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Phoenix’s Historical April 10 March and Over 200,000 Marchers in the Streets: The Youth, Higher Education, and the American Dream
By Manuel de Jesús Hernández-G
April 10, 2006, evening: I have made it on FOX National News—cable T.V. At the corner of Washington Street and 2nd Avenue, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon is shaking my hand. There is a helicopter flying high above. I am at the front of about 250,000 marchers— over 100,000 is the official number—who are all chanting, “¡Sí se puede! ¡Somos América! We Are America! Today we march; Tomorrow we vote! USA! USA! USA!”
On the same date New York City only brought out 30,000 into its streets. Los Angeles could not match us! I am in line with the other organizers: Roberto Reveles, Mary Rose Wilcox, Rep. Kyrsten Synema, Alfredo Gutiérrez, Elías Bermúdez, Rep. Ben Miranda, Emilia Bañuelos, Lydia Guzmán, Nadia Barrios, Martín Quezada, Carlos García, Nicolás Villagrana, Wendy Ramales, Rev. Jarrett Maupin, Marysol Ángulo, Danny Ortega, Tony Herrera, Linda Herrera, Martín Manteca, Lynda Hernández, Antonio Velázquez. These organizers represent a coalition made up of humanitarian, environmental, church, union, indigenista, student, and immigrant groups.
Since 1:00 p.m. we have been marching next to each other—arm in arm, street wide—and seeking to keep a straight line from the moment we walked out of the Arizona State Fairgrounds onto Grand Avenue, turned wide left on Van Buren Street, a sharp right on 3rd Avenue, another sharp right on Washington Street. After Phoenix Mayor Gordon shakes all our hands, we will continue marching straight to the State Capitol, where a rally will be held. My fellow marchers tell me that people are still coming out of the Arizona State Fairgrounds and joining the march. That is a long, long, long chain of people marching to the Capitol! Moreover, all along the route we have had many supporters lined up along both sidewalks. Ocassionally, an anti-immigrant carried a sign asking us to go back to México. At such time, marchers thundered the cry: ¡Aquí estamos y no nos vamos! We are here, and we are not leaving!
Congressmen Ed Pastor and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva joined us and are marching in the line made up of the organizers who worked extremely hard to make a reality the April 10 March. Soon after Phoenix Mayor Gordon shook our hands, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard came out of an office on the left side of Washington Street. In unison, the organizers called out several times for him to join us. At very tall man, he did! Goddard marched with us all the way to the State Capitol. We have definitely made history! City officials did declare that over 100,000 marchers took the streets of Phoenix, Arizona! Radio 1190 AM claimed, “De 200,000 a 250,000 personas marcharon en las calles.” From 200,000 to 250,000 people took the streets.
The actual organizing began on Thursday, March 30. Then a flurry of follow- up meetings took place. On Monday, April 10, I arrived at the Arizona State Fairgrounds around 10:00 a.m. Once parked, I contacted Nicolás Villagrana, and with his help and that of other friends, I was able to distribute the 20,000 copies of the Ethics Rules for Mutual Respect. I finished about twenty minutes before I was to give my speech. I then quickly navigated through the thousands of persons at the rally and soon made my way to the podium.
Right after I arrived at the podium, I gave my speech in Spanish. Entitled “New Migrants: Arizona’s Colleges and Universities Make Available the American Dream,” I generally followed its written version as presented below in English: Yes, brothers and sisters! Today we are going to March! About 100,000 here in Phoenix, Arizona. Thousands and millions in fifty cities across the country! Tomorrow we will vote! Somos América! We are America! In November we are going to vote! We need to kick the anti-immigrants out of office, like Russel Pierce, John Kyl, and the Maricopa Attorney General: Andrew P. Thomas. We want just immigration reform! We want a path to American citizenship! We want to unify our families fragmented by an outdated and cruel immigration system! We want our human rights and civil rights! We want workplace protection for all workers! And we want the opportunity for our youth to pursue the American Dream! Those are the key five messages we have for our U.S. congressmen and senators who last week failed to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The best path to the America Dream is education, especially higher education. We need to graduate from high school. Currently, in Arizona only four out of six Latino or Hispanic youth graduate from High School. That is a crime! We need to encourage our high school students to enroll in a community college or a university. We in the Arizona Association of Chicanos for Higher Education (AACHE) ask all parents to encourage their children to plan attending the university. It involves a fifteen-year savings plan. Start now, today!
The migrants who were given regularization back in the 1980s had among their rank individuals with a university education. That is, they brought to the U.S. a title from a university in their country. They then retrained at a community college or a university. Now they are professionals recognized at the national level! We have Univisión’s Jorge Ramos, the essayist Ilan Stavans, and the novelist María Amparo Escandón. A university education speeds up the path to American citizenship and the American Dream. We also have those who arrived into the U.S. as children or adolescents and are equally famous: Piolín de la Mañana, María Hinojosa, and el Cucuy de la Mañana.
We know that the new immigrant wave has its own outstanding models. The Wilson Four won a competition against students at the Massachusetts of Technology— the best technological university in the country. We have many more among the 11,000,000 who are locked in a struggle for regularization, for example, Güendi, Mari, Luis, and many more. That is why AACHE fights for greater inclusion of Hispanics or U.S. Latinos in the university classroom in Arizona and the rest of America.
AACHE believes that higher education is the best path for speedily obtaining American citizenship, family reunification, our human rights and civil rights, workplace protection, and the American Dream. Just ask Alfredo Gutiérrez, Rosa Tequida, Daniel Ortega, Emilia Bañuelos, Coach Paco, congressman Ed Pastor, and the Wilson Four.
Yes, sisters and brothers! Today we march and tomorrow we vote! Let us do it with our forehead held high, with human dignity. Let us vote in November! ¡Somos América! We are America!
Too bad FOX National News, cable T.V., did not catch my speech. It featuresthe best path to the American Dream, especially for the young. The speech also expresses indirectly my main reasons for having helped organize the historic April 10 March in the streets of Phoenix, Arizona. The historic demostration was featured in The Arizona Republic. A six-column headline and a six column photo that featured a father carrying on his shoulder his smiling daughter with an American flag—amid a sea of marchers dressed in white and carrying also American flags— covered the front page in all caps and bold letters: “MARCH OF STRENGTH.” Below such impressive headline read a subhead: “Over 100,000 Rally in Phoenix for Immigration Reform.” Linked to that sea of marchers I am being seen on FOX National News.
Now we only need to help the incorporated organization Somos América/We Are America to pay its outstanding debt of over $50,000 dollars.
Contact Dr. Hernández: email@example.com