Can you do the Chicano Clap? No? Well, StoryCorps knows a few folks out West you can give a call…
KJZZ on-air personality Marcos Najera shared the StoryCorps experience with his parents, Ascencion “Sonny” Najera and Yolanda Najera, and his godmother, Rosie López. Earlier that day, Yolanda and Rosie marched with other locals in Phoenix, Arizona’s Stop the Hate March. Led by the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), one of this peaceful demonstration’s goals was to raise public awareness of the need for immigrants’ rights and equal opportunities.
The morning’s activities sparked the Najera’s afternoon conversation, bringing about memories of similar demonstrations in the 1960s and 1970s when Sonny, Rosie, and Yolanda, all long-time friends, attended Arizona State University. This was during the early days of Chicanos por La Causa, an equal rights advocacy organization that Sonny initiated and helped name. Looking back on his years of activism, Sonny says, “We live in a world of many races. So, we have to be ready to help everybody. That, to me, is my goal.”
These veteran crusaders also remembered the emergence of Chicano as a term of political and national identity and shared stories of their parents’ opposition to (and eventual embracement of) the movement in a talk that showed the value of inter-generational communication and storytelling. “My mother became involved because of us,” Rosie remembers. “She just began to accept it.” Soon after, Rosie’s mother could be seen marching side-by-side with her daughter, proudly clapping and calling herself Chicana.
“To hear you guys talk about that is what is starting to make me want to reclaim the term Chicano for myself and for my own generation,” Marcos told his family. “It’s that spirit.” And that spirit-that activist’s passion and enthusiasm-is sure to live on in Phoenix for years to come.