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Antonio Gonzalez Presente! A New Latino Environmentalism

We mourn Antonio Gonzalez’s passing with his family, and our compañeros y compañeras at the William C. Velazquez Institute and Southwest Voter Education Project.

Antonio is a hero to me, Latinos, and progressives across the nation and across borders.

Antonio worked with Raúl Macías, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, The City Project, and others to make Los Angeles better, greener, and more democratic. We formed Alianza de los Pueblos del Río when we “decided that development of a new L.A. River was a symbolic and literal convergence of a myriad of issues confronting L.A.’s Latino population. To be left out of the discussion, they realized, was to be left high and dry, as the river shifts directions into the future. Instead, the alliance . . . spearheaded river meetings and community outreach that have ballooned into a comprehensive new platform of urban Latino environmentalism. Part legal strategy, part organizing principle, this green movement en español has put people — immigrants and poor people, mostly — at the center of an issue traditionally focused on flora and fauna, and which has pitted some environmentalists against immigrants.” Evan George, Browning the Green Movement, L.A. Alternative 2006. This led to LA State Historic Park, Rio de Los Angelses State Park, revitalizing the LA River, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Baldwin Hills Park, school construction and modernization, and billions of dollars in park and school funds with unprecedented support from people of color and low income people. We changed Los Angeles, and more. The stuggle continues against green displacement for the people who fought to improve the quality of life for their families and friends.

Antonio organized my first trip to Cuba, and our support to restore relations between Cuba and the US, and end the US blockade.

Antonio assembled our U.S. Latino environmental justice delegation to the global Cochabama Conference on Climate and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, organized by President Evo Morales.

We traveled with the Latino and Black Delegation to the Environmental and Climate Justice Earth Day in D.C. in 2007. “The goal was for folks in the Environmental Justice community to articulate and press their concerns about climate on the Hill.” Vivian Shaw Buckingham.

Antonio would run interference for me with east side electeds. He would also laugh when he’d get me into trouble.

Antonio changed my life for the better.

Hasta la victoria siempre, Antonio.

Robert García

 

 

Photos The City Project CC BY SA NC | From top:

Antonio Gonzalez at Raul Macias Soccer Field, Grand Opening L.A. River Center 2009

Alianza de los Pueblos del Río Planificacion para la Revitalizacion del Río, Roosevelt High School 2006

Latino and Black Delegation to Environmental Justice Earth Day, at Senator John Kerry’s home with Antonio Gonzalez, Vernice Miller Travis, and Vivian Shaw Buckingham 2007

Cochabamba Global Climate Justice Conference 2010