Between 400-500 people registered as attendees as the California League of Latin American Citizens (CALLAC) conference conducted with the Asociacion Latina De Asistencia (ALDA) and other organizations was an outstanding success for educating and organizing around a series of issues, including education, housing, civil rights, labor organizing and health care. The conference was conducted at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar (San Fernando Valley) on September 14-15, 2012.
Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary – Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor was the keynote speaker. Maria and Felicia Sandoval of the California Teachers Association spoke eloquently against Proposition 32, a measure to be voted on in November which would emasculate labor unions’ ability to participate in political campaigns in support of their members’ interests and the rights of working people in general. They emphasized how overtime laws, occupational health and safety laws, free public education, and many other reforms were only implemented for all working people, not just union members, because of the labor movement’s ability to fight in the political arena.
Three-term Los Angeles Community College District Board member Nancy Pearlman explained the intricacies of financing of California colleges and universities and the LACCD itself. She pointed out that per capita (i.e., for each student) the State of California provides higher funding for the University of California, middle range funding for the California State University system, and the lowest level of funding for Community College students [given the class differentials in who tends to wind up in which system which are intuitively obvious, this funding differential reinforces class structures with the proles on the bottom and the existing elites on the top–jt].
Pearlman also noted that while people see lots of construction going on at LACCD campuses, this doesn’t mean that the district is flush with money. While the voters passed a bond measure for funding of construction of new facilities and campus improvements, these are funds dedicated to construction by law and cannot be used for instruction or campus maintenance.
A distinguished panel discussed a series of topics on the issues of health, sexual education, and domestic violence that confront both California and the United States. Patty Bellasalma and Linda Long dealt extensively with California legislation and budget issues that have gutted the protections for women from state and local government. Sherry Lear explained the politics and consequences of Republican blockage of the Violence Against Women Act re-authorization (VAWA, originally introduced and passed by then-Senator Joe Biden). Long time Latino health activist and former hospital administrator Jose Gonzalez spoke extensively on issues of diet and health affecting minority, and especially Latino communities. He pointed out that upon arrival in the United States, the immigrant diet is far more healthy than what they gradually adopt as they accommodate to typical fast food diets.
Along with CSU Northridge Professor (and former School of Humanities Dean) Jorge Garcia–one of my old professors–and Mission College Chicano Studies Professor Jose Maldonado, I spoke on a panel discussing the history and current challenges facing Chicano Studies, such as the attacks leveled against the discipline in Arizona’s ban of ethnic studies.
Kudos go out to Los Angeles Mission College President Monte Perez, and Mission College administrators Joe Ramirez, Jose Luis Ramirez, and Ludi Villegas for their instrumental roles in facilitating the conference. The distinguished students of the Mission College Culinary Arts program arranged the catering and hospitality for the conference. To the delight of Occupy San Fernando Valley activists at the Van Nuys “Fort Hernandez” defense against foreclosure which has been well-publicized throughout Los Angeles, excess conference food was donated to the occupiers.
Art entertainment was provided to children attendees by Norma Ramirez of SFV CALLAC and UFE (United for Education Coalition); an inspirational presentation was given by Kevin “Captain America” Foster, and two youth bands (link to videos to be placed here later) rocked the house at the end of the conference.