Forum to Address Status of Latinos March 7

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Latino scholars, community leaders and activists will meet at the University of California, Riverside on Saturday, March 7, to discuss the status of Latinos in the United States.

The student-organized conference – “California Forum on the Status of Mexican@s and Latin@s in the U.S.: Empowered or Powerless?” – is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Materials Science and Engineering Building 0116. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested and may be made online. Parking is free.

Ethnic Studies professor Armando Navarro said forum speakers will address issues that affect the Latino population, such as poverty, jobs, education, health, immigration policy, the role of Latino voters and why so many did not participate in the 2012 and 2014 elections, the projected role of Latino voters in 2016, and Mexico’s state of crisis.

According to the Census Bureau, there are approximately 54 million Hispanics in the United States, about 17 percent of the total population. The Hispanic population is expected to double in size by 2050. In California, nearly 40 percent of the population is Latino.

Despite the numbers, Latinos are not represented proportionally when it comes to holding public office, graduation from college, or income, Navarro said. “This is intended to be an educational forum examining the present status of Latinos today and where we go from here,” he said.


The forum is organized by students in Navarro’s undergraduate course “Chicano Politics in Comparative Perspective.” The students, who call themselves the Alliance for Change Today, formed committees that collaborated on event details from choosing the theme and identifying speakers to handling publicity and arranging the facilities.

“As a young Latina scholar, I was unaware of the work that still needs to be done among the Latino/Chicano community and how it affects our nation as a whole,” said Alma Ramirez, a forum organizer. “This event is one to promote change for a more promising future for us young people.”

Kelsey Moore, media and literature lead for the event, said, “This forum is important to me as a Caucasian female because as a future teacher knowing the struggles and status of the Latin@s in the U.S. and especially in California will help me better understand and assist Latin@ students in their future endeavors.”

The forum will begin with keynote speaker Isabel Garcia, an attorney and executive director of Coalición de Derechos Humanos, discussing the impact of President Obama’s executive orders that would defer the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants. Coalición de Derechos Humanos is a grassroots organization based in Tucson, Ariz., that promotes human and civil rights for all migrants.

Navarro, a political scientist and longtime professor of ethnic studies at UC Riverside, will address details of his new book, “Mexicano and Latino Politics: The Quest for Self-Determination – What Needs to be Done.” He is the author of numerous articles, book chapters, monographs, and reports on Chicano/Latino politics, Chicano political history, redistricting, community organizing, social movements, immigration, and education.

Also speaking will be Jose Angel Gutierrez, a professor of political science at University of Texas-Arlington and founder of the Center for Mexican American Studies at UTA. He has been the subject of many articles and film documentaries, the most recent being the PBS series “In Search of Aztlán.”

The first panel, “Status of Mexican@s/Latin@s Today,” will include:

  • Victoria Baca, a special education advocate, businesswoman and former mayor tem of Moreno Valley. She was the first Latina elected to the Moreno Valley City Council.
  • Rodolfo Acuña, professor emeritus of history at California State University, Northridge. He is a recipient of the Gustavus Myers Award for the Outstanding Book on Race Relations in North America.
  • Enrique Murillo Jr., professor of education at CSU San Bernardino. He is the founder and editor of Journal of Latinos and Education, and founder of the National Latino Education Network.
  • Jose Perez, publisher and editor of Latino Journal. The magazine, which Perez founded in 1996, aims to provide a non-partisan analysis of government and public policy from a Latino perspective. In 2014 Latino Leaders magazine called Perez one of the nation’s Most Influential Latinos in Energy.
  • Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia, who was elected in November 2014 to represent much of the Coachella Valley and Imperial County. In 2006, at the age of 29, he was elected mayor of Coachella.
  • Antonio Gonzales, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute, a national Latino public policy and research organization. Time Magazine named him one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America in 2005.
  • Miguel Tinker Salas, professor of Latin American history and Chicano/a Latino/a Studies at Pomona College in Claremont.

Members of the second panel, “Where Do We Go from Here? Long- and Short-term Strategic Actions,” will include:

  • Jose Calderon, professor emeritus of sociology at Pitzer College. He has been honored by California Campus Compact for building partnerships between communities and higher education, and by United Farm Workers for contributions to the farmworkers’ movement.
  • Carlos Montes, a national leader in the Chicano, immigrant rights and anti-war movements. He is a co-founder of the Brown Berets and the Southern California Immigration Coalition.
  • Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association. He is the national director of Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, a community service and advocacy organization for immigrants.
  • Herman Baca, a Chicano activist, political organizer, co-founder and longtime chairman of the Committee on Chicano Rights. He is known for his community-based grassroots organizing.
  • Joe Baca, who served in the California Assembly from 1992 to1999, in the California Senate in 1999, and in Congress from 1999 to 2013.
  • Felipe Aguirre, former mayor of Maywood who was elected to the City Council in 2005. He is legal coordinator of Comité Pro Uno, a Los Angeles-area-based migrant advocacy group.
  • Benjamin Prado, under-secretary general of Union del Barrio, an independent political organization.
  • Diego Paniagua, MEChA national chair. He has served MEChA as Raza Youth Conference coordinator, Internal co-chair, and most recently chapter External along with Southern California Regional chair. He is  an Intern for the CSU Northridge California Faculty Association chapter.

For more information contact, or call (951) 743-7173.

Mary Ann “Maria Anna” Gonzales

Maria Anna


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