AARP Eye Center
I recently took part in a roundtable discussion at the AARP Colorado state office in Denver with local Latino representatives. We met to discuss the unprecedented number of events occurring in 2020 that will showcase Latino presence and influence on American society.
The discussion revolved around Cesar Chavez Day, which is celebrated in Colorado as an official holiday. Next year is the 55th anniversary of the grape boycott that launched the farm workers labor and civil rights movement led by Chavez and others.
The AARP Colorado Latino advisory committee, El Comité — which I am a member —
declared at a recent meeting that the significance of the anniversary is heightened in light of 2020 being an election and Census year. Registering to vote and getting counted are priority items for Latino activists across the country, including members of El Comité
Then, it came to our attention that other high-profile events and activities would take place in 2020, such as Year of La Chicana at the History Colorado Center In Denver and the presidential election, of course, which would include state and local offices — the results of which will impact the lives of Latino families.
It became apparent to us that so many significant events occurring in 2020 would provide a golden opportunity to promote the presence and influence of Latinos in Colorado on a number of cultural fronts. We also agreed that this could provide an avenue for promoting the annual Cesar Chavez Day March.
We presented the idea to those Latino representatives at the most recent meeting and received resounding encouragement and support, as well as an agreement to participate in the promotion of their own and other events. I, too, was encouraged in a way I hadn’t felt since beginning my writing career in the late 70s.
That was the decade, in which I first heard of “the Arrival of the Hispanics in America” as a political, cultural and economic force to be reckoned with. To me, it seemed to be portrayed as some sort of sudden impact — that the rest of the country would wake up one day and exclaim with enthusiasm, “Wow, look at all these Hispanics!”
It didn’t happen that way, though. The “Arrival, or celebration” didn’t happen in the 80s, either. Instead, Hispanics — soon to be called Latinos — seemed to lose influence and standing during the 1980s. There was a recovery during the 1990s, then came the disastrous 2000s. The Obama years were, in my opinion, neutral for Latinos. Which brings us, of course, to the present — and we know where we stand now and what we need to do.
It came to me as I sat at the El Comité meeting that there was real substance to Latino strength in helping set things straight in the coming year. Or I should say, Latina strength — of the dozen or so gathered, all but three were women. What’s more, it occurred to me that the “Arrival” had come — just not in the tsunami-style fashion I had envisioned, but like a steady, unstoppable water flow that just kept growing. Not just in Colorado, but across the country.
That water flow will be unleashed in 2020 if the group’s plans come to fruition. Those plans include inviting more cultural organizations in the community to take part in a coordinated effort too big, too impressive to be ignored. I plan to use this blog platform to keep everyone posted on what transpires and do it in the memory of Cesar Chavez.