The Progressive Magazine – Cesar Chavez & Archbishop Oscar Romero

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By Randy Jurado Ertll

The last week of March is a time of remembrance for Latinos. We celebrate Cesar Chavez’s birthday, and we honor the memory of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Chavez was born on March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona. His parents and siblings worked the fields in California, as he did. He served in the U.S. Navy for two years and then returned to the fields.

In the 1950s, he became an organizer (a much-maligned profession) with the Community Service Organization, and in 1962, he co-founded, with Dolores Huerta, the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers.

With his commitment to nonviolence and his hunger strikes, Chavez drew national attention to the plight of farmworkers and was instrumental in bringing them a modicum of justice.

Romero was born on August 15, 1917, in El Salvador. He entered the priesthood as a young man. A traditionalist for most of his life, Romero became much more liberal when he was appointed archbishop of San Salvador in 1977.

He denounced the widespread poverty in his country. And he condemned the military’s common practice of torture and assassination of peasant organizers, unionists and human rights activists.

Romero himself was assassinated by a right-wing death squad on March 24, 1980, while celebrating mass. A huge crowd of about 250,000 attended his funeral.

Today, the Vatican is considering making him a saint.

These two iconic heroes had something in common: an unbreakable belief in Catholic spirituality and a true commitment to social justice.

Even as we celebrate both of them this week, we should remember they were quite controversial in their day.

Chavez was seen by some as a rabble-rouser.

Romero dared to take on the power structure in his country.

They both chose not to follow certain established rules. They both denounced inhumane laws and practices.

They were willing to fight for the invisible people. And they both had an extraordinary connection and commitment to farmworkers.

In fact, it was the campesinos (the farmworkers) who revolutionized Romero. He met with them often and saw their pain and suffering. He decided to take on their fight for respect and equality. He chose to give his life for the Salvadoran people.

Chavez and Romero made the powerful uncomfortable. And they sacrificed their health in doing so. But they did not sell out. No one was able to buy Chavez or Romero, and they shunned material possessions and wealth.

They were not perfect. For instance, Chavez was not fully supportive of undocumented immigrants. He was not enamored of Central American undocumented immigrants who allegedly had communist leanings or those he perceived as a threat to farmworkers who were here legally.

But both men made a huge difference. They showed all of us how powerful we can be if we stand up for our beliefs, even if it means breaking the rules, even if it means risking our lives.

Randy Jurado Ertll ( is the author of the book “The Life of an Activist: In the Frontlines 24/7.”

The Progressive Magazine

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We need to revise our approach to fathers who fall behind in their child support payments.

Too often, they lose all custody of their children, and they often end up in jail, especially if they are black or Latino.

The county and court system is biased toward giving full custody to mothers since the stereotype has been established that minority fathers are unfit to be parents.

Many counties use outdated child support formulas and a punitive cookie-cutter approach to any father who is behind in his child support. This is especially the case when it comes to Latino or black fathers who become unemployed.

Counties typically report delinquent child support payments to all of the credit bureaus. Then the attorneys for the counties gather information that will be eventually used against the father. They want to know why he can’t obtain a job, even when the economy does not allow millions to find employment.

They make the father fill out tons of legal paperwork, which can result in thousands of dollars paid to family law attorneys. But many low-income fathers cannot afford to hire adequate legal representation, and so they are at an even bigger disadvantage.

Most counties proceed to take the driver’s license of the father away, which makes it more difficult for him to find or keep a job. Ultimately, counties file criminal charges against the father, who may end up in jail for noncompliance of child support.

That’s how counties, through their Department of Child Support Services, turn many minority men into criminals.

The vicious circle gets even more vicious, as these fathers then will have an even harder time finding a decent job once they are released from prison with a criminal record and a ruined credit history.

There has to be a better way.

Yes, the mother deserves child support, and the child deserves it, too. But when the father cannot pay it, due to no fault of his own, counties and courts should not throw the book at him.

Almost every father wants to provide for his child. Let’s make it easier, not harder, for him to do so.

Here’s one way to do it: Take part of the money from Child Support Services and put it toward job training for fathers. Give them a chance to take this route, rather than force them down the path to prison.

Randy Jurado Ertll ( is the author of “The Life of an Activist: In the Frontlines 24/7.”

Upcoming Book Signing at the Pasadena Central Library on Sat. Feb. 22 at 10:00 a.m.

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Please join us for the ‘Love Our Authors Celebration’ on Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. I will have my books available. 

Location: Pasadena Central Library Auditorium

                    285 E. Walnut Street

                    Pasadena, CA 91101

For more information, please visit:


UCLA book talk – discussion



LA OPINION newspaper – new book profile


Randy Jurado Ertll comparte su vida de activista

En “The Life of Activist”, el profesor y escritor plantea que “el enojo y la amargura no es necesariamente la respuesta antes las injusticias sociales”.

El director ejecutivo de El Centro de Acción Social en Pasadena presenta su nuevo libro de referencias e investigación.

El director ejecutivo de El Centro de Acción Social en Pasadena presenta su nuevo libro de referencias e investigación.


Foto: Cortesía
PUBLICADO: DEC, 19, 2013 11:08 PM EST print article increase font size decrease font size

“El enojo y la amargura no es necesariamente la respuesta” ante las injusticias sociales que afrontan las comunidades. Así lo plantea el activista, profesor y escritor Randy Jurado Ertll, en su nuevo libro “The Life of Activist”.


En la nueva publicación, el director ejecutivo de El Centro de Acción Social en Pasadena se centra en su vida como activista para “contar historias universales y de activistas conocidos y no reconocidos”; así como de las organizaciones comunitarias en Los Ángeles que defienden a las comunidades desventajadas y a los inmigrantes.


“En [The Life of Activist] hablo de personas que por décadas, día tras día, han estado o estuvieron trabajando por el bienestar de otros”, dijo Jurado Ertll vía electrónica a La Opinión. “El sufrimiento y sacrificios de conocidos activistas son lecciones que las nuevas generaciones de jóvenes necesitan saber y aprender para que continúen la lucha dejusticia social”.


El nacido en Los Ángeles, y criado en El Salvador hasta la edad de cinco años, se refiere a activistas como César ChávezMalcolm X y otros que “el tiempo ha olvidado”, y que él recuerda en una narrativa, de no ficción y en inglés, de historias reales y con investigaciones académicas, impresa en un libro de pasta dura con más de 100 páginas.


“Creo que con mi libro le doy humanidad a personas como Malcolm X —quien fue demonizado cuando vivía—, y otros activistas [hombres y mujeres] que pagaron un precio muy alto —y algunos hasta dieron sus vidas para ayudar a otros— para crear unasociedad más justa y equitativa”, denotó el también profesor.


El autor de “Esperanza en tiempos de oscuridad: La experiencia de un salvadoreño americano” —su primera publicación— se enfoca en su nuevo libro en tres antiguas organizaciones comunitarias en California y Estados Unidos: Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF, 1963), El Centro de Accion Social (1968) y elMexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF, 1968).


Jurado Ertll dedicó su libro a Jesucristo “por ser el primer activista de la historia de la humanidad. Él, en realidad, estableció el ejemplo y los métodos para hacer community organizing, sin dinero pero con un gran corazón, con una gran dedicación, y sin violencia”.


Por su contenido investigativo, el también profesor de universidad asegura que su nueva publicación “aporta un análisis real y académico de los diferentes movimientos socialescomo de derechos civiles, en el campo de la pro-inmigración y lo ambientalista”.


“Varios capítulos [del libro] hablan sobre cómo recaudar fondos, cómo organizar a la comunidad, cómo escribir columnas para influir la opinión pública, cómo organizar conferencias de prensa y trabajar con los medios de comunicación”, detalló.


El graduado de la Azusa Pacific University compartió que su labor como activista empezó cuando ingresó al Occidental College y “me involucré con la organización estudiantil MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) y después creamos CASA (Central American Student Association)”.

El dato

“The Life of Activist” está disponible en Barnes & Noble, AMAZON, y VROMANS Bookstore en Pasadena. Para más información sobre el nuevo libro u otros de Randy Jurado Ertll, visitar

Upcoming book signing at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC)



Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 – 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC)

UCLA CSRC Library – 144 Haines Hall




To protect and defend

To protect and defend

Events involving minority arrests show police need more civilian control

By Randy Jurado Ertll 10/30/2013

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Pasadena is well known for its many citizen boards, making it difficult to understand why certain officials would resist establishing an independent police commission, one that would help represent the views and concerns of all of the city’s residents.
Along with many other police agencies across the country, the Los Angeles Police Department, which for many years was seen as an occupying force in that city’s poor, minority communities, especially in the 1980s, has a police commission, one comprised of well-known and competent members.
Under the heading “The Function and Role of the Board of Police Commissioners,” the LAPD Web site states: “The Board of Police Commissioners serves as the head of the Los Angeles Police Department, functioning like a corporate board of directors, setting policies for the department and overseeing its operations. The board works in conjunction with the chief of police who acts as a chief executive officer and reports to the board. There are five civilian members who make up the Board of Police Commissioners.”
Why is the city of Pasadena so far behind on this issue, especially if there is really nothing to hide or fear with regard to the conduct of its police officers? Why do city officials object to this idea, especially now, when there is so much for people to be alarmed about?
A shocking report recently published by the Pasadena Star-News demonstrates why such a commission is needed. The story states that primarily Latino and African-American youth accounted for more than 90 percent of all arrests and citations. The city of Pasadena has requested this data to be further analyzed. But what really needs to occur are changes in policies regarding community policing and procedures involved with the racial profiling of minority drivers, especially young people. These and many other issues, including procedures used in investigating police shootings of minorities, need to be addressed.
Some elected officials have said they provide independent voices on the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, and that the job the committee does in overseeing police behavior is good enough. But many disagree. The current committee members include Council members Jacque Robinson, who serves as chair, John Kennedy, Steve Madison and Gene Masuda. Almost half of the population in the city of Pasadena is Latino, but not one Public Safety Committee member is Latino or Latina. What a shame.
Some people have said that if residents are allowed to be part of a police commission, they would then be thugs, or they would at least be representing thugs. That is a racially biased mentality, with people inferring that all minorities are potential gang members themselves, or have gang ties.
Then there are those who erroneously believe that people with accents would not be competent enough to serve on such a commission. That is discriminatory, racist and just plain ignorant. Being bilingual is a plus in our society. Having an accent should not be perceived as a negative. If anything, being able to habla español should be viewed as an asset.
We have many upstanding people who could be part of a city police commission. Of course, they would need to be representative of our community in terms of diversity.
Just as Pasadena prides itself on hosting Caltech, the Rose Bowl, the Rose Parade and many other outstanding institutions, the mayor and City Council should look into adding a Pasadena Police Commission to its list of community treasures. Such a move would show to the world that Pasadena is a city of intellect and political transparency, one that supports and protects the civil and human rights of its residents.
The NAACP Pasadena Branch, the ACLU, the Flintridge Center, El Centro de Accion Social, All Saints Church and other key community groups need to join forces and start demanding real change.
The blatant targeting of minority youth can no longer be tolerated. This is not a Third World country, a dictatorship or some authoritarian regime. This is the United States of America, where all of our constitutional rights must be protected by any means necessary. A good joint effort at protecting our rights would be the formation of a city police commission.
Randy Jurado Ertll is the author of “The Life of an Activist: In the Frontlines 24/7.” Visit

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