The movement for the appointment of a Chicano/Latino Chancellor at the University of California, Riverside and a regent for the UC Board of Regents is now statewide. Under the auspices of the National Alliance for Human Rights (NAHR), an advocacy-oriented network of organizations and individuals, an unprecedented statewide mobilization was initiated last month, January 26, 2002 at a meeting held in Riverside.
The meeting was attended by some one-hundred and seventy Latinos leaders, who represented various state, regional, and local organizations and numerous sectors of the community e.g., academicians, professionals, business people, workers, clergy and students, from throughout California. Preparations are underway to once again bring together leadership from throughout the state for the second "Statewide Mobilization Forum." It is scheduled for Saturday, February 23, 2002 at University Heights Middle School, 1155 Massachusetts Avenue, Riverside. Registration starts 9:00 a.m. and the Forum is scheduled from 9:30 to 12:30 p.m.
According to Armando Navarro, NAHR coordinator, "This Saturday's Forum is strategically critical because of the time factor involving both the Chancellor and Regent appointments. In the case of the Chancellor position, we have a window of no more than four weeks and the regent's appointment can be made at any time. Time is thus of the essence. We need to accelerate our statewide mobilization efforts."
Since the January 26th meeting, the mobilization has gained increasing media attention; NAHR sent letters to both Governor Gray Davis and UC President Richard Atkinson; organizations and individuals have been encouraged to send letters as well; more organizations and individuals have come forth to support the effort; a list of some fifteen possible candidates for Chancellor has been developed and sent to President Atkinson; regent applicant Dr. Manuela Sosa submitted her application packet to Governor Gray Davis; and networking efforts were augmented by NAHR.
Of major political significance was the support garnered from Democrat Majority Leader Marcos Firebaugh at the state level and at the federal level from Democrat Congressman Joe Baca. Assemblyman Fire-baugh is seeking the support of the Latino Legislative Caucus and Congressman Baca has already secured the support of several Latino congresspersons from the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. Also, numerous other national, state, and local organizations have indicated support.
The Forum's agenda will focus on finalizing the mobilization strategy. Congressman Joe Baca is one of several legislators and state organizational leaders that will address the Forum participants on various aspects of the said strategy. California State University at San Bernardino Provost Luis Fernandez will also give a report on the ongoing efforts to develop a Chicano Studies Department and actor Edward Olmos has been invited to speak as well.
As of last week, NAHR has begun a letter writing and telephone calling effort exhorting organizations and individuals to write in support of the appointment of a Chicano/Latino chancellor at UCR and support for Dr. Manuela Sosa for regent.
Navarro adds, "It is a political year, both the Democrats and Republicans more than ever need the electoral support of the Chicano and Latino communities. We are the balance of power in California state politics. Consequently, this is a propitious time for us to demand their support for the appointment of Chicano or Latino as chancellor of UCR and regent to the UC Board of Regents. They need to show us that they support our inclusion into the governance of our institutions of higher learning."
For information on the Saturday, February 23, State Forum, please call Danny Morales at (909) 789-1943.