October 8th, 2012
08:00 PM ET

Boxer comes out fighting

By Jim Kavanagh, CNN

Boxer Orlando Cruz is one tough man.

He had 179 wins and just 10 losses as an amateur and boxed for Puerto Rico in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He went 17-0-1 in his first 18 professional fights, earning him the nickname El Fenomeno (The Phenom). He now boasts a pro record of 18-2-1, with 9 knockouts. He owns championship belts from the World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Association and is the fourth-ranked fighter in the WBO's featherweight (126-pound) class.

He has bulging biceps, a chiseled chest, a brilliant smile and a lot of mean-looking tattoos.

And last week he let the world know he's gay.

"It's 12 years I'm waiting (to approach) this subject," Cruz, 31, told CNN. "It's amazing, you know? I'm happy." FULL POST

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Filed under: How we live • Sexual orientation
October 8th, 2012
05:09 PM ET

César Chávez an inspiration to president's campaign slogan and movements

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

“¡Si se puede!”

Many people may not realize that the origin of “Yes We Can!” President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan, was a direct translation of rallying cries of the farm workers movement led by César E. Chávez, founder of the United Farm Workers, an organization devoted to defending the rights of farmhands and field workers across the country.

Opinion: Obama hits a foul by honoring Cesar Chavez

Chavez fought for fair wages, humane treatment and safer working conditions for California's farm workers through nonviolent marches, boycotts and fasts.

The UFW motto has been widely adopted by labor unions and civil rights movements, like the Service Employees International Union Justice For Janitors program, and immigration reform protests in 2006.

The slogan was coined during Chavez’s 24-day fast in 1972 for social justice in Phoenix, with the help of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of UFW.

In the 1972 film“¡Si se puede!", filmmakers Rick Tejada-Flores and Gayanne Fietinghoff document the fast that inspired the phrase. In May 1972, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that limited collective bargaining and outlawed boycotts and strikes at harvest time.

After Gov. Jack Williams signed the bill into law, Chavez began a fast. According to the film’s site, supporters discouraged the fast, arguing with him:“Cesar, no se puede, no se puede.” Chavez would reply. “Si, si se puede.” Yes, it can be done.


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Filed under: History • Latino in America • Politics • Who we are
Two school districts recognize LGBT Month
Gay pride is marked by parades, like this one in New York in June. LGBT month is meant to be more educational.
October 8th, 2012
03:52 PM ET

Two school districts recognize LGBT Month

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - American schools recognize African-American History Month and Women's History Month. This year, for the first time, two school districts are celebrating LGBT History Month, which started seven years ago and kicked off this year on October 1.

The Broward County school district in Florida signed a resolution in September in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Americans. Last week, the Los Angeles school district, the nation's second-largest, also signed on. The two districts have more than 1 million students.

"I want LGBT students to see their education as the diamond, their joy in their life rather than their trauma,” said Judy Chiasson, diversity coordinator for Los Angeles schools.

“Schools have an obligation to present the diversity of our communities," she said. "There are many different types of families; we want all of our families to be recognized in our schools.”

Last year, California passed the FAIR Education Act, which requires public schools to teach LGBT-inclusive history.

California law already required state public schools to teach about the contributions of Native Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Asian-Americans, among other groups.

Democratic Sen. Mark Leno, who sponsored the legislation, said at the time that research shows that students who learn about LGBT people are more likely to report that their schools are inclusive and fair.

Preventing bullying and suicides in schools

However, the bill drew ire from religious and conservative groups, like the lobby Traditional Values Coalition.

Equality Forum, which sponsors LGBT month, is featuring a LGBT icon every day in October. Among them are author Truman Capote, designer Jean-Paul Gaultier and CNN anchor Don Lemon.

Watch Lemon talk about his sexuality

The icons whom Equality Forum highlights with online educational resources and videos are, said Executive Director Malcolm Lazin, the Martin Luther King Jr.s of the LGBT world.

"The LGBT community is the only minority community that is not taught in schools," Lazin said. "So no wonder homophobia exists."

He called the recognition in the two school districts a "giant step in public school embracing LGBT inclusion and respect.” LGBT month will help children learn about the the role of gays and lesbians, he said, and help "break the cocoon of invisibility" for Americans who for many years have remained under the mainstream radar.

But 14,000 school districts have yet to adopt LGBT month, which this year kicked off with a road dedication ceremony honoring lesbian activist Barbara Gittings in her hometown of Philadelphia. A red sign heralding Barbara Gittings Way was placed under the name of Locust Street between 12th and 13th in the city's "Gayborhood."

Gittings edited the first lesbian publication in America. She persuaded the Library of Congress to include gay and lesbian books in the nation's card catalogs and libraries. And, with Frank Kameny, she successfully challenged the American Psychiatric Association to remove the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.

Gittings, said Lazin, was a woman who came out in public to fight for gay rights at a time when many gay Americans did not even dare to come out in private.

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Filed under: Education • History • Sexual orientation • Where we live
Obama to announce Cesar Chavez monument, send message to Latinos
Activist Cesar Chavez, right, shown at a 1977 rally in Guadalupe, California, will be honored Monday with a national monument.
October 8th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Obama to announce Cesar Chavez monument, send message to Latinos

By Josh Levs, CNN

(CNN) - President Obama will make modern history Monday when he announces the creation of a monument to honor Cesar Chavez, as he works to energize Latino voters less than a month before the presidential election.

The Cesar E. Chavez National Monument will become the 398th park in the National Park Service system, and the first since the 1700s to honor a Latino, the park service told CNN.

The president will speak at the event in Keene, California, on land known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, where Chavez lived and led the farm worker movement.

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Filed under: Latino in America • Politics • Who we are
Justices to re-examine use of race in college admissions
October 8th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Justices to re-examine use of race in college admissions

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

"Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free" - from the Bible (John 8:32), inscribed on the facade of the the University of Texas at Austin Main Building ..."Equal Justice Under Law" - inscription above the U.S. Supreme Court Building

(CNN) - Heman Marion Sweatt and Abigail Noel Fisher both wanted to attend the University of Texas at Austin.
Both claimed their race was a primary reason for their rejection. Both filed civil rights lawsuits, and the Supreme Court ultimately agreed to hear their separate appeals - filed more than half a century apart.

Their cases share much in common - vexing questions of competition, fairness, and demographics - and what role government should play when promoting political and social diversity.

But it is the key difference between these plaintiffs - separated by three generations and a troubled road to "equality" - that now confronts the nation's highest court: Sweatt was black, Fisher is white.

Sweatt's 1950 case produced a landmark court ruling that set the stage for the eventual end of racial segregation in public facilities.

Fisher's case will be heard by the justices Wednesday. The question here could come down to whether a majority on the bench believes affirmative action has run its course - no longer necessary in a country that has come far to confront its racially divisive past, a country that has a president who is African-American.

"There's a good chance that affirmative action, at least in the case of education, is on the chopping block," said Thomas Goldstein, a Washington appellate attorney and SCOTUSblog.com editor.

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Filed under: Education • History • Race • Where we live