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Edward R. Roybal was then introduced as the first founding chairman of the Boyle Heights C.S.O., the first Mexican-American ever elected to the city council of Los Angeles, the first Mexican-American to run for Lt. Governor of the State of California.
Mr. Roybal's speech:
This is the day in which we are making history not only here in the State of California, but throughout the whole Southwest and throughout the nation, because we are meeting here to form a national organization.
The issues we are concerned with are the issues that have inspired this convention. I am not going to go back to the many needs, nor am I going to review the tremendous success, because you know of it as well as I do. However, the need for organization is as great today as it was back in those days, as we look throughout the great Southwest and directly at the communities where the Spanish-Speaking people live.
We are a community that has suffered great indignities because we have been actually pushed aside so much that we are actually suffering from great indignities. . . the last to be hired and the first fired. We have been socially and politically ostracized. We have been deprived of our civil liberties and we have turned the other cheek. Our children have been segregated. We have been forced to attend segregated schools. Our children have been deprived of an education. . . children have to go out to the factories, canneries and fields to work to keep body and soul together. We have said this is the cross that we must bear.
Now we are no longer going to say that this is the cross which we have to bear. This is the convention in which we are now going to fight back and we are not going to stop until we have reached that point that we are a part of the overall community and that overall community responds to our needs and wishes.
We are now beginning this great organizational drive throughout the Southwest. We are organized for a common good and common purpose. We are going to see that the processes of democracy are put into operation in our country because, first of all, this is our country. Our parents came here not in the time of Plymouth Rock, they came a long time before that, and brought with them civilization and religion.
We have shed our blood in every battlefield. It is our country because our men have distinguished themselves on those battlefields and given a good account of their bravery and integrity. Casualty lists show that out of every twenty-one men reported missing or dead, at least five had Spanish-speaking names, a large percentage far in excess of the make-up of our population. . . an indication that we are fighting for the country we love so much.
In the list of twenty-one men who embraced communism after the Korean conflict there wasn't a single Spanish name on that list. This is a great tribute to us, the Spanish-speaking people, a great tribute to our American heritage.
But then we must come now to this organization. The war is over. Those who fought in the battlefields of the European and Korean conflicts are back, ready to assume their responsibilities in the community and do their civic part.
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We who are members of the Community Service Organization, we want to see to it that we get the rights that we have fought for. We will continue to fight and organize for these rights throughout the Southwest. We have a great responsibility because we are interested in this great movement. We are taking leadership in it and when we assume leadership, we must act as leaders are supposed to act and not lose heart because there is some criticism from one individual or another. We must not be divided so that jealousy will not black the organization to the detriment of our organization, to the detriment of our State of California and our country. We must be good losers as well as good winners and after the elections are over we must forget our differences. We must work together in the organization, get into the spirit of cooperation, working for the organization and forgetting the individual. Organization is more important than anyone [sic] individual, regardless of whom it happens to be.
We have a great responsibility also that we must not only assume leadership in the Mexican-American community alone, but in the overall community. We are no longer Mexican hyphen Americans. . . we are Americans.
We must work for fair employment practices legislation. We must fight for these things because our people in the past have suffered from discrimination. But not only our people, other people of minority groups have also suffered. We must have not a watered down F.E.P.C. but an effective legislation.
We must see to it that the McCarran act is repealed. There is a great job to be done if we work together in an organized manner.
We must work at the things we can do for our children, but we must also take care of the aged in the community in which we live. We must fight for an adequate pension plan in the State of California and in every State of the union so that people who are aged and no longer able to work cannot only live in peace, but live well.
There must be an end to segregation in the schools, equal opportunity in education and equal opportunity in employment and equal opportunity to integrate into the various communities and become an overall part of the American community.
Our greatest responsibility is fighting for freedom - for the four freedoms. One freedom that we should start fighting for with all our might is to have freedom from fear . . . from the fear that after we get our organization going, that after our children can go into academic life that they will not be dragged down before an unfair un-American committee, and freedom from the fear that after they become teachers that they can teach UNESCO in the schools of our country. Academic freedom - we must fight for the right to teach without fear. We must fight for other freedoms which I am not going to discuss at this time. F.D.R. said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. As we go out into our community and fight for the things we believe in, let us not forget these words of a great man and let us not forget that unless we have freedom, we cannot put into practise the principles of this great organization.
Going back to leadership, the leadership of an organization actually makes that organization, but the leadership does not have the whole responsibility. We cannot make leadership without being there to help them along. When you select your President and Vice-president, let us realize that he will make the kind of officer you want only if you help him. You can either make or break a President just as any constituents can make or break the man they elect to office.