Legislature Celebrates Cinco De Mayo Week

May 07, 2012

Celebrations included a Cinco de Mayo Week Floor Resolution and the Presentation of the Latino Spirit Awards

SACRAMENTO – The California State Legislature joined the Latino Legislative Caucus today in commemorating Cinco de Mayo Week by presenting the Latino Spirit Awards and passing the Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 146 (ACR 146) introduced by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara, (D-Bell Gardens). The measure proclaims May 1-7, 2012 as Cinco de Mayo Week and urges Californians to join in celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

The measure memorializes Cinco de Mayo as a significant date in the history of California and Mexico in recognition of the courage of the Mexican people, who defeated a better trained and better equipped army at the "Batalla de Puebla" and honors the efforts of the Latinos of California who fought, died and lived to protect the freedom of the United States.

The Legislature also recognized and honored distinguished Latinos for their contributions and dedication to their field with the 11th Annual Latino Spirit Awards. The Latino Spirit Award was created by California's Latino Legislative Caucus to recognize Latinos who through their accomplishments exhibit the values, culture and traditions of California's Latino Community. The honorees were presented the awards on the Chambers of the California State Assembly.

"It is important to celebrate the accomplishments of leaders in all aspects of society. Every one of the recipients this year exemplifies the virtues of perseverance, tenacity and hard work which merit the accolades. We recognize these accomplishments because they inspire the recipients to continue to strive for excellence and give us all the opportunity to aspire for more in our own fields," said Assembly Member Ricardo, Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

This year's honorees include:

THE CEJA FAMILY - Achievement in Entrepreneurship
The Ceja family has farmed in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys for 45 years, and their 113 producing acres of land yield balanced and beautiful grapes consistently. Their mission is to produce world-renowned wines that reflect their vineyard sites, their farming practices, and their gentle approach to winemaking. Ceja wines have received numerous awards and extensive media coverage, and are offered at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the U.S.

BRIGADIER GENERAL SYLVIA CROCKETT - Achievement in Military Service
Brigadier General Sylvia R. Crockett is the first Latina General in the California National Guard. General Crockett initially joined the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Federal Air Field, and in 1984 joined the California Army National Guard and entered the California Military Academy. She was the first woman to command the 223rd Infantry Regiment (Combat Arms), and the first woman to be appointed as the Joint Force Headquarters, J3, Director of Plans and Operations, and subsequently the Chief of Staff of the California Military Department. She currently serves as the Assistant Division Commander (Support), 40th Infantry Division and the full-time Director of Strategic Communications for the California Military Department.

SUZANNA GUZMÁN - Achievement in Fine Arts & Musical Theatre
Suzanna Guzmán is an internationally renowned mezzo-soprano, one of the original Associate Artists of L.A. Opera and current host of the weekly KCET arts showcase "Open Call." She has appeared as a principal soloist with symphonies and opera houses around the world including the Metropolitan Opera and the Washington National Opera. She is best known for her portrayal of the title role in Bizet's Carmen, and she continues to perform her one-woman show, "Don't be Afraid: It's Just Opera," created in 1985 to introduce inner-city students to the world of opera. Suzanna has received various awards and is active in the arts education community serving as Director of Community Engagement for the L.A. County High School for the Arts.

Dr. DAVID HAYES-BAUTISTA - Achievement in Academia
David E. Hayes-Bautista is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the School of Medicine at UCLA. He graduated from U.C. Berkeley and completed his doctoral work in Basic Sciences at the UC Medical Center, San Francisco. He has an important voice in the statewide and national dialogue concerning the provision and access to health care. Dr. Hayes-Bautista's research appears in a variety of medical journals, he is an accomplished writer and researcher, and is often asked to provide opinions on radio and television in both Spanish and English. His most recent book is El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition elaborates on the true origins of the Cinco de Mayo holiday.

CAINE MONROY - 2012 Dynamic Youth Award
9-Year old Caine Monroy, utilizing his ingenuity and resourcefulness, built an elaborate cardboard arcade using boxes and materials he found in his dad's used auto parts store in Boyle Heights. A filmmaker who stumbled upon the arcade, decided to organize a flashmob and make a short film about Caine's business, which he posted on the internet. The now famous 11-minute film was viewed 4.5 million times in its first week, and the website generated contributions of more than $190,000 for Caine's education, with matching funds for the Caine's Arcade Foundation to support other creative kids. Caine's ingenuity and can-do attitude has inspired countless others to use their imagination, to be resourceful and to enjoy life by playing games.

JULIA PEREZ - Achievement in Film & Media
Julia Perez is Associate Director of the film "The Harvest/La Cosecha". A senior Electronic Design Automation engineer by profession, Ms. Perez would speak to underrepresented and migrant field working children about studying, financial aid, and college. One day, at a large speaking event, she asked a coordinator why no migrant children were in attendance. The response: "I weeded them out for you. Only the ones that have a chance are here." This incident sparked Ms. Perez to take action. She spent three years filming the documentary film "The Harvest/La Cosecha" across the country then advocating for the children at events, radio, screenings and television. Ms. Perez is currently writing Among The Forgotten, a behind-the-scenes book describing the challenges of filming "The Harvest/La Cosecha."

FRANK ROMERO - Achievement in Art & Civil Rights
Frank Romero has been a dedicated member of the Los Angeles arts community for over 40 years.
As a member of the 1970s Chicano art collective, Los Four, Romero helped define and promote the new awareness of La Raza through murals, publications and exhibitions. Los Four's historic 1974 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was the country's first show of Chicano art at a major art institution. Since then, Romero has successfully balanced a career in both the public and private arenas, and has shown extensively in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

IRVIN "PEE WEE" SALINAS – Achievement in Music & Entertainment
Irvin "Pee Wee" Salinas established himself as a rising star in the entertainment world by the age of 13, as the vocalist of the popular group, Los Kumbia Kings, which was later renamed Kumbia All Starz. Their songs "Sabes A Chocolate" and "Na, Na, Na Dulce Niña" became huge hits around the world, and PeeWee turned "Chiquilla" and "Speedy González" into the "It" songs of his generation. In 2009, he won the popular reality television program "Show de los Sueños: Sandre de Mi Sangre" and was invited to participate in the show's second season, which he ultimately won again. After touring several countries with his bilingual rhythms, starring in the Novela, "Camaleones", and serving as the ambassador for the McDonald's RMHC/HACER National Scholarships for three consecutive years, the young idol prepares to launch his second Album with Sony Music.

GARY SOTO - Achievement in Poetry & Literature
Gary Soto is the author of thirteen poetry collections for adults, most notably "New and Selected Poems," a 1995 finalist for both the L.A. Times Award and the National Book Award. He has received the Discovery/The Nation Prize and the California Library Association's John and Patricia Award, in addition to fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1999 he was honored with the Human and Civil Right Award from the American Education Association, the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and the PEN Center West Book Award for his young-adult short story collection Petty Crimes. In all, his books have sold nearly four million copies.

EDUARDO XOL - Achievement in Design, Entertainment, & Philanthropy
Best known as one of the star designers on the 2 time Emmy award winning television program, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Eduardo's many professional accomplishments include stretches as a musician, entrepreneur, model and philanthropist. At the age of ten, Eduardo became an accomplished keyboardist and percussionist as one of the youngest musicians to ever perform with the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1999, after starting his own record label, Mythic Music Group (MMG), and while touring the release of his first single, which was inspired by the brutal murder of Matthew Shephard who was targeted for his sexual orientation, Eduardo publicly came out of the closet. After parting with MMG, Eduardo established Xol Design, an exterior and landscape design company. He works with many charities and is founder of The Alumi Media Group, a Non-profit organization that shares alternative education theories through media, to children in underserved communities.

Formed in 1973 by five Democratic Assembly Members, the Latino Legislative Caucus Members represent diverse geographical regions throughout the State and draws on the unique background and experiences of its 8 Senators and 15 Assembly Members to address issues affecting California's working families.