A man holds a portrait of Cesar Chavez at a mass in Los Angeles. Chavez was born on March 31, 1927. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
By Jesús Canchola Sánchez
Cesar Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona. My grandmother is a year younger than him. She was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. Cesar Chavez and my abuela (grandmother), Beatriz Soto, are a part of me. Their experiences, successes, and faults have constructed my identity in the United States. Without their stories, I wouldn’t have my voice. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Fall is my favorite time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are pretty, Amnesty International student groups are back together again, and people start signing up for the Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.
In this—the world’s largest human rights event—we use letters, cards and more to demand the human rights of individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. We show solidarity with those suffering abuses and work to improve people’s lives.
Four weeks from today, June 23, Troy Davis will get a day in court. Not a perfunctory hearing where lawyers and judges parse the written affidavits of all the witnesses who have recanted their trial testimony, but a real hearing, where those witnesses themselves will testify, in person and under oath, about what they really saw that summer night in Savannah, Georgia, more than 20 years ago.
The hearing may be filled with high drama, as the witnesses are likely to face vigorous cross-examination. And the outcome is far from certain. Because this is an evidentiary hearing, and not a new trial, Troy Davis is presumed guilty and must prove his innocence. And the directive to the judge from the Supreme Court – that he “make findings of fact” as to whether Troy Davis can “clearly establish” his innocence – does not exactly specify what the judge can do once those facts are found.
Which is why those of us who have worked so hard for justice in this case must not hold back now. June 22, the day before the hearing begins, will be a Day of Solidarity. A time to reflect on how far we have come in highlighting the fundamental unfairness in this case, and a time to show that we remain hopeful, but vigilant, and that we recognize the great challenge Troy Davis faces in the requirement to prove his innocence.
Solidarity events can be large (rallies, vigils, film screenings, speakers), or small (information tables, house parties or discussions). What’s important is that we all take action together. More information about the hearing and an Organizing Kit for taking action are available online, and you can register your event here. Please take action at this critical time!
I just got off the phone with a colleague in Mexico who has been working with the women of Atenco, and she told me she had come into her office after vacation to see that it was nearly filled with huge bags of mail. The bags were all stuffed with holiday cards bearing messages of solidarity and support for the women, sent by participants in AIUSA’s 2008 Holiday Card Action. “There must be over 10,000 of them,” she said, “the women will be so happy.”
Although New Year’s and the other holidays have passed, it’s not too late to take part in this solidarity action for the women of Atenco and 11 other individuals at risk. The action continues though the end of the month, so if you have any leftover holiday cards, this would be a perfect way to use them up. Or, if you’re like me and are only just now starting to write your holiday cards, why not send a few more? Most of us greet the new year with feelings of hope, determination, and optimism–sharing that spirit with others is a perfect way to start 2009.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.