Time to remember


A valuable old friend passed away last week. I hadn’t seen her for a long time and knew much of what she had done in life had deeply influenced me, and I thanked her.

I met Juanita Malouff-Dominguez at the Crusade for Justice in the late 1960s and was beyond impressed. A delegation from the San Luis Valley had just returned from the Poor People’s March on Washington, DC and she was applauded for composing “Yo Soy Chicano,” today, a song of the movement whenever the south Valley celebrates.

A devout Catholic, she was a musician and performer and a crusader for the Chicano Movement and Women’s Rights.

When I was introduced to her, she was firmly paired with her husband, Emilio, and it was difficult to imagine one without the other.

They were married in 1957 and spread their influence far and wide.

They lived in Denver for 25 years and became pleasant parents to talented children. Their son, Emilio was the leader of a Chicano rock band and sold musical equipment, as did his brother JA. Sister Zarife outdid what her mother did, as did sister Theresa Mayer.

When they decided to move to the San Luis Valley, they brought with them many old traditions. Juanita became music director for Sangre de Cristo Parish and the community began to sing. “Las Posadas” was a Christmas tradition.

Emilio Sr. died at home and the community mourned. Juanita and Emilio were inducted into the Chicano Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2020, worked on the Year of The Chicana Exhibit at the Colorado History Museum.

My great sorrow is rooted in my own negligence. I didn’t visit her when I could and should have. Running into her at community gatherings was a joy.

I have no doubt that the Valley’s Chicano leaders have memories to share and some are influences in their own right.

Ann and Terry

I also learned that Ann and Terry Marshall have written another book. I treasure my copy of the fact-based novel, “Soda Springs” and am excited to get my hands on their latest, a romantic novel.

Their commitment to the people who were their neighbors around Center and, truly, wherever they traveled, was invaluable and I am glad they are benefiting from their abilities.

While they were living in Center, the lettuce strike was going strong and most of the area’s young activists participated.

The Marshalls were beginning their family and Ann went into labor on a picket line.

Many of the women prepared food to feed the protesters and my contribution was hot sauce.

It was hot. Sauce. Period.

One of the women boiled huge pots of beans, others made tortillas and Danny Rios kept us all motivated with chili.

Juanita and Emilio worked on the farmworkers’ cause in Denver and people came from Delano, California to spread Cesar Chavez’ message.

Progress

Recently, the US Congress got the message and began working on the needs of the farmworkers.

On Thursday,  the House passed two proposals that would legalize subsets of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission.

Joined by nine Republicans, all House Democrats voted to approve the American Dream and Promise Act, which passed by a vote of 228 to 197. The proposal would allow more than 2.3 million “Dreamers,” or unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, along with beneficiaries of certain temporary humanitarian programs, to gain permanent legal status and eventually, U.S. citizenship.

By a vote of 247 to 174, the Democrat-led House also passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of farmworkers living in the U.S. without authorization.

It’s time to celebrate.

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