Just a Thought: Activist Jaime Martinez (si se puede!)
By Steve Walker
By Steve Walker
For the past six weeks I have been writing about Hispanic icons from
and other places I have
personally encountered over the years. San Antonio
This week’s column is about my friend and union activist Jaime Martinez who I have marched with on picket lines on
SW Military Drive
as well as the annual Cesar Chavez March for well over 15 years. Jaime is the
one who for many years spear headed the push to get City Council to rename a
local street in Cesar Chavez’s memory. When all was said and done, the Council
voted to rename Durango Boulevard,
Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
Si Se Puede!
Unlike most of the other Hispanic icons I have known and written about for La Prensa, I met him through a friend who I worked with at
who served as
a hall monitor. My buddy Pete Munoz grew up with Jaime and even played in a
band with him back in the day. Back in the 90s Pete talked about Jaime all the
time. Eventually we met and became friends as well. McCollum
A man of the people concerned with civil rights, Jaime was obviously a very close friend of Cesar Chavez who I wrote about a few weeks ago. They worked together in the movement for many years. In 82 I interviewed Jaime’s friend (before I knew Jaime) for KENS 5 when he was here for a protest. I can see why Jaime and Cesar were friends with the same purpose and mission in life to speak for those who were unable to speak for themselves. Jaime continues to speak out when others don’t always step up to the plate.
As one who taught for a number of years in the Southside community of predominately Hispanics to include
School, and two
middle schools in the district, I could see first hand how these two icons
impacted the community. Harlandale
One time I recall walking a protest line with Jaime in a boycott of local groceries selling produce that was picked by low paid migrants in California that were forced to live in substandard conditions as well.
I had my sign which I held up in front of me. I was a little nervous since I taught down the street from McCollum and was worried some of my students would see me and talk about it at school.
Jaime told me, “Lower your sign so people can see who you are.” Timidly I lowered my sign and within 5 seconds I heard a voice from a passing car yell, “Mr. Walker what are you doing?” Embarrassed for the moment I told her what I was doing. She yelled, “Si Se Puede!” Relieved I continued to picket. Sure enough Monday morning everyone in the school heard that I had walked the picket line!
Over the years I have participated in the Cesar Chavez March with my friend Jaime including this year. As a photo blogger I have captured the march in photos for years. Although Jaime is battling some health issues, he keeps his head up and his spirits high.
I look forward to our continued friendship as he along with the other icons; have also made a huge difference in my life. Si Se Puede!
Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist. His column “Ask the Judge” column ran in La Prensa for the last two years.