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The Black Press: Our Trusted Messenger

Our Black newspapers are now celebrating 194 years of being the keeper of the flame of liberty and the source of information in “our” struggle for freedom and equality.

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Cover of the Oakland Post

Sometimes it’s necessary to be reminded who we are and who our friends are.  It’s also important to remember from whence we have come. 

Such is the case this week with the Black Press. Our Black newspapers are now celebrating 194 years of being the keeper of the flame of liberty and the source of information in “our” struggle for freedom and equality.

With the advent of the recent pandemic and the visible disparity of Blacks dying at greater numbers than others, getting fewer vaccines, working in the highest risk occupations and death at the hands of law enforcement, our need for a “trusted” source of information is greater than social media, which has become an alternative for many.

 At the same time, the interest in reaching our communities has increased on all levels. The question has become “who is in touch with the Black community” as injustice, murder and social disparity continues to grow among Blacks. 

The NAACP and the Urban League gave the impression that they were in touch with the Black community. But the reality is neither organization has ever been in touch with the Black community without the Black Press.  It is Black newspapers and not CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS that carries the articles and commentaries of these organizations to the Black community. 

Yet, neither of these organizations ever mentions the Black Press when taking both credit and dollars for outreach to the Black community.

The African American and Black communities of America should not be duped into believing that social media has become a substitute for the Black Press. The Black Press is now both print and electronic, it’s a newswire service as provided by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), providing coverage of both news here in America and around the world.

 It is the Black Press that has been the “Trusted Messenger” to our communities for 194 years, and that says a lot. Our newspapers are the rear guard, the battle ground against the efforts to resegregate America and return to “Jim Crow” racism.

As we celebrate Juneteenth, let us remember that we are not only free but capable of defending and determining our futures if we get serious. Let’s remember how we got here, on the backs of those like the Black Press who bought us thus far; let us not forget in the words of James Weldon Johnson: that “ we have come over a way that with tears has been watered, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.” We are still being slaughtered today by others as well as each other.

Let’s remember who is truly telling our story and our obligation to keep and support that effort. Pick up a Black newspaper and get involved. You owe that and more to keeping the Juneteenth principle of freedom alive today.

Editor-in-Chief note:  The Post News Group consists of nine newspapers:  Oakland, South County, San Francisco, Vallejo, Marin, Stockton, Richmond, Berkeley Tri-City and El Mundo.  We are also online at postnewsgroup.com.

Arts and Culture

Richmond Preps for Full Weekend of Cinco de Mayo Festivities

Cinco de Mayo festivities in Richmond and San Pablo are some of the bests in Bay, and organizers say that tradition will be alive and well at this weekend’s annual parade and festival. The action kicks off Saturday, May 4, with the 16th Annual Cinco de Mayo Richmond/San Pablo Peace & Unity Parade. The parade of floats, performances, and community organizations starts at 10 a.m. at 24th Street and Barrett Avenue and Richmond and ends at 12:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, 1845 Church Lane in San Pablo.

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Scene from the 2023 Cinco de Mayo parade from Richmond to San Pablo. Photo courtesy The Richmond Standard.
Scene from the 2023 Cinco de Mayo parade from Richmond to San Pablo. Photo courtesy The Richmond Standard.

By Mike Kinney

The Richmond Standard

Cinco de Mayo festivities in Richmond and San Pablo are some of the bests in Bay, and organizers say that tradition will be alive and well at this weekend’s annual parade and festival.

The action kicks off Saturday, May 4, with the 16th Annual Cinco de Mayo Richmond/San Pablo Peace & Unity Parade. The parade of floats, performances, and community organizations starts at 10 a.m. at 24th Street and Barrett Avenue and Richmond and ends at 12:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, 1845 Church Lane in San Pablo.

The parade’s Grand Marshall this year will be community organizer Diego Garcia, owner of Leftside Printing.

The festivities continue Sunday with the Cinco de Mayo Festival along 23rd Street, which last year drew over 100,000 people, according to the 23rd Street Merchants Association. This year’s festival will again run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. between the intersections of Rheem Avenue and Clinton Avenue. It will feature two entertainment stages, one sponsored by La Raza 93.3 FM at 23rd and Rheem, and another sponsored by Radio Lazer FM at 23rd and Clinton.

Both events are important for the city and the region’s Latino community.

San Pablo Mayor Genoveva Calloway, who co-chairs the parade alongside John Marquez, president of the Contra Costa Community College District Board of Trustees, says Saturday’s festivities are about bringing the Richmond and San Pablo communities together in unity.

“This truly connects the spectators and people in the parade as one,” Calloway said. “The parade showcases the real communities of Richmond and San Pablo – our nonprofits, schools, horse riders, classic cars and trucks, our local businesses. All of these people represent the heartbeat of our community.”

Rigo Mendoza, vice president of the 23rd Street Merchants Association, said that at its heart, Richmond’s Cinco de Mayo Festival celebrates the date the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

But John Marquez started up the popular festival to bring the community together and also to exhibit the community’s businesses and culture to visitors, Mendoza said. The gathering was also a way to promote peace in the community.

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California Black Media

Cinco De Mayo: Five Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Popular Mexican American Holiday

To explore the historical significance of Cinco De Mayo, we step back to the origins of the commemoration, share how some Mexican American Californians regard it and trace how it has morphed into the celebrations we see today.

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Shutterstock
Shutterstock

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media  

To explore the historical significance of Cinco De Mayo, we step back to the origins of the commemoration, share how some Mexican American Californians regard it and trace how it has morphed into the celebrations we see today.

Celebrations in the United States began in 1862 in Columbia, California, a small town located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Tolumne County, according to that town’s website.

Today, millions of Americans celebrate Cinco De Mayo annually with 120 official celebrations organized across the United States.

This day has become a cultural point of pride for Mexican Americans and other Latino communities in the United States. It serves as a time to affirm and celebrate their cultures with other Americans of all backgrounds as they highlight their contributions to American history and society.

Joseph Soltero, a Mexican American living in Escondido, shared his perspective on Cinco de Mayo with California Black Media. He learned about Cinco De Mayo from his grandfather and talked about the extent to which his family and San Diego County community celebrate the holiday.

“We knew September 16 was really Mexican Independence Day, but kids in my school would always mistake Cinco De Mayo as our Independence Day. [Cinco De Mayo] is not really even a Mexican holiday,” said Soltero. “It’s something people do to have an excuse to buy drinks, have fun and spend a little money at taco shops.”

Like Soltero, many Mexican Americans (and other Latino Californians) do not take the support and solidarity they receive from people of other races on Cinco De Mayo for granted. They also appreciate when people take the time to learn about the cultural significance of the day and avoid some of the cultural tropes that can easily whisper undertones of racism.

To help raise your awareness about the origins and cultural significance of the day, here are 5 little known facts about Cinco De Mayo:

  1. Cinco De Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. This military victory on May 5, 1862, over the French forces of Napoleon III was hailed as a symbol for Mexican resistance to foreign influence.
  2. The holiday was not given much historical significance outside of Puebla, and it has not been celebrated on a large scale in Mexico. However, during the Civil War, Mexican Americans in California, Oregon and Nevada who supported the Union drew inspiration from the victory over the French-backed Confederate forces.
  3. The Chicano civil rights movement in the 1940s gave a new energy to celebration of the holiday in the United Sates as a symbol of national pride.
  4. In the 1980s and 1990s, beer companies’ marketing strategies targeted Mexican Americans by encouraging them to celebrate their heritage – and Cinco De Mayo –with Coronas, Bud Light, and Dos Equis. This created the perceived connection between Cinco De Mayo, alcohol, and merrymaking.
  5. Los Angeles hosts the largest Cinco De Mayo celebration in the country.

As we join Mexican American Californians to celebrate Cinco De Mayo next week, let’s deepen our cultural understanding.

Let’s use this occasion to commit to learning more about our neighbors, colleagues and friends of other races and ethnicities.

This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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Commentary

Opinion: Lessons for Current Student Protesters From a San Francisco State Strike Veteran

How the nation’s first College of Ethnic studies came about, bringing together Latino, African American and Asian American disciplines may offer some clues as to how to ease the current turmoil on American college campuses over the Israel-Hamas war. After the deadline passed to end the Columbia University encampment by 2 p.m. Monday, student protesters blockaded and occupied Hamilton Hall in a symbolic move early Tuesday morning. Protesters did the same in 1968.

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iStock Photo
iStock Photo

By Emil Guillermo

How the nation’s first College of Ethnic studies came about, bringing together Latino, African American and Asian American disciplines may offer some clues as to how to ease the current turmoil on American college campuses over the Israel-Hamas war.

After the deadline passed to end the Columbia University encampment by 2 p.m. Monday, student protesters blockaded and occupied Hamilton Hall in a symbolic move early Tuesday morning.

Protesters did the same in 1968.

That made me think of San Francisco State University, 1968.

The news was filled with call backs to practically every student protest in the past six decades as arrests mounted into hundreds on nearly two dozen campuses around the country.

In 1970, the protests at Kent State were over the Vietnam War. Ohio National Guardsmen came in, opened fire, and killed four students.

Less than two weeks later that year, civil rights activists outside a dormitory at Jackson State were confronted by armed police. Two African American students were killed, twelve injured.

But again, I didn’t hear anyone mention San Francisco State University, 1968.

That protest addressed all the issues of the day and more. The student strike at SFSU was against the Vietnam war.

That final goal was eventually achieved, but there was violence, sparked mostly by “outside agitators,” who were confronted by police.

“People used the term ‘off the pigs’ but it was more rally rhetoric than a call to action (to actually kill police),” said Daniel Phil Gonzales, who was one of the strikers in 1968.

Gonzales, known as the go-to resource among Filipino American scholars for decades, went on to teach at what was the positive outcome of the strike, San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. Gonzales recently retired after more than 50 years as professor.

As for today’s protests, Gonzales is dismayed that the students have constantly dealt with charges of antisemitism.

“It stymies conversation and encourages further polarization and the possibility of violent confrontation,” he said. “You’re going to be labeled pro-Hamas or pro-terrorist.”

That’s happening now. But we forget we are dealing not with Hamas proxies. We are dealing with students.

Gonzales said that was a key lesson at SF State’s strike. The main coalition driving the strike was aided by self-policing from inside of the movement. “That’s very difficult to maintain. Once you start this kind of activity, you don’t know who’s going to join,” he said.

Gonzales believes that in the current situation, there is a patch of humanity, common ground, where one can be both pro-Palestine and pro-Israel. He said it’s made difficult if you stand against the belligerent policies of Benjamin Netanyahu. In that case, you’re likely to be labeled antisemitic.

Despite that, Gonzales is in solidarity with the protesters and the people of Gaza, generally. Not Hamas. And he sees how most of the young people protesting are in shock at what he called the “duration of the absolute inhumane kind of persecution and prosecution of the Palestinians carried out by the Israeli government.”

As a survivor of campus protest decades ago, Gonzales offered some advice to the student protesters of 2024.

“You have to have a definable goal, but right now the path to that goal is unclear,” he said.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. A veteran newsman in TV and print, he is a former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

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