Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Insult to Injury

Fifth in a series of posts about the January UUA Board meeting

Cesar Lopez is no ordinary community organizer. Though come to think of it, I have not met many ordinary community organizers. His combination of passion, knowledge, and humility enables him to provide a compelling case for what he believes in.

Cesar was one of our hosts at Tierra y libertad organization (TYLO), along with Imelda and Teresa. He clearly had more organizing experience, but was coaching and mentoring the two younger women, supporting them as part of the leadership of the organization. Radio Station KPFA (Berkeley) was in Tucson at the TYLO house at the same time we were to interview Cesar as part of their nationally syndicated program Flashpoints -- you can hear that interview here. Cesar starts 17 minutes into the one hour program, but it is all worth listening to, including the interview with two Tucson high school students about the elimination of ethnic studies.

Signed into law last May by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, the law makes it a crime to "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." According to the interviewed teens, the popular ethnic studies courses at Tucson High had made a huge difference in the lives of those who took them, significantly increasing standardized test scores and almost doubling graduation rates. The interview also contains a conversation with a teacher of ethnic studies who has refused to stop teaching them, and has been arrested along with several other teachers.

Next post: what else the UUA Board discussed

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