Monday, December 5, 2011


"A People's Guide to Maricopa County" is a collaborative class project undertaken by Arizona State University students in Professor Wendy Cheng's course, "Race, Space, and the Production of Inequality" (Fall 2010, Spring 2011, and Fall 2011). Taking inspiration from the book project A People's Guide to Los Angeles (Pulido, Barraclough, and Cheng; forthcoming from UC Press in April 2012) students researched, visited, and photographed sites in Maricopa County, Arizona that illustrate the workings of racism, power, and inequality in the landscape.

We hope you enjoy browsing our "alternative guide" to Maricopa County and welcome your comments!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gila River Reservation

Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino on the Gila River Reservation, 2010 (Photo By: Trainor Glass Company) 
Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino on the Gila River Reservation, November 2011 (Photo By: Hannah Al-Ghareeb)
The Gila River Reservation is an American Indian Reservation, south of phoenix, located by the Gila River. The population consists of the Akimel O’odham(Pima) and the Pee Posh (Maricopa) tribes. The Maricopa and Pima originally joined together and became allies with the common goal to obtain freedom. Both cultures had their own ethnic identity but agreed to have one single council that would work for them, which led to today’s reservation made up of Maricopa and Pima living together. Natives have endured trials and tribulations throughout history, especially after World War II that changed American Society and affected the lives of Native Americans.

In 1952 the government created the Indian Relocation Program, designed to encourage the Indians to leave the reservation, divide them and have control over their land. Over 750,000 natives were separated throughout the cities of Chicago, Denver, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dallas. They were promised with special incentives, such as temporary housing, guidance and counseling to finding new jobs but those promises were not kept. Jobs were paying extremely low, for example an average family was making 80 dollars a month, Many of them were away from their families, which resorted some to drink alcohol and getting in trouble with the law. They were manipulated by the government just for the purpose of controlling more land. Similar to the Japanese Internment Camps, when more than 13,000 Japanese were forced to leave their home after the attack on Pearl Harbor and sent to Gila River and lived in small camps with horrible living conditions. The government inability to distinguish which Japanese were loyal to Japan and which were possible threats led to this corruption. I feel the Government manipulated both Japanese and Indians for their own personal gain and because they’re not “true Americans" but minorities.

The history of the Community has always been about farming. Going far back as of 300 BC, the ancestors (Hohokam) of the Pima tribe changed a dirty desert environment into fertile land. The Hohokam created a system of Canals that were used to transform the desert into a farmland which provided food for all the people. This knowledge was passed from generation to generation and helped formed the Landscape of Arizona. City of Phoenix became relied on Pima and Maricopa crops, such as wheat, grain and corn that allowed incoming settlers to survive. In the late 1800’s farming was in jeopardy by a system of dams that led the Pima and Maricopa to rely on federal assistance to survive. The federal Assistance helped paved the way to greater economic development within the community, which led to increased agricultural, industrial and recreational activities. The increasing agricultural activity led to more cotton, grains and citrus being distributed. The economic development, led to the evolution of the Gila River gaming enterprises. The gaming enterprises include the Wild Horse Pass Casino and Vee Quiva Casino. These casinos had opened in 2009 and have placed the Gila River Gaming Enterprises at number one in Arizona and continue today. The Casinos include over 1000 slot machines, 75 table games, a big showroom that play host to entertainers and a high energy nightclub. Gila River Gaming Enterprises mission is to generate income for the community, provide employment opportunities for the community and help contribute in the economic growth of the community.

- Hannah Al-Ghareeb and Ben Tsegai


➢ Continuing Maricopa Identities: Gila River Reservation, ArizonaMarsha S. Kelly, Journal of Southwest Vol. 47, No. 1, Oral History Remembered: Native Americans, Doris Duke, and the Young Anthropologists (Spring, 2005), pp. 47-56



Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCP)

Old Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCP), November 2011 (Photo by: Ben Tsegai)
New ICCP building, November 2011 (Photo by Hannah Al-Ghareeb)  
This location occupied by the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCP), was once a Baptist church and is now an Islamic mosque and community center. This institution provides a safe space for religious worship, social support, guidance, and communal unity for Muslims of many nations. The original center has been in use since 1984, however moved to the present address in 1997. However the process to create a new upgraded center beside the current one started in 2004, and is currently awaiting donations to complete phase two of its final construction. The current location has about 400 loyal worshippers, which of whom have donated their own funds to assist in the new center’s 1.5-2 million dollar estimated cost. It has been known to provide services to new Bosnian immigrants, as well as people from Afghanistan, Sudan, and Somalia recalled Usama Shami, the community board chairman.

The new center will be a gated property of 16,000 square feet designed with a main dome about 42 feet, smaller domes around it, a library, shop, office for the religious scholars, a kitchen in the basement for catering events like weddings, a covered courtyard, as well as security cameras to prevent hate crimes and/or vandalism.

There is no illusion that hides the increased discrimination, prosecution, and fear that has surrounded Muslims, American-Muslims, Arabs, and immigration of Muslims into the U.S., in the post 9/11 era. Both immediately as well as years after have been followed by discrimination of all types on all levels with much persistence through misconceptions about the Muslim religion. Whether it is unequal opportunity at jobs, suspicious accusing attitudes and taunts within neighborhoods and schools, or simply the unfair treatment of Muslims by the U.S. law enforcement and government, discrimination against Muslims in the post 9/11 era has become the new institutionalized racism.

The government and media are involved in a dual partnership in creating and utilizing these strong misconceptions. Since September 11th, there have been a series of Acts implemented for the safety of the American people. These new laws are used to closely monitor the activity of Muslims at mosques, Islamic centers, airports, immigration offices, and institutions involving money; especially charities.

Some of the programs and acts passed that limited the freedom of mobility, prosperity, and rights as primary or even secondary citizens, were Early Detention, Material Witness Statue, Mass Interviews, National Security Entry-Exit Registration Systems (NSEERS)Program, Material Support Prosecutions , and the Invisible Investigative Steps. These will briefly be defined. Early detention occurred after the trade center attacks and was spurred by the investigation PENTTBOMB that sought to identify those involved in the attack. 1,200 individuals across the U.S. were detained only one of which was not Muslim, and 40% were not given Notice to Appear (NTA), that officially explained the reason for detention. The Material Witness Statues was used for many years although nowhere near the extent with Muslims, allows the government to arrest and detain people that may give a testimony. The witnesses must be able to give information to a criminal case and/or have a reason to not require a subpoena; coincidently this case mostly has to do with foreign nationals. There also happens to have no time limit for detention in this case, as with many, so the vagueness of the law may be bent and abused to convenience. The Mass Interviews occurred two months after the attacks, and rounded up 3,216 people of Arab or Muslim decent, from countries “which intelligence indicates al Qaeda terrorist presence or activity”. This included people who had come into the U.S. after 2000, or who were using student visas to go to school. None of which were found to have any terrorist affiliation. The National Security Entry-Exit Registration Systems (NSEERS) program required the photographing and digital fingerprinting of aliens going into the U.S., annual registration if residing longer than a month, and exit registration. All of the 25 high security countries other than North Korea were primarily Muslim/Arab countries. Now, the Material Support Prosecutions put great suspicion on funds raised or contributed “never intended to further terrorism could subject someone to terrorism support charges”. For ‘material support’ is broad and may include “any physical asset (e.g. a book), training, [or] expert advice”. This explains why charities are being more and more investigated. Finally, the Invisible Investigative Steps include acts such as the Patriot Act.

The discriminatory oppression of Muslims can be related to the U.S. government’s history of controlling the prosperity and vulnerability of other racial groups that they decide “unfit” to be ideal citizens or simply groups which need to be controlled. The government and media use isolated events and misconceptions to generalize racial groups, thus criminalizing the people that have something in common with the actual criminals. There seems to be a pattern here. Whenever criminality is associated with a group, there is a decrease in compassion, concern for humane treatment, and allows for the rationalization of the “spaces of exception”. This occurred with the Japanese internment camps after Pearl Harbor, by using the same ideology of “some of them may be dangerous, so they all are a threat”. It is seen with associating the Mexican illegals crossing the border with the drug cartel movements. This criminalization rationalization is even seen within the camps of our time, such as Guantanamo Bay, the holding and interrogation camps overseas, which are excluded from the Geneva Convention because they are or may be affiliated with the war on terror.

The state plays the largest role in institutionalizing this discrimination with the subjection of Muslims and America. The loose labeling done by the government and media determines the power and rights of Muslims in America, and thus determines their vulnerability and relationships with the state.

Although the discrimination persists, there has been an increase in Muslim migration to the U.S, as well as positive turnovers. People from Islamic Community Center of Phoenix have said that although they were negative, the attacks "also made people more interested in learning about the faith, [Usama] Shami [board chairman of the ICCP] said. And, at the same time, it made Muslims aware of the need to build bridges (to non-Muslims)."

This is the very reason for activism, so that people oppressed by the government can share experiences, and make strides toward change. Places like the ICCP provide this freedom and innovation needed for positive change. All in all, the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix is a space of significance. For space and land represent power and freedom to choose and practice religion even if its origins may be from a “foreign” country, of whom its citizens may be “forever foreign”.

- Ben Tsegai and Hannah Al-Ghareeb



➢ ISLAMIC FAITHFUL AWAIT NEW MOSQUE BUILDING WILL RISE AT I-17, ORANGEWOODAnchors, Sarah. Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Ariz] 04 June 2004

Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Ariz] 12 Sep 2001: EX.17.

➢ Muslims in America after 9/11: The Legal Situation
Philip Heymann*

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church

Original Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (Old Adobe Mission), 2009. (Photo by:

New Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church,  November 2011. (Photo by: Ben Tsegai)
Prior to the building of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (OLPH), was the initial Old Adobe Mission that was built by Mexican immigrants in 1933. “[The] site was selected in Scottsdale’s original town near the barrio where the first Hispanics settled as they migrated to the valley to work in the cotton industry”. It was started by a few men with 50 pound adobe bricks, and was later founded that year by around twenty families that made the pews used for kneeling themselves. Many decedents of these families were present at the celebration mass and reception on Oct 14the for the 75th anniversary. Maggie Fabian Castillo recalled, “I was a little girl when my father was building this church”. The first Catholic Church in Scottsdale was completed with 4,000 adobe bricks and 15 stained glass pieces were made by Bernabe Herrera; the tinsmith for Scottsdale. Which have since been restored to its original setting. The old mission was designed similar to the San Xavier del Bac by Tucson. Fr. Hever made efforts to restore the mission in 2000, for it was not as busy starting 1956. This is when the Catholic population shifted and started attending the new Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church that was not even a mile down the road. By 2005, the first four phases for restoring the Old Adobe Mission began. It has since become a monument. In 1977 it even started to be rented out by the Scottsdale Symphony Orchestra.

The new church, had been led for forty years by Monsignor Eugene Maguire, who was a priest originally ordained in Ireland. As the number of followers increased, the pastor opted for a larger space to build a new church. Next door where the pastor was living was a family that owned 20 acres of land for their dairy and poultry ranch. The son, Paul Messinger wrote an article about his former neighbor Maguire after he had passed recently in 2006. Paul’s father and colleague, Charlie Ronan worked at law offices. Paul’s father suggested that he offer the priest their southern 10 acres. Ronan spoke with Maguire and Bishop Daniel Gercke about it and the purchase was made. At the time Miller road where the church is located, was dirt. Families such as the Zimmermans, Schraders, and others were still raising crops and cattle. Presently, Old Town Scottsdale surrounds it. Since, Paul Messinger and his wife purchased three acres from his family and built their first mortuary there. Today they have their own mortuary company called Messinger Mortuaries.

Our Lady of Perpetual Church today serves many community services. It has a catholic school connected to it, facilitated with a Boys and Girls club, volunteer opportunities, regular mass, Sunday ordinations, as well as many outreach programs.

One interesting way the church reaches out is with a particular case of Kate Fogler, who attended the church regularly. She had volunteered for almost three summers at the “Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (Our Little Brothers and Sisters) orphanage in Miacatlan, Mexico”. She had heard about this orphanage through OLPH, and described building relationships and giving the children attention that they couldn’t receive in an orphanage of 500. At one point she was inspired to do more, and started working as a nanny to be able to afford sponsoring a child for $30 a month. It is impressive how the church tries to connect back with Mexico, perhaps because of its heritage with the Mexican people. The original inspiration of the Old Adobe Mission was built by the Mexicans, and there has long been a strong Spanish influence in the area, let alone Arizona.

The original OLPH church has been officially listed as a monument. It is important, for its uses, design, and perseverance, “provides tangible evidence of the local Hispanic families contribution and role in the evolution of Scottsdale”. It has been described as humble and modest, while proudly representing “a high degree of integrity with many intact features that represent the distinctive characteristics of the local interpretation of Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture”.

It is ironic that monumental pieces as the OLPH church, that resonate powerful Hispanic culture coinciding and inspiring the settlement of a permanent town of Scottsdale, can be forgotten when it comes to the topic of immigration restriction. It seems that there is significant quantity and quality of Hispanic, specifically Mexican history and culture.

Yet, SB 1070 is being pressured on the citizens of Arizona. As if the influx of Mexican migrants just started to sporadically pour in, not only uncontrollably, but as a possible threat? It is ironic, that citizens of Arizona fear for their jobs, their culture being “taken over”, and all of their rightful opportunities as citizens being stolen by the Mexican people. They fear the fears of the media. Conveniently this group of people is termed “illegal alien”. Why not refugees? Many citizens of Arizona now look at Mexican illegals and instead of seeing people destroyed by a neglectful government looking for a better life; as other countries have done so thus creating refugees throughout history, they see criminals that are predominantly concerned with drug cartels and the murdering of ranchers. It seems throughout history, manifest destiny has long been the quiet motivation of American Imperialism, and remnants of that ideology still remain within institutionalized power. It is powerfully spread by the overwhelming media. This then creates ethnocentric lawmakers and citizens, thus allowing the Mexican contribution to the culture and history of Arizona, to be more easily forgotten.

- Hannah Al-Ghareeb and Ben Tsegai


U.S. Census Data


➢ Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church Website

➢ Historic Significance and Integrity Assessment Report for Listing Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Church on the Scottsdale Historic Register Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Church

Messinger, Paul

➢ Impact athletes
Bordow, Scott. Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Ariz] 19 Aug 2011: C.8.

➢ Catholic Sun
Scottsdale mission marks 75 years of history.By Ambria Hamme

Sky Harbor Airport


Sky Harbor Airport, November 2011. Photos by Tierra Ellis.

3400 East Sky Harbor Boulevard Phoenix, AZ 85034

Growing up in Phoenix I was always intrigued by the airport that seemed to sit right in the middle of my city. It seemed to be a city of its own with its complex highways and growing infrastructure. The planes flying overhead became so regular that as time passed I barely noticed them anymore. They were just a part of my life. I’ve heard stories about the airport, but I’ve never done any research on my own.

Sky Harbor Airport is a major influence in the development of Phoenix, Arizona. Sky Harbor has served as a catalyst of growth for the city, and as the city grows the airport grows. After the expansion of Sky Harbor, the poor Mexican community; the Golden Gate Barrio, was to first to be affected by it (Dimas, 93). South East Phoenix was the location of the Golden Gate Barrio, which in 1930s was a flourishing Latino community that was occupied by small shops and adobe buildings (Dimas, 172). The significance that this prospering community has with the airport is its force from the federal government to relocate in order for Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to expand and economically grow (Dimas, 95).

The location of Sky Harbor airport is another problem that is posed. South Phoenix is where majority of minorities live in Arizona and also where the Sky Harbor’s flight pattern is located. Environmental racism is an issue that these minorities are risked to deal with because of the airport’s location. Redlining in past decades is the root reason to why African Americans and Latinos are heavily populated in South Phoenix. Majority white neighborhoods would not allow Sky Harbor airport to be built close to them out of fear of the air pollution as well as sound pollution. They were able to do this because they were able to gather the funds to protest having Sky Harbor airport built near their neighborhood, whereas people in minority neighborhoods did not have access to these same resources (Bolin, 2).

Sky Harbor came from humble beginnings as a one-runway airport developed in the 1928 by Scenic Airways as a privately owned operation. Sky Harbor was dedicated in 1929 before a crowd of 8000 people. At the time Sky Harbor was on the outskirts of the city and was nicknamed “The Farm.” Scenic Airway’s ownership of Sky Harbor was short due to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and they were forced to abandon the airport. The airport spent a short time under the ownership of ACME Investment Corporation before being bought by The City of Phoenix in 1935 for $100,000. The city had a dedication of its own for Sky Harbor in 1935 and from there the airport began to rise to worldwide prominence.

The end of the 1930’s was modernizing Sky Harbor. Phoenix was investing heavily into the airport with technology, and it was paying off. The addition of a $40,000 two way radio system made the airport attractive to many major area carriers of the time including Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA). TWA began mail and passenger service between San Francisco and Phoenix. By 1940 a host of other cities and airports were added to Sky Harbor’s logistical network (“Phoenix sky harbor,” 2011).

The 1940’s were also wartime for the United States, and Sky Harbor was made headquarters by the US Army. The Army would use Sky Harbor as a place to refuel planes during World War II (“Phoenix sky harbor,” 2011). Sky Harbor was becoming increasingly busy as it ushered in the modern age of flight.

By 1948, Sky Harbor Airport was named the busiest airport in the United States by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. Sky Harbor was growing with the city, and the city was growing with Sky Harbor. By 1949 The Arizona National guard leased space for 99 years at the airport. By the 1950’s four main airlines were offering flights in and out of the newly completed Terminal 1 that cost about $800,000 to complete. Terminal 2 was completed in 1962 and cost about 2.7 million dollars to complete. By this time the airport had added international to its name, and was one of the busiest airports in the world. Terminal 3 was completed in 1976 and cost almost 50 million dollars to complete, and Terminal 4 opened in 1990 and cost a “staggering” 248 million dollars to complete (“Phoenix sky harbor,” 2011). It was safe to say the Phoenix realized the importance of this airports growth to the growth of the surrounding city. The once one-runway airport now was bigger than a small city sitting on roughly 3000 acres.

The airport handles around 45 million passengers yearly, which average out to about 108,000 passengers a day. Statistically it is the 18th busiest airport in the world. There are over 30,000 parking spaces allocated to the airport to serve its passengers and employee needs.

Significantly, Sky Harbor is a catalyst to the economic prosperity of its surrounding community. The City of Phoenix has grown around Sky Harbor, and it seems to sit right in the middle of the city, and can be accessed from almost every major highway. The airport is essentially the well-being of Phoenix’s Tourism Industry which plays heavily on Phoenix’s 300 plus days of sunshine a year (“Phoenix sky harbor,” 2011). From golf courses to shopping centers to zoos Phoenix has something to offer anyone looking to visit and its residents. Phoenix is an escape for the snowbirds that chose to abandon their winter climates for the seemingly more favorable low 70 average during Phoenix’s “winter.” Sky Harbor International Airport is a catalyst to Phoenix, Arizona and helped the city rise to prominence.

- Tierra Ellis

Works Cited

Jones, Pamela. "1935 and The Farm -- Sky Harbor's Early Years and Memories." N.p., 08 30 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2011.

“USA Airports - North America Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) History, Facts and Overview (Phoenix, Arizona - AZ, USA).” N.p., 11 27 2011. Web. 29 Nov 2011. .

Phoenix Airport (PHX) Information: Airport in Phoenix Area, AZ, USA. Web. 11 29
Nov. 2011. .

Dimas, Pete R. Progress and A Mexican American Community’s Struggle for Existence. New York: Peter Lang, 1999. Print.

Bolin, Bob. "The Geography of Despair: Environmental Racism." Research in Human Ecology 12.2 (2005): 156-68. Print.

Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church


Tanner Chapel AME Church, November 2011. Photos by Tierra Ellis.

20 South Eighth Street Phoenix, AZ 85034

Tanner Chapel is the oldest African American Church in Phoenix, AZ (Galloway). An assembly of slaves founded Tanner Chapel African American Methodist Episcopal Church in 1787 in Philadelphia. Its first name was the Free African Society. At this time Richard Allen of the St. George Methodist Episcopal Church escorted out slaves and free persons in Philadelphia in resistance of segregation. In 1816 the name changed again to the Methodist Episcopal Church from the Free African Society. The major points the church became known for were freedom fighting, self-help, and mutual aid.
Charles Ward, Sister Ward, N.D. Valentine, and Reverend H. Valentine, all proposed for the establishment of the Christian mission fostering “family life”, established Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Phoenix in 1886. According to Courthouse records, an African Methodist Episcopal Mission is what the property was owned by in 1886 (Galloway). Second Street and East Jefferson Street was the location of the first property and also where another section of the property was added in 1899, which also led to the new name of Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It was named after Bishop Benjamin T. Tanner. Bishop Tanner was the 19th century Bishop. By permission of an Admiral Dahlgren, he was also the individual who organized the first freedmen school geared towards the United States navy yard (McMickle). Tanner was born in 1835 and died in 1923. The Women’s Missionary Society was named after Bishop Tanner’s wife, Sarah Tanner.

The original location on second street and Jefferson is now occupied by the U.S Airways Center. However, there is no connection to the U.S Airways Center and Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church is now located on eighth street and Jefferson. The old property was sold several years after the property was purchased. The Bishop was Reverend A.H Hamilton at the time of the rebuilding of the new church. Reverend Hamilton is known as the inspiration for the rebuilding of the new church that was completed in 1929. Today, Reverend Dr. Benjamin N. Thomas Sr. leads Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Tanner Chapel is a staple in the Phoenix, Arizona and African Methodist Episcopal Church communities. The African Methodist Episcopal Church Denomination was born out of segregation and is free to all people to attend. Tanner is the oldest black congregation in Phoenix, Arizona with records dating back to 1886. Tanner Chapel’s present structure was built in 1929, and is currently under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Dr. Benjamin N. Thomas Sr.

Today Tanner continues to serve as a cultural beacon in the Phoenix, Arizona Community. Many of Phoenix’s most powerful African American figures attend Tanner Chapel. The church is often the centerpiece of most black communities and Tanner Chapel is no exception. Tanner Chapel is located Downtown Phoenix near the Southside where most of Phoenix’s Black residents reside. It is a short commute for many of its patrons. Tanner is located in the shadows of Chase Field which towers across the street. This serves as a testament that Tanner has stood the test of time in a city that continues to grow around it.

- Tierra Ellis

Works Cited

Tanner chapel African Methodist Episcopal church history. (2009, October 19). Retrieved from

Kwan, Samantha. "Navigating Public Spaces: Gender, Race, and Body Privilege in Everyday Life." Feminist Formations. 22.2 (2010): vii-xi. Print. .

McMickle, Marvin. "Benjamin T. Tanner, 19th Century A.M.E Bishop." African American Registry: A non-profit education organization. Judson Press, 2002. Web. 28 Nov 2011.

Galloway, Floyd. "Tanner Chapel Receives Historic Designation." Arizona Informant [Phoenix] 22 Dec 2010, n. page. Web. 28 Nov. 2011.

Santa Rita Hall



Clockwise from top left: altar outside Santa Rita Hall; entrance; door entering the hall; gates. November 2011. Photos by Stefany Sheridan

South 12th Street, Phoenix AZ

Santa Rita Hall was the location of a highly regarded activist event during the 1970’s, the Fast of Love by Cesar Chavez. Cesar Chavez, was a historical and important leader for labor workers in Arizona and the United States, founded the United Farm Workers of America. The UFWA organizes agricultural workers, many of whom are Mexican Americans. Cesar was a native to Arizona, and after a decade after founding the UFWA his native state pushed House Bill 2134, which denied farm workers the right to boycott and strike during harvest seasons. After asking to meet with Republican Governor Jack Williams to help them and appeal to veto the bill, the Governor denied the meeting and immediately signed the bill on the spot. The governor remarked, “as far as I’m concerned, those people don’t exist (Whiting, 2003).”

After the bill was signed, Cesar returned to Arizona and began a 24-day water-only fast in Phoenix, at Santa Rita Hall, which is pictured above. He chose Santa Rita Hall, because it was the site for his “Fast of Love.” Around the area of Santa Rita Hall, many Mexican immigrants located here because of the labor work that has historically happened in the area. The hall is located on South 12th Street, in Phoenix. While located here, the fast immediately took a bad toll on his body, and Cesar was bedridden within a few days. He was visited by a group of Latino and political workers, advocating for what Cesar was doing for the labor workers (Whiting, 2003).

Cesar chanted “Si, si se puede!” (Yes, yes it can be done) while he was getting weaker and weaker from the fast. He spent most of the fast in the tiny room known as Santa Rita Hall that was barely big enough for a single bed, small table and chairs. Outside the room, thousands of people, including the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, US Senator George McGovern, and Joseph P Kennedy the third, attended masses (Whiting, 2003).

The fast ended on June 4th, 1972 when Cesar was too weak to even speak. Passages were read for his followers and advocates for labor working laws. Still to this day the bill is still in the works, but Cesar’s famous words have been an inspiration to people all over the world. Even President Obama used “Yes we can!” during his 2008 presidential campaign, along with many other Latino labor workers (Whiting, 2003).

The site of Santa Rita Hall connects well with our course material because of the obvious connections with the history of a largely influential Mexican civil rights leader, Cesar Chavez. Juan Alvarez, 58, of Phoenix was quoted saying, “In the 60s, Cesar is my hero. Today, he is my icon.” Still to this day Cesar is seen as a very influential individual towards the rights of labor workers, especially those descending from Mexico. Many Mexican American activists’ are pushing for March 31st as a state holiday, due to the fact that it was Cesar Chavez’s birthday and the influence he made on the Mexican workers here in the United States.

- Reggie Halstrom and Stefany Sheridan


“Chavez Embraces Unity” Whiting, Brent AZ Republic, 22 Mar 2003