Feb 072005
 
Authors: Daniel Linn

A captive audience had the opportunity to hear Dr. Carlos Leal give an overview, and in many ways recount, the history of the Latino civil rights movement in America.

The event, which happened Monday, entitled "The Latino and Civil Rights Movements," is a part of Black History Month. It was organized by El Centro Student Services and Black Student Services. The event, according to Tony Daniels, assistant director of Black Student Services, aimed to give the audience a look at the contributions of different cultures to the civil rights movement.

"We want to dispel the myth that the civil rights movement is only about people of color," Daniels said.

El Centro is a student organization whose purpose is, according to its mission statement, "to serve and support the Chicano and Latino students and to provide a comfortable atmosphere in which students feel appreciated and safe."

The event was just one in a series of Black History Month programs.

"We really want it to be an all-inclusive month," said Willie Wooten, the primary coordinator of the event and president of the Black Definition Student Organization.

The keynote speaker, retired professor of Hispanic studies at the University of Northern Colorado, Dr. Carlos Leal, spoke about the important roles the Latino community played historically in the civil rights movement, and in some cases recounted his own experiences in the matter.

"I served in an army that was in the process of desegregation," Leal said.

Leal recounted the experiences of fighting between cultures, and how it weakened the effectiveness of his unit. He recalled a friend in a military uniform who was refused service in a restaurant because of his skin color.

"It was an education for me," Leal said. "I didn't think it was that bad, but it was."

The fight for equal rights, according to Leal, didn't come from minority groups alone.

"It wasn't just them, it was us," Leal said. "You have to keep in mind it wasn't just minorities, it was people who believed in justice."

Leal said wars played a crucial part in the civil rights movement, acting as a great mixing pot of cultures and races. World War II, according to Leal, was where great things began to happen.

"It really changed families," Leal said. "It liberated women in a sense, women went to work."

Leal said he did not stand for civil rights on his own, and mentioned civil rights leaders such as Cesar Chavez.

"I stood on shoulders," said Leal. "We all have."

Leal covered the topics of education, affirmative action, and the importance of being informed. Leal said he required his students to buy newspapers when he taught at UNC. He encouraged the audience to go to the library and research the civil rights movement, and to "do your civic duty" by gaining education.

El Centro Director Lupe Salazar enjoyed the event.

"I loved it," she said.

Salazar said she encourages students to become more involved on campus and that students are welcome to stop by El Centro.

According to Sheena Martinez, a junior sociology student involved with El Centro, said the office, located in Student Center room 178, is always open to all students.

"It's a support system for students at CSU," Martinez said.

Martinez said that anybody is welcome in the El Centro offices.

"It gives students a chance for (them) to come here to learn more about our culture," she said.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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