LULAC hosts anit-arizona concert
July 20, 2010 · Print This Article
More than 4,000 people turned out for a free concert with top Latino artists in Albuquerque on July 17 to protest Arizona’s new immigration law.
The concert, organized by the League of United Latin American Citizens, took place in the Tingley Coliseum on New Mexico’s state fairgrounds as the closing event for LULAC’s week-long annual conference, held July 12-17 at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Telemundo Communications Group, a division of NBC Universal, filmed the concert, which was sponsored by several corporations, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and MillerCoors. Telemundo will re-broadcast it nationwide on Sunday, July 25, as part of a special series of programs aimed at highlighting developments around the Arizona law.
Telemundo’s Spanish-language television network reaches about 93 percent of U.S. Hispanic viewers in 210 markets through 15 owned-and-operated stations, 45 broadcast affiliates and 800 cable affiliates.
The concert, titled Voces Unidas por América (Voices United for America), included some top-name Latino artists, including José José, Cristian Castro, Ozomatli and Pee Wee. Taboo, of the Blackeyed Peas, produced a special video that was aired during the concert, which will be part of the Telemundo rebroadcast.
Will-Dog Abers and Ulises Bella of Ozomatli, a Los Angeles-based band, told the New Mexico Business Weekly that they and other artists played for free to lend their voice in opposition to the Arizona state law.
It’s very important for artists to unite around civil rights issues like this,” Abers said. “Immigrants are unfairly being blamed for a lot of the nation’s problems. We need more concerts and events to raise awareness about these issues.”
Bella said anti-immigrant sentiment is a global issue affecting many countries in addition to the U.S.
”People are moving all around the world from different spots, and societies need to confront that reality and deal with it,” Bella said. “As artists, we can bring more attention to these issues. That’s especially important, given the anti-immigrant climate we’re in.”
Apart from the artists, U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, and U.S. Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., spoke out at the event against the Arizona law and in favor of comprehensive federal immigration reform. Baca is the former chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The Arizona law (SB 1070) was approved in April and is scheduled to take effect on July 29. It will require state police to check the legal status of anyone they suspect is undocumented. The federal government is suing to block that law as an infringement on federal jurisdiction.
A number of civil rights groups are also suing, including LULAC, which filed its lawsuit in early July, prior to the start of its annual convention.
LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes said the concert helps LULAC draw much more attention to the Arizona issue and immigration reform, in general, than the organization could otherwise accomplish on its own.
”We had some very big name artists. That’s important because LULAC is not a household name, but those stars are,” Wilkes said. “It helps us get the message out.”
The concert’s corporate sponsors contributed about $100,000 to carry out the event, Wilkes said.
Executive representatives for the corporate sponsors spoke at the event, but only one - Goya Foods Inc. Director of Public Affairs Rafael Toro – actually spoke out against the Arizona law.
Telemundo filmed the concert through its news department rather than its entertainment division, Wilkes said. Telemundo also donated air time for a 45-second commercial about LULAC.