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NOW, MORE THAN EVER—Our Time Is Now. Our Movement Can Win.

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MARCH FOR FULL RIGHTS AND DIGNITY FOR ALL

Stand Up for Detroit! Stop the Attacks on Our Schools and Neighborhoods!

Join the BAMN contingent! Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, 12 Noon at Patton Park

No year has ever been more important to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  Our movement has the opportunity to make and shape history right now. For the first time since 2006, new federal immigration legislation is on America’s political agenda.

The Senate’s “Gang of Eight” has released the first draft of their Comprehensive Immigration Reform proposal and the House is preparing their own version. Over the next few months, the specific details will be debated out through committee hearings, testimony, expert recommendations, and all the usual mechanisms of a business-as-usual political process.

It is our job to make sure there is no business-as-usual.

We absolutely reject the premise that the politicians in Washington DC get to dictate, limit, and subjugate our future and the futures of our friends, family, and neighbors to the economic interests of tiny ruling elites. Our movement can and must determine the outcome of the immigration reform debate.

The last round of federal immigration reform—the anti-immigrant HR 4437 bill that would have made every undocumented person immediately a criminal—gave birth to the immigrant rights movement of 2006-07, which defeated that racist, reactionary bill virtually overnight and changed the course of American history. Millions of people marched in hundreds of cities across the nation. Our mass mobilizations shut down major metropolitan areas and small rural towns alike. The rallies and marches in 2006 were the largest civil rights demonstrations in American history. The spectre of 2006 is still haunting the halls of Congress, the White House, and every city hall and county administration building in places where the Latina/o and immigrant communities represent a vibrant and growing social and political force.

If we mobilize and march in the thousands this year, we can make Cinco de Mayo not just a celebration of our past achievements but a march aimed at winning full citizenship rights for all undocumented immigrants, defeating the new Jim Crow, and opening the borders so that people will have the same rights as NAFTA provides for what we produce. We can finally win the federal DREAM Act that is so long overdue.

The Detroit area’s proud immigrant and minority communities, in all their rich diversity, have shown the strength to make Cinco de Mayo the joyous holiday of a new immigrant rights and civil rights movement determined to win equal rights and dignity for all. We marched on April 10th in Washington, D.C., an integrated, BAMN-led contingent from Michigan and California, some 300 from our Detroit area. Loud and proud, we voiced the yearning to breathe free of the vast crowd mobilized before the capitol to demand real immigrant rights now. We can ensure Cinco de Mayo becomes a celebration of the enormous victories for immigrant rights, civil rights, the environment and human dignity and progress.

We who have been oppressed can win right now when we stand and fight together.

We celebrate our diversity, our commitment to integrated struggle, our pride at being the angry, defiant people that refuse to accept a life devoid of hope or opportunity. We can transform this country into what it claims to and should be: a beacon of hope, of democracy, of progress and opportunity; a place where everyone can develop their full potential, realize their dreams and aspirations, and be full and equal participants in this society. We have fought and we will fight until this city, this state, and this nation are ours and each of us have won the dignity, respect, equality, and freedom that we deserve.

Why Detroit Must March on Cinco de Mayo

Some Lessons From History: A Holiday Born From the Joint Struggle of Mexicans and Ex-Slaves for Freedom—A Holiday to Celebrate the United Struggle We Need to Save Our Communities

No holiday represents the power and spirit of Detroit’s proud history of integrated, independent struggle better than Cinco de Mayo.

The first Cinco de Mayo parades in California, beginning in 1868, consisted of anti-slavery Mexican-Americans and black former slaves marching together, many in Union Civil War uniforms, to celebrate the victory of Mexico’s army against the French in 1862—a victory against both colonialism and slavery.

In 1862, Napoleon III had sent 6000 French troops to invade Mexico inorder to open a port in Mexico to facilitate French conquest and to aid his allies, the Confederate slave owners. At that time, the Confederate slave owners looked like they might win the war if they could find a way to continue to export cotton and import the supplies they needed. When, on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla, a much smaller, poorer, and inadequately armed Mexican army defeated the French invasion, they bolstered the Union naval blockade and bought time for the Union army to win at Antietam, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg and begin its march to victory.

    The victory of the Mexican army at Puebla was not enough to immediately expel the French. However, in 1868, after the Civil War had ended and Radical Reconstruction in the South was winning, recently-freed black slaves and other Union soldiers went to Mexico to fight side-by-side with their Mexican brothers and sisters, finally expelling Napoleon III’s colonial army from Mexico for good. Cinco de Mayo was born in California that year.


Cinco de Mayo was not the day of Mexico’s final defeat of the French invasion—that would take another five years of heroic struggle. Rather, Cinco de Mayo was a day when the poor and oppressed of Mexico defeated what was considered the finest army of that era, the French, making the possibility of victory clear to the Mexican people, and making Mexico’s great contribution to the war against slavery.


After World War II, when Cinco de Mayo celebrations were reborn in California and Texas, they became both celebrations of the shared victories of the newly emerging Chicana/o movement and Dr. King’s civil rights movement against the old Jim Crow. In the 1950’s, inspired by the success of anti-colonial struggles across the world, Cinco de Mayo became a holiday celebrating the national independence of Mexico and the struggle for freedom of the oppressed, worldwide.


Cinco de Mayo, then, is a holiday born out of the fight of slaves for freedom, the defeat of the old Jim Crow, and the right of Mexico and other nations to self-determination. The real Cinco de Mayo is about freedom, equality, and dignity, and the proof that victories can be won when oppressed  people unite and fight as one.


Cinco de Mayo in Detroit embodies the spirit of Detroit’s historic contributions to the struggle for freedom. In Detroit, the day expresses the Latina/o and black communities’ determination to fight together for justice. The day symbolizes our common commitment to resistance against the attacks on our rights, resources, and opportunities—our struggles against oppression from the Civil War to the 1967 uprising to today’s struggle to save our schools and neighborhoods.

Full citizenship rights for all people who live here, go to school here, work here, and otherwise contribute to this society. Latina/o, black, Asian, Arab, Native American, white, immigrants with and without papers—we are ALL Americans.
Open the borders—give people the same rights that NAFTA provides to the corporations for unrestricted passage across borders.

  • No more deportations.
  • Make all young people brought by their parents full citizens now.
  • No fines for the millions of people without papers who are here now.
  • Stop long probationary periods for people to gain citizenship. Create a quick and cheap pathway to citizenship for all undocumented people.
  • Pass the federal DREAM Act now!
  • Join the new movement to stand up for Detroit: No more school closures! Stop the attacks on our schools and neighborhoods!

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About The Author

BAMN is a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action,integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.

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