On October 25, the District Elections Committee of Santa Barbara held a fund-raising luncheon at the Westside Community Center, which I attended. The District Elections Committee (DEC) is a dedicated group of people advocating neighborhood representation for their community. They are pushing for district elections for a more fair representation under the California Voting Rights Act, which is the law in California.
The meeting was very informative, with speakers Tom Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), and Barry Cappello, attorney for the district elections plaintiffs. Both gave very persuasive arguments under the law why district elections should be implemented in Santa Barbara. The audience comprised a cross section of the community — Latinos, Asians, blacks, and whites. Mickey Flacks and her husband, Dr. Dick Flacks, who were in the beginning opposed to districts, were at least listening and contributing positive questions that were answered by Cappello and Saenz.
As I looked around at the crowd, I saw no Chicano professors from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). They had been invited to come and support the Latino community as the community had supported them in the late ’60s. As a young man in the Chicano Movement in Santa Barbara, I remember going to the university along with many UCSB Chicano students as we picketed for a Chicano Studies Department. With community support and other support, the university adopted Chicano Studies and the Chicano Studies Department under Jesús Chavarria. I was recruited by William Villa, recruiter for Chicano Studies Department, and attended the university from 1970-72. I was very grateful to the Chicano Studies Department for its help.
At that time the department was very much involved in the Latino community. What has happened since then? Has complacency taken over, as in, “I have my job now so don’t bother me”? You people out there in La La Land, as some refer to you, had better do a little research on how the doors at UCSB were opened for you. It was the young Latino people of the community of Santa Barbara that made it possible for you to have the jobs you have today. Yes, I know you worked and studied hard to get to UCSB but do not forget who opened las puertas (the doors).
And let’s not forget Santa Barbara City College professors, why were you not at the DEC meeting? And La Casa de la Raza — district elections would help you greatly — where were you last weekend? Let’s all try to give a little back to the community with a donation to District Elections Committee of money or your time as those community people gave of their time to help you many years ago.