Aug 10, 2020

California Redistricting Commission Complete


CalMatters Reports:

The final six Californians who will redraw the Golden State’s electoral map — defining its legislative and congressional districts for the next decade — were selected Friday by the eight other members of California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission. Four of the new members are Latino, which didn’t satisfy advocates who called for all six to be Latino after none of the first eight randomly selected members were Latino. California’s population is about 40% Latino.

  • Sonja Diaz of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative: “(Friday’s) decision brought more diversity to the redistricting commission, especially the voices of women of color … Yet, the diversity of the final commission does not go far enough to ensure Latinos have a full seat at the table in shaping the state’s political future.”

Of the 14 commissioners, five are Democrats, five are Republicans and four have no party preference. Eight are female and six are male. Three are white, three are Black, four are Asian/Pacific Islander and four are Latino. Seven are from Southern California, four from the Bay Area and three from the Central Valley.


Jun 19, 2020

CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL SEEKS REACCREDITATION

The public’s input is one component of a three-day virtual visit in June by a team of assessors from CALEA.

SACRAMENTO, CA
– The California Highway Patrol (CHP) will seek public input later this month as part of its assessment from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement and public safety services.

The primary purpose of CALEA is to improve the delivery of public safety services by maintaining a comprehensive body of law enforcement standards, establishing and administering an accreditation process, and recognizing professional excellence. The CHP, which has been accredited since 2010, is the largest state law enforcement agency in the United States to be accredited. The CHP Academy and Communications Centers are also accredited.

As a part of this assessment, members of the public are invited to comment by calling (916) 843-4398 on Tuesday, June 30, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Additionally, the public is invited to participate in a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, beginning at 1 p.m. The virtual public hearing, which will be conducted via Webex, will give members of the public an opportunity to interact with CALEA assessors, to provide commentary about the CHP, or ask questions about the accreditation process. To participate in the virtual public hearing, please e-mail chp-accreditation@chp.ca.gov no later than Thursday, June 25, 2020, at 5 p.m.

The public’s input is one component of a three-day virtual visit in June by a team of assessors from CALEA. During their visit, the CALEA assessors will verify the CHP’s overall compliance with a set of standards designed to ensure the Department’s policies and procedures are consistent with law enforcement industry best practices. The assessors will remotely examine CHP Headquarters, the CHP Academy in West Sacramento, and various administrative and field commands to examine all aspects of the Department’s policies, procedures, administration, operations, and support services.

“We welcome the accreditation process,” said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley, who has led the Department since 2017. “The input we receive from the public and the assessment team gives the CHP direction and helps us continuously improve. The CALEA assessment is a valuable resource for the Department.”

The CALEA accreditation process is an additional avenue in which the CHP ensures it is upholding its mission of providing the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security to the people of California.

Feb 11, 2020

SacLatino Voting Recommendations Primary 2020

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This year’s California primary lands on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. What this means is that ballots have begun to arrive to registered voter’s homes already.  It also means you can go to the Voter Registrars’ Office and vote.  Why the big push to vote?  Unfortunately, Latinos typically doesn’t turn out to vote in big numbers, which affects our ability to get public policies that benefit our community.  Only you can fix this!  Don’t let the many sacrifices our historical leaders went through go to waste by not voting.

Latinos are the most populous group in the state at nearly 40 percent of the population.  In the Sacramento region, we are nearly 30 percent, or close to one out of three residents.  Our children make up the majority of students in the school districts, making voting for school trustees especially important.  What we have done is reviewed public information on candidates and public referendums to assess those we believe would be in the Latino community’s best interest.  Here are our recommendations.  Not all local races or referendums are included.

City Council Races:  Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8
District 2 has four candidates running for City Council and they include:  incumbent Alan Wayne Warren, who has been in this seat since 2012; newcomer Sean Loloee, who is owner of the Viva Markets; Ramona Landeros, who is currently a Trustee for Twin Rivers School District; and, Lamar Jefferson, a small business owner.  Of the four candidates, only Warren has the inside experience in city government, and is a life-long resident of North Sacramento.  Since being elected, Warren has learned how to maneuver city hall to make District 2 issues a priority, which has resulted in major street and walkway safety, increase in jobs, and more investment for housing developments.   A friend of the Latino community, which is now almost 40 percent of the population, Warren has overseen the most improvement in North Sacramento in nearly 50 years.  The other three candidates are nowhere near ready to lead North Sacramento.  VOTE FOR ALLEN WARREN, SACRAMENTO CITY COUNCIL.

District 4 has the fastest growing economy, comprised of midtown and downtown.  There are two candidates running for the Council seat, incumbent Steve Hansen and Katie Valenzuela.  Hansen has been doing an incredible job of bringing investors for housing development, pushing RT to cut fares and promoting less use of cars.  Valenzuela is criticizing the construction of the Golden 1 Center and the new professional soccer stadium and is taking a novice’s approach at city government.  VOTE FOR STEVE HANSEN, SACRAMENTO CITY COUNCIL.

District 6 is going through a major transformation behind the energy of incumbent City Council Member Eric Guerra, who is being challenged by newcomers Kevin Rooney, a plumbing contractor, and Waverly Hampton III, a college student.  Guerra has kept a humble yet straight forward approach in improving business districts and develop housing.  Moreover, he has made strong alliances among fellow city council members, an essential ingredient to get good public policy passed.  His opponents should sit back and take notes.  VOTE FOR ERIC GUERRA, SACRAMENTO CITY COUNCIL.

District 8 is the most interesting of the city council races. Larry Carr a long time public servant and friend of the Latino community, is not seeking reelection creating an opportunity rarely seen in City Council races.  The candidates are:  Mai Vang, a college scholarship director and teacher at Sacramento State University and University of California, Davis; Les Simmons, a Pastor and known leader from South Sacramento; Ronald Bell, a retired Pastor; Daphne Harris, a real estate broker, and, Santiago Morales, a program analyst.  Of the candidates, only Vang brings elected office experience having been a Trustee in the Sacramento Unified School District.  This alone makes her the strongest candidate, but she also brings more diversity to a male dominated City Council.  VOTE FOR MAI VANG, SACRAMENTO CITY COUNCIL.

Mayor, City of Sacramento
Sacramento has three individuals running for mayor. They include incumbent Mayor Darrell Steinberg; challenger Mac Arteaga; and newcomer Jrmar Jefferson. Darrell Steinberg was elected mayor in 2016 and has done a number of really good things to improve living in the city of Sacramento. More recently his push to develop the Rail Yards will not only bring business to the area, but much needed jobs and housing.  Steinberg has also taken a strong leadership role in addressing the growing homeless crisis.  The other two candidates have absolutely no relevant experience. VOTE FOR DARRELL STEINBERG, MAYOR, CITY OF SACRAMENTO.

Trustee For Twin Rivers School Board
Twin Rivers School District is geographically the largest school district in the Sacramento region, and based on news clippings and attending School Board meetings, it is extremely disjointed.  Those Trustees representing suburban and rural Areas rarely support the needs of the schools in the Sacramento city limits.  And, the Trustees representing the Areas within the Sacramento city limits are weak or disconnected with the schools and school children they represent. 

Area 3 - This year, Area 3 will have a new Trustee, Christine Jefferson, who is running unopposed.  Her activities and commitment to especially Grant High School, which has a 52% Latino student body, will be a breath of fresh air over the outgoing trustee, whose troubled legacy included not living in the Area. 

Area 7 - There are currently three candidates running to represent Area 7, they include incumbent Linda Fowler; Planner and consultant Daniel Savala; and community activist Sasha White Vogt.  Linda Fowler was initially elected in 1971 and she doesn’t appear to know or understand that the neighborhoods she has been representing have changed.  In addition, she has been under investigation for numerous questionable activities including paying herself for helping launch a private school.  More recently, Fowler was not vocal about the school closures nor the parents concerns in this Area, which will still face some challenging proposals being considered by the Board of Trustees.  What Area 7 needs is a fresh new Trustee who sees the needs of the children and understands the demographic and economic changes that have occurred since 1971. Daniel Savala and Sasha White Vogt bring those perspectives as well as advocacy experience on behalf of the disenfranchised.  Of these two, Savala brings the additional experience of creating alliances, a much-needed tool to bridge the District’s division between city versus rural and suburban.  VOTE FOR DANIEL SAVALA, TRUSTEE TWIN RIVERS SCHOOL BOARD.

Measure E
Measure E is one of those essential Bond issues that are critical for the economic development of our region. Without proper classrooms or learning environments for students to grow, the Sacramento region will be unable to produce the workforce that is essential to attract big businesses or stimulate entrepreneurship. The best thing about Measure E is that it will not increase property taxes, a concern expressed by many homeowners and renters early on and by tax groups. As a result we recommend:  VOTE YES ON MEASURE E. 

Measure G
Measure G is an interesting idea but very ill conceived. To believe that taxpayers would rather have their money spent on raising someone else’s child versus protecting their home or their neighborhood leads me to believe that the framers of Measure G gave no thought to ask taxpayers if this even made sense. Nonprofits are established by individuals who have a vision of improving things in the different aspects of our busy lives. The state and federal laws allow nonprofits to exist by giving them rights to raise nontaxable money through contributions, activities, or events. This Measure takes taxpayer monies to accomplish the mission of those nonprofits, which essentially equates to raising a child.  Taxpayers already flip the bill for schools, workforce development, youth employment, gang prevention, parks and recreation, libraries, etc., but this Measure implies City government is failing in these areas, therefore nonprofits should be paid to duplicate these functions.  Moreover, in addition to the City funding existing programs, a total of 2.5% of the City’s budget will be committed to fund these nonprofits.  Why not have the nonprofits petition to work with the existing City programs and add value to them versus functioning independently?  Measure G appears more like a money grab than a legitimate effort to address the City’s future.  VOTE NO ON MEASURE G.



May 5, 2019

The Origins of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo has been observed in Los Angeles every year since 1862, without a break. But the history of its origins as a civil rights commemoration has been lost over the past 160 years, and it has become reduced, in many cases, to "Drinko de Mayo."
By David E. Hayes-Bautista - The NiLP Report 

Why is the Cinco de Mayo so widely celebrated in the United States, when it is scarcely noticed in Mexico? The answer to that question is to be found in the lived experience of tens of thousands of Spanish speakers residing in what is now the American West during the American Civil War. What? Latinos in the American Civil War? 

When Hidalgo proclaimed Mexico's independence from Spain in 1810, he also announced racial equality in citizenship and the abolition of slavery in the new republic. When the US seized control of the northern half of Mexico in 1848, it also acquired a large, Spanish-speaking, racially mixed (mestizo) population that was largely uncomfortable with the new US constitutional values that permitted slavery and denied citizenship to non-white persons. 

Latino delegates successfully pushed the 1849 California Constitutional Convention to honor Mexico's earlier abolition of slavery, to allow non-white persons to become voting citizens, and to do so in both Spanish and English. California's entry to the US as a free state, without an accompanying slave state as mandated by the 1820 Missouri Compromise, nearly led to Slave State secession and civil war immediately. The compromise of 1850 staved off this war for a decade, and during that time tens of thousands of Spanish-speakers from every corner of Latin America poured into California and Nevada seeking gold and silver. When the Civil War did erupt in 1861, Latinos in the American West overwhelmingly supported Abraham Lincoln and the United States against the Slave State Confederacy. Latinos joined the United States Army, and rode in units of Spanish Speaking US Cavalry: the first full admiral of the US navy was a bilingual, bicultural Latino, David Farragut. Yet, from the very first Battle of Bull Run, the Slave State armies rode a streak of luck, winning highly visible battles in the Virginia Theater of War, while Lincoln's army appeared unable to win the big battles. 

Then, things got worse. Taking advantage of Lincoln's preoccupation with the Civil War, Napoleon
III, the Emperor of the French, sent his army into Mexico for the purpose of destroying a republic with its constitutional values and installing Maximilian of Austria as a new emperor, who would then be free to make an alliance with the rebelling Slave States. 

Latinos in the American West followed the advance of the French army through Mexico via the lively Spanish language press in San Francisco and Los Angeles. When the French army was only about three days' march away from Mexico City, the future for dark-skinned mestizos who might fall under the power of the Confederacy appeared to be bleak. 

Like a streak of lightning in the dark night sky, the news arrived, and it was electrifying: The French did not make it to Mexico City to create a Slave State friend south of the border---they were stopped dead at the Battle of Puebla fought on Cinco de Mayo of 1862, and thrown back to the coast at Veracruz. Although the news arrived three weeks after the actual battle, Latinos in California, Nevada and Oregon immediately erupted into joyous, spontaneous celebrations, They then began to organize themselves into the first regional network of Latino community organizations, the Juntas Patrióticas Mejicanas. It was established in 129 locations in in the American West, to channel their economic support to Juarez for his purchase of arms and ammunition to fight the French, and their political support Lincoln. Each Junta met every month, three or four speakers would harangue the crowds at each meeting, and the focal point of most of the speeches was the victory of Cinco de Mayo. 

Every year, the Juntas in many towns organized public events on the Cinco de Mayo as a public statement of where Latinos stood on the issues of the American Civil War: they opposed slavery and supported freedom; they opposed white supremacy and supported racial equality. Led by both the Mexican and the US flags, parades would march through the streets of towns and mining camps of the American West, speakers would energize the crowds, bands played music, the militia saluted with rifles and cannon, and then dances would last until the early hours of the morning. 

Cinco de Mayo has been observed in Los Angeles every year since 1862, without a break. But the history of its origins as a civil rights commemoration has been lost over the past 160 years, and it has become reduced, in many cases, to "Drinko de Mayo." 

It is time to take Cinco de Mayo back from drunken revelers wearing sarapes and straw sombreros, and return it to its origins as a Latino public statement of commitment to freedom, equality and democracy. I would encourage us all to commit to creating the 21 century version, "Cinco de Mayo for social justice." 

¡Que viva el Cinco de Mayo! 

David E. Hayes-Bautista, PhD is Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is the author of the book upon which this commentary is based, El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition (University of California Press, 2012). He can be reached at dhayesb@ucla.edu. 

Nov 20, 2018

Latino Journal Names President Donald Trump As Man of The Year

  • The Increasing California Latino Political Influence
  • Trump on track to make California Republicans Irrelevant
  • Republicans are feeling the pain of future irrelevance in California
  • California voters affirm sanctuary status and reject xenophobia
By José L. Pérez, Latino Journal and Adrian Pérez, SacLatino Magazine

Though some vote counting is still going on in California, it is already too evident the large Latino population is beginning to express its numerical strength by increasing its political power.

Nationally, The Guardian published that the "Latino turnout up 174% in 2018 midterms elections, Democrats say." And continued, "The Hispanic community will have record level of representation in Congress with at least 42 members: 34 Democrats and eight Republicans." And, that was before Gil Cisneros won his congressional race in California.

As a result of the 2018 elections Latinos will hold a first ever 50% of California's Constitutional Offices; 25% of the State Legislature; 28% of the State Assembly and 17.5% of the State Senate; and 32% of the 53 House seats in Congress. Latino voters also helped turn the once super red county of Orange into a blue base.

California's Latinos are the most populous with over 40% of the population followed by Caucasians (38%), Asians (14%), African Americans (5.9%), and American Indians (2%) respectively. Based on the midterm election results, it is evident that Latinos are on their way to gain half of all California's political power within the next decade.

So, why are Latinos now increasing their political power?

A good place to start is with the xenophobic rhetoric against immigrants coming from former Republican California Governor Pete Wilson's Proposition 187 in 1994 and more recently from President Donald Trump who is using the caravan of desperate Central Americans as a tool to gather more support from those who share his philosophy.

Proposition 187 passed and would have barred undocumented immigrant access to health care, housing and education had it not been declared unconstitutional by the courts. However, it allowed Wilson to be re-elected as California's governor for four more years.

Proposition 187 bitterly angered California's Latino community, which has built steam for 24 years and there is no sign that it will break anytime soon. Few Republicans, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, have been elected to statewide office in California since, and none for the last eight years. The California Republican Party has become less relevant after this midterm election and unless things change, it will become extinct.

For example, in 1996, two years after his re-election, Latino groups were declaring Pete Wilson the "Man of the Year" for waking up the sleeping giant Latino community. During that period, millions of Latino immigrants began to switch their status from green card to U.S. citizenship, learning English and exercising their right to vote. Even our late elderly Mother got her citizenship after holding a green card since 1950 telling us "Para votar a contra Pete Wilson" (So I can vote against Pete Wilson.) Yes, this after Wilson had termed out of office.

The number of Latinos running and being elected into office in California began to substantially increase in 1996. The increasing number of Latinos in the Legislature allowed for a monumental change to take place in the halls of power in Sacramento. Former State Senator Richard G. Polanco, who chaired the Latino Legislative Caucus at the time, engineered the greatest increase in Latino political power by creating the dynamic to elect the first Latino Speaker of the State Assembly, Cruz M. Bustamante from Fresno. The number of Latino legislators in California grew to 30. Eventually, Bustamante was elected to Lt. Governor and the circle of power in the highest echelons of State government were penetrated by Latinos. So, yes, thank you Pete Wilson.

Fast forward.

In 2016 Donald Trump referred to Mexicans in front of all America as rapists, drug lords and criminals when he declared his candidacy for president of the United States. In the last two years President Trump's anti-Mexican and immigrant rhetoric again lit a fire under thousands of highly able and influential Latinos in California and across the nation who do not forget the vile actions of Pete Wilson. The anger became a national issue as Trump ignored the cries of Puerto Ricans after hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, creating a firestorm in social media of "hate Trump."

Today, as in 1994, Latinos find themselves shocked, surprised but much better prepared for the incredible disrespect they see and feel coming from the President of the United States.

Now, just as in California, we see the American Latinos reacting to Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric by increasing its voter turnout, especially for Democrats. As a result the influence on the political fortunes defined by significant Latino populations are shifting priorities in law making, enforcement and public resources. Latino public policy priorities include quality education, public safety, economic development (business & jobs) and civic engagement.

Across the country Democratic gains in Congress and Governor Offices were made because of an angry, excited and engaged Latino voting community.

There is little doubt that President Trump's immigration rhetoric reminded Latinos in California of Pete Wilson's hate towards Latinos, especially Mexican Americans. There appears no end in sight that will change that important and powerful American political dynamic of Latino anger towards Republicans. California Republicans are as omnipotent as can be and soon will expire due to their irrelevancy.

It is not surprising to see a surge of Latino civic engagement in California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Nevada, North Carolina, Illinois, New York, New Mexico and Florida. And, just like in California, the Latino community's political reaction to anti-immigrant rhetoric may last another 24 years as it spreads across America.

The California Republican Party leadership would have to beg for the Latino community's forgiveness in an unprecedented manner for them to even begin accepting Republican participation again to secure their long-term survival.

The ever-growing and substantial political power being gained in 2018 by the Latino community in California is unprecedented. Therefore, Latino Journal declares Donald Trump "Man of the Year" for inspiring this change.

Latinos, like everyone else, just want to be respected and treated as Americans. Nothing wrong with that.
 
Latino Journal was founded in 1996 in Sacramento, CA by José L. Pérez. Latino Journal provides non-partisan discussion and analysis on public policy, government and business. Future topics include education, economic development, civic engagement, and many other topics. It also convenes policy forums and receptions recognizing Leaders in government, community and business.
 
SacLatino Magazine was founded in 2008 in Sacramento, CA by Adrian Pérez to establish a voice for the growing Latino community in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys



Jun 21, 2018

Small Business Summit Held in Orange County

Business regulations, healthcare and taxes discussed.

WASHINGTON -- On June 15, The Latino Coalition (TLC), the leading, national non-partisan advocacy organization representing Hispanic businesses and consumers, and Job Creators Network (JCN), hosted the Small Business Rising Summit at the Marriott Irvine Spectrum Hotel in Orange County, CA.

Attracting over 200 dynamic business leaders, prominent executives and high-profile speakers, the Small Business Rising Summit featured deep-dive sessions that examined the impact of regulations, healthcare and taxes. Showcasing the importance of small business to the overall economy and how to leverage entrepreneurial diversity for optimal opportunities, the event highlighted key public policies and gave attendees the opportunity to build professional and personal networks.

"The Small Business Rising Summit in California highlighted the fact that the environment for small businesses to start and grow has never been more promising," said The Latino Coalition Chairman and former U.S. Small Business Administrator Hector Barreto. "Providing invaluable insight and resources for independent business owners, or 'founders,' the summit took a closer look at the historic economic success we are seeing thanks to policies that are good for job creation. America is on the rise again, and entrepreneurs are excited about opportunities that will unleash more of this nation's economic potential."

Headlining the event was former Secretary of Health and Human Services and Job Creators Network Fellow Tom Price. As a physician who has served in the legislative and executive branches, Price offered a unique perspective on the practical and policy implications of volatility in health insurance premiums.

Attendees also heard from business leaders and experts such as: Anna Cabral, former U.S. Treasurer; Carlos Contreras, Commercial Vice President at California Resource Corporations; President & CEO AltaMed Health Services; Zoila Escobar, President of AltaMed Foundation AltaMed Health Services Corporation; Jennifer Korn, Special Assistant to the President and White House Deputy Director for the Office of Public Liaison; Alfredo Ortiz, President and CEO of Job Creators Network; Thomas Sullivan, Vice President of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Maxine Turner, Cuisine Unlimited Chair, U.S. Chamber Council on Small Business; and Peter Villegas, Vice President of Latin Affairs for The Coca-Cola Company, among others.

"Last week's Small Business Rising Summit helped us personally connect with the driving force of our economy. Focused on this nation's job creators, the event touched upon the challenges entrepreneurs face today, while also serving as an effective tool to help build and improve small business development," said Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of The Job Creators Network.

A significant deliverable during the summit was Chairman Barreto's announcement of a new partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Job Creators Network and Latino's For Tennessee. These organizations join TLC's network of 100+ partners working to enhance the overall business, economic and social objectives of the Hispanic community.

President and CEO of Litografía Magno Graf, Armando Prida Huerta was recognized with the Sanchez to Sanchez to Smith Award for his successful career trajectory and unwavering leadership within the Latino community.

"With such an exciting time for the fastest growing sector of the economy, I am looking forward to our October 2nd Gala in our nation's Capital. We anticipate a historic gathering of the business community to celebrate the growth and prosperity of Latino business founders, and our contributions to the U.S. economy," Barreto added.

The Latino Coalition would like to thank the following Title Sponsor: Wal-Mart. TLC also acknowledges and is grateful for all its partners: AltaMed Health Services Corporation, Altria Client Services, Alvarado Smith, American Facility Service Group Inc., Association for Affordable Medicines, AT&T, Atticus Group Inc., Bank of America, Benefits Exchange Alliance, California Resource Corporation, Coca-Cola Company, Comcast/Universal, Direct Selling Association, East West Bank, Ecco Select, Google, Herbalife, Hispanic Business Roundtable Institute, H&R Block, International Franchise Association, Intuit, Koch Industries, McDonald's, Microsoft, National Association of Broadcasters, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, NV Energy, PG&E, PhRMA, Southern California Edison, T-Mobile, The Latino Coalition Foundation, The Libre Initiative, Tributo Tequila, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Univision, Verizon. Media Partners: Conexión, Finding Productions, Tico Sports Productions, LLC.

SOURCE The Latino Coalition

May 8, 2018

The American Civil War Origins of Cinco de Mayo

By David E. Hayes-Bautista
The NiLP Report (April 18, 2018)

Why is the Cinco de Mayo so widely celebrated in the United States, when it is scarcely noticed in Mexico? The answer to that question is to be found in the lived experience of tens of thousands of Spanish speakers residing in what is now the American West during the American Civil War.
 
What? Latinos in the American Civil War?
 
When Hidalgo proclaimed Mexico's independence from Spain in 1810, he also announced racial equality in citizenship and the abolition of slavery in the new republic. When the US seized control of the northern half of Mexico in 1848, it also acquired a large, Spanish-speaking, racially mixed (mestizo) population that was largely uncomfortable with the new US constitutional values that permitted slavery and denied citizenship to non-white persons.
 
Latino delegates successfully pushed the 1849 California Constitutional Convention to honor Mexico's earlier abolition of slavery, to allow non-white persons to become voting citizens, and to do so in both Spanish and English. California's entry to the US as a free state, without an accompanying slave state as mandated by the 1820 Missouri Compromise, nearly led to Slave State secession and civil war immediately. The compromise of 1850 staved off this war for a decade, and during that time tens of thousands of Spanish-speakers from every corner of Latin America poured into California and Nevada seeking gold and silver.
 
When the Civil War did erupt in 1861, Latinos in the American West overwhelmingly supported Abraham Lincoln and the United States against the Slave State Confederacy. Latinos joined the United States Army, and rode in units of Spanish Speaking US Cavalry: the first full admiral of the US navy was a bilingual, bicultural Latino, David Farragut. Yet, from the very first Battle of Bull Run, the Slave State armies rode a streak of luck, winning highly visible battles in the Virginia Theater of War, while Lincoln's army appeared unable to win the big battles.
 
Then, things got worse. Taking advantage of Lincoln's preoccupation with the Civil War, Napoleon III, the Emperor of the French, sent his army into Mexico for the purpose of destroying a republic with its constitutional values and installing Maximilian of Austria as a new emperor, who would then be free to make an alliance with the rebelling Slave States.
 
Latinos in the American West followed the advance of the French army through Mexico via the lively Spanish language press in San Francisco and Los Angeles. When the French army was only about three days' march away from Mexico City, the future for dark-skinned mestizos who might fall under the power of the Confederacy appeared to be bleak.
 
Like a streak of lightning in the dark night sky, the news arrived, and it was electrifying: The French did not make it to Mexico City to create a Slave State friend south of the border---they were stopped dead at the Battle of Puebla fought on Cinco de Mayo of 1862, and thrown back to the coast at Veracruz. Although the news arrived three weeks after the actual battle, Latinos in California, Nevada and Oregon immediately erupted into joyous, spontaneous celebrations, They then began to organize themselves into the first regional network of Latino community organizations, the Juntas Patrióticas Mejicanas. It was established in 129 locations in in the American West, to channel their economic support to Juarez for his purchase of arms and ammunition to fight the French, and their political support Lincoln. Each Junta met every month, three or four speakers would harangue the crowds at each meeting, and the focal point of most of the speeches was the victory of Cinco de Mayo.
 
Every year, the Juntas in many towns organized public events on the Cinco de Mayo as a public statement of where Latinos stood on the issues of the American Civil War: they opposed slavery and supported freedom; they opposed white supremacy and supported racial equality. Led by both the Mexican and the US flags, parades would march through the streets of towns and mining camps of the American West, speakers would energize the crowds, bands played music, the militia saluted with rifles and cannon, and then dances would last until the early hors of the morning.
 
Cinco de Mayo has been observed in Los Angeles every year since 1862, without a break. But the history of its origins as a civil rights commemoration has been lost over the past 160 years, and it has become reduced, in many cases, to "Drinko de Mayo."
 
It is time to take Cinco de Mayo back from drunken revelers wearing sarapes and straw sombreros, and return it to its origins as a Latino public statement of commitment to freedom, equality and democracy. I would encourage us all to commit to creating the 21
st century version, "Cinco de Mayo for social justice."
 
¡Que viva el Cinco de Mayo!   
 
David E. Hayes-Bautista, PhD
is Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is the author of the book upon which this commentary is based, El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition (University of California Press, 2012). He can be reached at dhayesb@ucla.edu.