Carlos Santana's Latest Tune on Immigration Reform

"I want to tell you to walk like lions, and to do so with dignity and purity, because 'Yes, We Can'."

By Nora Alicia Estrada - Impulso
Published on LatinoLA: September 26, 2010

Carlos Santana's Latest Tune on Immigration Reform

Carlos Santana encouraged a big crowd in Los Angeles to be on guard against racial adversity in the U.S., making the call just before he launched into a concert performance celebrating the 80th birthday of Dolores Huerta, the woman who is considered the guardian angel of immigrants.

Santana joined with an A-list of fellow performers -- including popular singer Lila Downs, a native of the Mexican state of Oaxaca; Zack de la Rocha, lead singer of the band Rage Against The Machine, and jazz musician Pete Escovedo -- at the "Weaving Movements Together" benefit concert held at the Greek Theatre on August 13.

The concert raised funds for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a non-profit group that provides support to undocumented farm workers in the U.S. Huerta is the co-founder, along with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farmworkers Union.

The concert in Los Angeles was shown live in 25 U.S. cities as part of the fundraising effort.

The concert also served as an appeal for Latino unity to fight for the rights of undocumented immigrants.

Other celebrities present to give their support to the movement were the actors and activists Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Benjamin Bratt, and Edward James Olmos. The roster of public officials in attendance included U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

"The Mexican patron saint is the Virgin of Guadalupe, but for us, in this country, Dolores is our patron saint," Santana told the audience. "This event is to tell our people to defend their own light -- to not become their own victims of this anti-immigrant and racist wave. I want to tell you to walk like lions, and to do so with dignity and purity because 'Yes, We Can.'"

Santana made a comparison between today's atmosphere surrounding immigration and his own experience as a native-born Latino-American who faced similar hurdles in an earlier era.

"Huerta and I were born in this country in racist times, and neither she nor I have seen borders, nor barriers nor flags," stated Santana. "To me those are an illusion. We are only one family in the eyes of God -- everything else is a story to separate people and make more money by selling fear because in this world all there is love and fear."

The multiple Grammy award-winner also said that the key to success is love, peace and walking through life without fear.

"There could be peace in this world during our lifetime, you only need to change how you think, that's all," he added. "I'm not afraid of anyone. I'm not afraid of going to Mexico at this time, nor to Iran, nor Israel, because God is with me. No fear -- I don't know fear. For everyone, God created a world of love so we could all have a place. Dolores Huerta is an angel -- she is a meaningful and special person for our community. "

Santana offered stinging critiques across the political spectrum.

"Fear is what Barack Obama has, and George Bush [had]," he said. "Fear is what they have in Arizona. We can change it with love. Love is human and fear is not positive."

Santana and Downs electrified the birthday celebration with a special interpretation of the song "Black Magic Woman." The crowd of approximately 6,000 paid $35 to $45 for entrance to the open-air venue, and another $20 to $50 for parking.

Prior to the Santana-Downs duet, each of the musical artists had their own time for highlight performances during the concert, which lasted almost four hours.

Santana reminisced with a revue of his hits, including "Corazon Espinado", "Super Natural", and "Samba pa' ti."

The Oaxacan-born Downs delighted the audience with "La Llorona" and "Cumbia del Mole."

Downs also took some time to laud Huerta.

"[She] is an admirable human being, because she has the courage to challenge the authorities in defense of our community, the workers and the underprivileged, and because she struggles for dignity and respect for our community," the singer said after her show.

The event also included Pete Escovedo, Martin Sheen, Ed Begley, Sheen revealed that his real name is Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez).

"I come from a family with a long history of immigrants, the actor most recently known for playing the President of the U.S. on a TV show called "The West Wing" said. "I'm the seventh son, and my real name is Ramon. Those who are against immigrants and comprehensive reform are the politicians and arrogant, immature and hard people. They forget that America has millions, millions and millions of immigrants and it's all of us. "

Sheen added that solving the immigration reform problem requires an honest and comprehensive debate.

"We don't need an authoritarian, discriminatory and racist attitude," he said. "What's needed is a compassionate and honest debate -- and that's what we're here for. We need to remind them of it.

The political overtones of the event were accentuated when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took the stage.

"We are here to celebrate the birthday of Dolores Huerta and to support the people who put the food on our table," Villaraigosa said. "Dolores has dedicated her life to defend those who have no voice. She took on a difficult role of struggle and activism in order to make a more perfect country."

President Barack Obama sent a video message offering congratulations to the 80-year-old activist.

"You have fought for many years to remind us of who we are, where we came from," Obama said. "And you have worked to organize farm workers and to improve a better country, and over time you continue to do so, and you inspire me and many others to work together so we can make a better country."

Huerta, who was born in Danzon, New Mexico to Mexican parents, is nationally recognized because, along with Cesar Chavez, she is a co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. She has dedicated her life to the causes of social justice, the rights of women, minorities, immigrants and human rights.

"Thank you all for supporting me, and for your contributions to the foundation, because this makes it possible to continue the movement benefiting the community," Huerta said between various versions of the traditional song "Las Ma??anitas" including renditions in English and Spanish. "But the celebration is not over, it's just beginning, and we still have a lot to do, such as comprehensive immigration reform, more rights for minorities, gays and more places for women."

Originally published at: Impulso, a member of LABeez.com, an online collaboration of ethnic media organizations featuring hyperlocal news content covering the metropolitan Los Angeles area.

About Nora Alicia Estrada - Impulso:
Nora Alicia Estrada is a writer for Impulso.
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