Mr. Ray A. Gaño, program chairman and lifetime LULAC member perceived an event honoring Arizona pioneers in civic, business, education, government, and the media that had made contributions to the Mexican American and Hispanic community. Ray A. Gaño, chairman of The Millennium Tribute to Arizona's Pioneers committee, and Nicholas Rey De Herrera, president of LULAC Council 1083, promoted the project. The Millennium Tribute Committee, listed in the program, assisted with the work.

Honorees were persons who acted out their life talents in the latter part of the last century of the second millennium. The Millennium Tribute to Arizona's pioneers conceived a prophetic event in the sense of looking back historically to honor past accomplishments from which to project present and future contributions to the Hispanic community.

During the dance hall eras in Arizona many Hispanic communities had their own band or orchestra that played to dance aficionados. This practice continued in nightclubs and in a few dance halls. In Phoenix the Calderón and Riverside dance halls were remembered when young adults danced cumbias, rancheras, boleros, salsas, merengues, and cha-chas. The tunes of Pete Bugarin and Chapito Chaveria continued as remembered harmonic notes that preceded Linda Ronstadt, Freddy Fender, Gloria Estefan, Joan Báez, Vikki Carr, and Carlos Santana. Los Lobos fused Rock with Mexican music forms that popularized Spanish-language music in the society at-large. The Millennium event paid tribute to pioneers Pete Bugarin, Chano Acevedo, and Luis Estrada, who pioneered in music, dance bands, and song.

By the same token, as in music, there were doors opened in the media: newspapers, television, and radio broadcasting. There was a time the media ignored Hispanic interests and Hispanic performers. The Millennium Tribute event honored those Hispanics that pioneered media activities in these fields. Such individuals included: Mr. José (Tio José) Alvarado, radio broadcasting; Mr. Luis Estrada, music entertainment and radio broadcasting; Mr. Carlos Jurado, radio /television broadcasting; Mr. Humberto Ramon Preciado, radio/ television broadcasting; Steve and Julia Zozaya, radio broadcasting; Mr. Frank Camacho, news media; and Dr. Mary Jo Franco-French, M.D., El Sol newspaper. The doors in the media fields were opened for television, radio broadcasting, Spanish-language newspapers, and films: La Familia, A Walk in the Clouds, Stand and Deliver, The Milagro Beanfield War, and La Bamba.

For these developments in the music and media fields to have emerged, changes were required in the social and economic environments. Business entrepreneurs, civil rights activists, community organizers, candidates for political office, medical doctors, armed force servicemen and women, writers, and educators were called to action. History showed quite well the social changes that materialized when war veterans returned home and with other concerned citizens struggled for equality in the United States of America. The war on poverty, the economic opportunity development, the integration of schools, the civil rights, and the Chicano movement materialized into social changes exemplified by an improved pluralistic society, multi-cultural respect, diversity in employment, and participation in public institutions. Veterans, Civil rights activists, community organizers, educators, and public servants helped open doors into a present and future participation in the public institutions, corporations, public services, business concerns, and academic domains.

The Millennium Tribute to Pioneers event honors the following participants: Honorable Silvestre Herrera, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor; Rev. George B. Brooks, civil rights; Honorable Adam Diaz, Phoenix City Councilman; Honorable Lito Peña, Arizona State Legislature; Honorable Ed Pastor, United States Congressman; Mr. Ronnie Lopez, civil rights activist/CPLC; Gwendolyn Bedford, Ph.D., advocacy for the elderly; Mr. Junius Bowman, Human Resources/Phoenix Urban League; Mr. Frank Q. Carrillo, public service/LULAC; Robert D. Castillo, M.D., Psychiatry; Dr. Mary Jo Franco-French, M.D., Medicine; Mrs. Sue Gilbertson, children's advocacy/behavioral health; César Castro Marin, M.D., Clinica San Javier; Eugenio Marin, Ph.D., Education/activist/Arizona Coordinating Council for Political Education; Mrs. Olivia Garcia Moran, entrepreneur/Garcia's Restaurants; Anita Ramos de Schaff, linguist/ interpreter; José de Jesús Vega, Ph.D., Education/Historian; Santos C. Vega, Ph.D., Education/community based organizations/ applied research; and Steve and Julia Zozaya, LULAC, SER and community service. All these honorees of the Millennium Tribute to Arizona's pioneers experienced the changes as they occurred; changes they helped make.

Changes had indeed occurred from the Phoenix Ray Gaño remembered and compared to Phoenix, today. Ray remembered the past and reflected how the years went by as he watched Phoenix grow and flourish into one of the most beautiful cities in America.

Ray coordinated the Tribute event with Mr. Nicholas Rey De Herrera, president of LULAC Council 1083. Both Nicholas (Nick) and Ray believed that the pioneers honored in the Millennium Tribute, as the end of the century approached, had made significant contributions for the improvement of our society. Recently, Ray articulated his heartfelt sentiments: "Their unselfish commitment and support have enriched our culture and heritage. These Pioneers of diverse backgrounds have left an engraved impression on the hearts and minds of many, for generations to come."

Mr. Ray A. Gaño, Program Chairman and lifetime member of the Arizona LULAC, and Mr. Nicholas De Herrera, President of LULAC Council 1083, with the help of many persons, committee members, and honorees worked hard and contributed successfully to make The Millennium Tribute an unforgettable experience.

Santos C. Vega






The Millennium Tribute to Arizona's pioneers was indeed a millennium in its making. History, culture, heritage of the Hispanic people had roots that reached back thousands of years. Hispanic roots reached back to Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East, and the Mediterranean Sea. Hispanic Culture, intermixed with Native American cultures, flowered throughout South America, Central America, and North America.

From the above mentioned continents emerged the Hispanic ancestry in a genetic way, in numerous racial types, in ethnic groups, and in national identities that formed the Hispanic people. The Iberians lived in the Hispanic peninsula three thousand years ago. The Celts and the Visigoths immigrated into Iberia. The Latin Romans, Greek settlers, Phoenicians and other Mediterranean peoples also populated the Iberian Peninsula. Then later the African Moors settled southern Spain and brought Arabic culture into the mix of European, Roman, and Mediterranean cultures. In time the Iberian Peninsula became Hispania under Roman rule. Hispania was further unified under the Germanic Visigoths and Celtic peoples. Hispania continued being governed in the South by Arabic speaking rulers. Hispania became integrated by a mosaic of languages, cultures, and heritages. These pluralistic types of Spaniards crossed the Atlantic to an encounter with another world peopled by numerous varied types of inhabitants characterized by different languages, cultures, and heritages. The Olmec people had inhabited Mexico three thousand years ago. Numerous Native American peoples, including the Aztec, Toltec, and Mayas inhabited Mexico. The mixture of all these ancient different types of peoples, with a variety of cultures and languages, after 1492 AD and with the pluralistic culture and people from Spain created the new American people, the mestizo. From this Mexican fountain evolved the Mexican American, the Chicano, the Hispanic, La Raza. This Latino people and culture continued to evolve intermixed with English speaking and other European peoples and cultures into a Latino American people and culture.

Integral with the genes of the new Latino American people, los Americanos, (the term Americano had its origins in Argentina in 1526) were the languages and cultures that evolved from Spanish-speaking and English speaking worlds. The cultural and linguistic threads, colorful and sturdy, stitched the fabrics of the new American cultures and languages.Latin, Arabic, Visigoth, Celtic, Greek, Nahuatle, Toltec, Maya, and many other Native American first nations and cultures effected the basic foundations of American Hispanic cultures and languages.

Cultural and heritage threads stretched back to the name Tarshish as Spain was called at the time of Psalm 48: "By the east wind thou didst shatter the ships of Tarshish (Ps.48, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977). That battle was lost, but later the ships of Spain stopped the advance of Turkish Islamic naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea battle of Lepanto and saved western civilization for Christianity. In time the Spanish ships sailed around the world in 1522. The Spanish armed forces assisted the United States of America in its efforts for independence from England.

Hispanic culture formed its foundations during the second millennium of 1,000 years that led up to our last century, the1900s, here in Phoenix. From the anonymously written epic poem "Mio Cid" (1140-1157) at the beginning of the second millennium through the one thousand years to 1999 the Hispanic literature, dance, music, song, and social culture developed. The "Mio Cid" narrated Don Rodrigo Diaz Vivar's exploits. Miguel de Cervantes's novel Don Quijote de la Mancha, and the works of Spanish poet and playwright Felix Lope de Vega y Carpio were followed by countless other writers and thinkers up to our more recent times. New world writers Juan Ruiz Alarcon, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, and many others up to modern times, and including Carlos Fuentes (1928) and Nobel literary acclaimed authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928) and Octavio Paz set the foundation for many modern writers. Our Native American literary heritage from the Aztec codices, the Mayan Books of Chilam Balam and the sacred book Popol Vuh served to inspire scholarship. The more mundane romanza, the pulsating stories sung in corridos, and the dramas acted out in Autos de Fe and early century carpa plays influenced recent literary and dramatic expression. Literary works, dramatic events, and ballads fulfilled traditions evolved in time and space. These traditions impacted modern day Mexican American/Chicano novels and poetry. From among many literary works in the latter part of the 1900s, a few included: Corky Gonzales's poem I Am Joaquin (1967); Pocho (1959), a novel by Jose Antonio Villarreal; Bless Me Ultima a novel by Rudolfo Anaya; Barrio Boy (1971) by Ernesto Galarza; Rain of Gold (1990) by Victor Villasenor. Among many women literary writers were: Cordelia Chávez Candelaria, Lorna Dee Cervantes, and Bernice Zamora. Included in the literary offerings was Sandra Cisneros's Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (1991).

Customs and traditions that recaptured the past second millenium continued to fashion an understandable present that bears with it the promise for the new third millenium. The Millennium Tribute to Arizona's Pioneers captured the past, present, and future expressions of Latino culture into one cultural event celebrated with mutual accord with one another and bonded with music and visual art.

The celebration of our Hispanic culture brought to mind numerous events and people: For example, the Virgen De Guadalupe who created unity in the Americas; Vaqueros that worked our cattle industry; and miners that labored in our state's copper mines. Few of the notable leaders among many were: Estevan Ochoa, who as a state legislator, introduced education legislation that established public education in Arizona; Raul Castro, our first Hispanic Governor; César E. Chávez, born in Yuma, led the farm workers toward labor union recognition. We honored those who gained Hispanic universal acclaim as Pablo Casals in music and Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera in visual art. We honored the events Hispanics celebrate: The Sixteenth of September, Fourth of July, Cinco De Mayo, religious events, family celebrations, and sports events.

Much was left out; enough was included to give an idea of the Hispanic heritage and culture. It is within human heritage and culture that each of our honorees crafted their individual life enterprise. Each life endeavor was derived from the larger group, historical, and cultural contexts. Yet, each unique life glowed like a star in our Arizona human firmament created by God.


Santos C. Vega