July 3, 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
The American G.I. Forum held its yearly statewide convention in San Jose this past week. It brought into focus the many issues of concern to the California Hispanic community. The Conference also highlighted the many achievements of the G.I. Forum.
The G.I. Forum a veterans organization, was established in Texas, in 1948, to overcome the discrimination that Latino World War II veterans encountered upon return to civilian life in the United States.
The G. I. Forum has since its inception been a source of support to Latino veterans but early in its existence turned its attention to other areas of concern such as education and scholarship opportunities for their youth and voter registration. The San Jose chapter, this year alone, awarded almost $75,000.00 in scholarships to 65 Hispanics youths, in Santa Clara County.
Besides the Forum’ continued interest in the areas of veterans rights, education and political empowerment, this powerful and well organized group increased attention to the economic development of the Hispanic community.
Through the efforts of the G.I. Forum, banking institutions in California in the coming years are promising to provide billions of dollars in economic opportunities to the Hispanic community over the next decade.
According to a recent report by the Forum‘s legal counsel. The Security Paciﬁc Bank has agreed to a $24 billion commitment to inner cities for low income residential and economic development. This is one example among many other banking institutions that have made, or are in the progress of making, similar agreements with the G.I. Forum.
Similar arrangements of benefit to the Hispanic community have been entered into with some of the major utility companies. The Forum is also pressing for reform in auto insurance company policies that are detrimental to the Hispanic community such as “‘redlining” which disallows insurance policy sales in certain (usually low income) communities.
Attending the two different conference sessions were both state gubernatorial candidates. Diane Feinstein, the ex-mayor of San Francisco and the Democratic candidate for governor, addressed the group Friday night. Senator Pete Wilson, the Republican Party candidate for governor addressed the conference group Saturday morning.
Both of the candidates will have to provide more specifc plans than they presented during the conference for the voters to evaluate the candidates’ policies in order to determine their voting preferences in an informed manner.
Feinstein expressed her gratitude to the veterans and paid tribute to their leadership role in California. With regard to education, Feinstein is suggesting the establishment of a statewide Head Start program. She says that funding for such a program would come from increasing the percent age of lottery dollars assigned to education. She also suggests appointing a “drug Czar” whose responsibility it would be to coordinate “a balanced strategy at rate of strong law enforcement and effective prevention and treatment. Part of the effort will be the deployment of the National Guard at ports and borders and the use of surplus military bases for training and treatment centers for first-time offenders. Prevention programs in schools and treatment will be expanded (for) addict medical care job training and other services.”
She has received the support and endorsement of the San Jose Chapter of MAPA. MAPA in its endorsement of Feinstein pointed to her previous record of support for Affirmative Action, housing, children‘s programs and improved educational services. Feinstein in her speech pointed out the abysmal lack of health services available to many youngsters in California and the nation.
The Democratic Party candidate has promised to continue her strong commitment to; affirmative action in “every aspect” of California’s public and political life; attention to worker safety and the establishment of a “Teacher Corp” to work with “at risk” youth.
Pete Wilson in his comments regarding education seemed to attribute the lack of educational achievement, of today’s youth, to drug abuse and proposes having police assigned to teach at each grade level in order for students to understand and know the effects and dangers of drug use and abuse. He proposes that this project be like Project DARE and be a regular part of a school’s curriculum.
Two questions asked of Senator Pete Wilson revealed a degree of party independence. Senator Wilson says that he will vote to override the President’s veto of the “family leave” bill approved by the US. Senate. He also does not support Governor Deukmejian’s proposal to deny cost-of-living increases to welfare and supplemental Social Security recipients in order to balance California’s upcoming budget.
Mr. Wilson did promise the G. l. Forum leadership that whether or not he was elected Governor of California he would support the Forum’s proposal calling for a Veteran’ retirement/rest home in Los Angeles and would work hard to assure its construction and funding.
Senator Pete Wilson has been nominated by the President of SER-Jobs, a non profit job training program, to be honored at the National Council of La Raza’s second biennial Congressional Recognition dinner in Washington D.C. this September. SER Jobs lnc. is recommending him to be honored for “his continued and long standing commitment in addressing the interests of the Hispanic community.”
SER points out that Wilson was instrumental in securing federal funding for the SER-Jobs Inc. Family Learning Center program in East Los Angeles and that Wilson also supported passage of S. 1310 legislation calling for the first national policy to combat illiteracy. Wilson co-sponsored the “Augustus F. Hawkins – Robert T. Stanford Elementary and Secondary School Improvement Act of 1988” which authorized the workplace Literacy and English Literacy Grant Programs.
One of Friday’s highlights was the performance of the balladeer Lalo Guerrero who entertained the group with both Spanish and English songs, evoking much laughter. Mr. Guerrero has a beautiful, clear, melodious tenor voice. He accompanies himself on the guitar and sings mostly songs of his own composition. His wit, humor and musical ability made the evening memorable. One song about Olvera Street in Los Angeles hit close to home causing locals to recall the recent controversies in San Jose involving the Studio Theater and the still unresolved issue of where to place, if at all, the Fallon statue.
The G. l. Forum conference in San Jose ended with the Grand Ball and the coronation of the new queen who this year is Monica Renee Gomez.
The Forum has accepted a leadership position within the larger Hispanic community. The conference topics and discussions revealed just how extensive and successful this powerful and well organized group has been in achieving many of the objectives they have set out for themselves. There is yet much work to be done. This year the conference reflected the increasing alliance of the G. I. Forum with corporate America. Co-sponsors with the G. I. Forum of the conference were American Savings Bank, Pacific Bell, R.J. Reynolds, Anheuser-Busch Inc. Southwest Medical Group. Coors Brewing Company and the San Jose Mercury News.
Victor Garza, of San Jose, is the California Chair of the American G. l. Forum.