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Our Time Is Now. Our Movement Can Win. Cinco de Mayo is OUR Holiday.

Tell Mayor Quan: Oakland is NOT Arizona
March on Cinco de Mayo!

March on May 1st, March on May 5th, and Keep Marching Until We Win the Dignity, Respect, Equality and Freedom We Deserve.

Rebuilding the Independent Youth-led Mass Mobilizations of 2006 is the Key to Victory!

  • 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 provide 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 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!

 SUNDAY, MAY 5 (CINCO DE MAYO):

12PM: March from 98th Ave. + International (Oakland)
2PM: Rally & Celebration at 34th Ave. + International (near Fruitvale BART)

All Out for Cinco de Mayo, May 5!

No year is 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 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 the 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, neighbors to the economic interests of the ruling elites. Our movement can and will determine the outcome of the immigration reform legislation.

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, large and small. 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 the history of this nation. 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 in Oakland, 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 have the same rights as NAFTA provides for what we produce. We can finally win the federal DREAM Act that is so long overdue. Oakland has the power and commitment to independent mass militant action to make Cinco de Mayo the movement’s holiday. 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. The oppressed can win right now when we stand and fight together.

Oakland is the most radical city in America today. Our proud history of mass struggle and the power of our integrated fight against racism and for equality mean that when we act, the nation takes notice. Our strength comes from our diversity and the ability of Oakland’s Latina/o and black communities to stand side by side and make the joint struggle for freedom as brothers and sisters. Latina/o, black, Asian, Arab, Native American, and white, immigrants with and without papers—we are all Oakland; we are all Californian; and we are all American.

For the past two years, the Mayor and City Council have “cancelled” the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Oakland—supposedly because the city is too poor to hire the police to act as security. This is absurd and completely unacceptable. Nobody is going around “cancelling” St. Patrick’s Day or the Fourth of July. We do not accept that a handful of politicians gets to deny us the day we celebrate our pride, our heritage, and the heroic fight for Mexican independence against imperialism.

First of all, we don’t need police at our holiday. Second, this has nothing to do with the cost of anything—Mayor Quan, the City Council, and all the powers that be in the Bay Area know and fear the real Oakland. These politicians scramble for any excuse to avoid large crowds, especially large crowds of young people, because they know how much social power we have when we act collectively and they know just how potentially explosive any mass gathering actually is. We fully intend to harness the power of our movement to make sure this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration is a celebration by and for the movement.

From the general strike in 1946, to the Black Panthers, to the fight against South African apartheid, to the 1996 Oakland teacher’s strike, to the massive immigrant rights movement of 2006-07, to the fight against police brutality and Justice for Oscar Grant, right through to the Occupy movement and the fights we are waging today for dignity, labor, civil rights and immigrant rights—Oakland leads the nation.

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 be and should be: a beacon of hope, democracy, 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, state, and nation are ours and each of us has won the dignity, respect, equality, and freedom that we deserve.

Why Oakland Must March on Cinco de Mayo: A Holiday Born From the Joint Struggle of Mexicans and Ex-Slaves for Freedom

battle-puebla

The Battle of Puebla

No holiday represents the power and spirit of Oakland’s proud history of integrated, independent struggle more than Cinco de Mayo. The first Cinco de Mayo parades in California beginning in 1868 consisted of anti-slavery Mexican-Americans and ex-slaves marching together—many in Union Civil War uniforms—to celebrate the victory of Mexico’s army against the French in 1862. Mexican miners and other workers flocked to California during the Civil War. In 1862, Napoleon III sent 6,000 French troops to invade Mexico in order to open a port in Mexico to aid the confederate slave owners. At that time, the South looked like it might win the war if it could find a way to continue to export cotton and import the support and supplies they needed to win a war of attrition. When a much smaller, poorer, and inadequately armed Mexican army defeated the French invasion, they bought time for the Northern Union army to win at 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 the greatest freedoms for the oppressed ever known in human history, ex-slaves and other Union soldiers went to Mexico to fight side by side with their Mexican brothers and sisters, finally expelling Napoleon III’s army from Mexico for good. Cinco de Mayo was born in California that year.

The date Cinco de Mayo was not the day that Mexico defeated the French invasion; rather, it was the day that the poor and oppressed of Mexico defeated what was considered the greatest army of that era, the French, and made 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 celebrations of both the shared victories of the newly emerging Chicana/o movement and Dr. King’s civil rights movement against the old Jim Crow. In the 1950s, inspired by the success of anti-colonial struggles occurring across the world, Cinco de Mayo became the holiday celebrating the national independence of Mexico and the struggle for freedom of the oppressed worldwide. Nothing embodies Oakland more than 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 and equality, dignity, and proving that victories can be won when the oppressed unite and fight as one.

Cinco de Mayo is Oakland’s holiday, the best of who we are, have been, and strive to be. Abandoning Cinco de Mayo is denying our identity and our right to determine our destiny. Cinco de Mayo has been the one holiday in which we have worn our Mexican flags with joy and without criticism. It has been the day that Latinas/os, especially those from Mexico, have been able to celebrate the pride, fighting spirit, defiance and independence of the people of Mexico. Since we rose up in 2006, the scared and obedient, self-declared business and civic misleaders of Latina/o communities throughout America have preferred to shut down or depoliticize Cinco de Mayo celebrations to hold our movement back and mute our anger and pride. It’s time to end all that. This Cinco de Mayo we’re standing proud, on our feet, united in struggle. This Cinco de Mayo, we’re in the streets fighting for freedom and equality. This Cinco de Mayo, we march!

 

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