By H. Nelson Goodson
May 28, 2013
Milwaukee, WI - On Tuesday, Mexican Fiesta organizers released multiple confirmations of entertainers to be presented at the three day Summer Spanish language music and cultural festival from August 23, 24, 25 at the Henry Mier Festival Grounds or Summerfest grounds. The latest confirmation was Bachatero Toby Love and Alejandra Orozco. Since early May, Mexican Fiesta announced that Paquita la del Barrio, a singer famous for her Mexican songs bashing men, Mariachi Joya de México, Banda Machos, Emilio Naviara and Fidel Rueda have been confirmed to appear at the lakefront festival.
Mexican Fiesta offers an array of traditional Mexican food, Tejano and Mexican entertainment, artisians and crafts from Mexico.
In brief history: Mexican Fiesta was the spin-off of Fiesta Mexicana, which began as a South side street festival in the early 1970's to help generate scholarships funds to help Latinos/as pay for their college tuition. Fiesta Mexicana had been run by several groups, the first was Latin American Union for Civil Rights, second by a local LULAC Chapter and then finally taken over by the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (WHSF), who opened a facility at 2997 S. 20th Street. WHSF has provided more than $800,000 in scholarships to students attending college, since it took over Mexican Fiesta in 1987.
Many of the original volunteers and organizers continue to participate in organizing today's Mexican Fiesta in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
It was created by Latino community educational activists who were originally involved in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) takeover of Chapman Hall and other parts of the university on August 27, 1970. That year, there were only 14 Hispanic students attending the university compared to 25,000 White students. Latinos wanted equal access to higher education.
"In Milwaukee many barriers existed blocking their paths to higher education. Their language and cultural distinctness were frowned upon, and they had limited access to information and few professional role models. Discriminatory treatment was the norm," cited from Myriad Magazine UWM 1990.
Four Hispanics were arrested on August 27, 1970, while engaged in a peaceful sit-in, protest and persistence to change UWM policy to allow Latinos to enroll. The four people arrested were Jesus Salas, Marla O. Anderson, Dante Navarro, Gregorio "Goyo" Rivera and Jose Luis Huerta-Sanchez. Navarro passed away on April 18, 2013 and Anderson passed away on May 1, 1984.
Latinos succeeded in gaining access to UWM and the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute (SSOI) was created in 1970. Then it was renamed to the Roberto Hernández Center in 1996. Hernández one of the key leaders of the educational movement in 1970 passed away in 1994. The SSOI was established to help recruit, counsel, advice and to retain enrollment of students at UWM.
This Summer, the historic takeover of UW-Milwaukee by the Hispanic community will mark its 43rd Anniversary of providing higher education to Hispanics and minorities, including low income whites who were once discriminated and kept from seeking opportunities in higher education. The lack of higher educational opportunities in 1970 for Latinos, blacks and other minorities even low income whites created a cheap labor force for Milwaukee and throughout the state over four decades ago.