalization, Honorable Judge Richard Vara, Dr. Tatcho Mindiola of University of Houston, Dr. Andres Tijerina, of Austin Community College, Most Reverend James Tamayo, Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Galveston-Houston, Mr. Felix Fraga, former City Councilman, Evanelina Vigil-Pinion, of Channel 13 Viva Houston, Dale Wortham, President of AFL-CIO, Arturo Ramirez, Atty. at Law, Hector Antonio Chavana, Atty., at Law and Jose Reynaga. Epic Productions also sponsored a Fun Day in the Park. After the ceremonies, Honorable Mayor Brown walked surrounding blocks with City Councilman John Castillo assisting residents with the Census 2000.
It was also a day that honored America's War Heroes. Three Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients participated and were the Grand Marshals, Lucian Adams, Richard Rocco and Clarence Sassar.
Cesar Chavez was born March 31, 1927 and died April 23, 1993. He was a Navy WWII Veteran. When Cesar returned from the War he began his fight for better working conditions for the farmworker. He opposed the spraying of the now banned DDT on the farm workers. He wanted better pay and better working conditions. He voiced his opposition through non-violent means. He had studied and was impressed with the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, who through non-violent means helped obtain independence from England. He was also influenced by the writings of Pope Leo who wrote that if one man falls, another one should be there for his brother. He was friends with Dr. Martin Luther King and was impressed with how he loved his enemy.
Upon review of the Houston Chronicle on April 2, 2000 The Tejano Association Parade Committee Members and its' President were shocked and saddened by absolutely no mention of the event in the Chronicle. It is unconscionable to think that the Houston Chronicle would make zero reference to the event; whereas, in regard to the Spanish Media, the event was front-page news. Your inattention to the matter defines your lack of respect for those who have fought for human rights and their country, regardless of race, creed, or color. This event marked the celebration of renaming a street and parade in honor of War Heroes and Cesar Chavez, a victor of basic human rights and better working conditions for the migrant farm worker. State officials as well as City Officials, including the Mayor attended this event. The officials of the government knew that this event was one worth attending and the celebration of human rights and dignity transcends color. It is totally unbelievable that the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board thought this event was not newsworthy. Those that are oppressed have fought long and hard to attain the few rights that are easily granted to others. We will continue the fight to have historical events such as this to be broadcast and recorded by all the media, not just a select few. When race gets in front of the message, everybody suffers. Our voice will be heard, because we speak the voice of truth.
We are confident that the wisdom of the Editorial Board will prevail, and the issuing of a special commemorative addition to the paper post haste will evidence the acknowledgment of the event. Cesar Chavez was a great person and a role model for many. Let's all join together to acknowledge the basic rights of all people.