Happy Birthday to Desi Arnaz

December 2, 1917, is the birthday of Desi Arnaz, famed as the Cuban-American bandleader Ricky Ricardo on the popular TV comedy, “I Love Lucy”.  Red-headed Lucille Ball played his wife.  Reportedly, CBS executives were initially reluctant to portray Arnaz as Ball’s husband, saying that a North American audience would not accept the scandalous idea of all-American Lucy being married to a Cuban. (Whoa!  There goes the neighborhood.) This reluctance was despite the fact that Lucy and Desi were married in real life. The CBS executives eventually got over it, and the hugely popular show ran from October 1951 to May 1957.  Spin-offs were later launched. For more on Arnaz’s impact on the average American’s perception of Latinos, please visit NPR.

Happy Birthday to Roque Cordero, Musician

Roque Cordero, famed composer and conductor, was born in Panama City, Panama on August 16, 1917. Cordero was educated at the University of Minnesota in the US.  He was a guest conductor on stages in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Panama, Spain, and the US. Cordero received numerous awards for his work, including a Guggenheim fellowship. He was a professor at the Illinois State University and Indiana University; the Latin American Music Center at the latter university holds a collection of his work.

The Mexican Constitutional Congress, 1917

On February 5, 1917, the current Mexican constitution was formally adopted by the Mexican Constitutional Congress.   The Articles of the Constitution outlined progressive provisions for mandatory elementary education, the establishment of freedom of speech and expression, equality between men and women under the law, and prohibiting the use of military court martial to judge civilians.

El 5 de febrero de 1917, la constitución mexicana vigente fue adoptada oficialmente por el Congreso Constituyente de México. Los artículos de la Constitución se indica disposiciones progresistas de la educación primaria obligatoria, el establecimiento de la libertad de palabra y de expresión, la igualdad entre hombres y mujeres ante la ley, y prohíbe el uso de tribunales militares para juzgar a civiles marcial.

Hector Perez Garcia, Mexican American Surgeon, Veteran and Civil Rights Advocate

January 17, 1917 is the birthday of Hector Perez Garcia (1914- 1996).  A Mexican American surgeon, World War II veteran and civil rights advocate, Garcia founded the American GI Forum in 1948, to assist veterans returning from the war.  He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, our nation’s highest civilian honor.  Earlier in his life, while fulfilling his medical residency in Nebraska, the FBI investigated complaints about him by local residents, for being a “Mexican” wearing an officer’s uniform.

The Zimmermann Telegram … Um, no, we are not attacking the USA

During World War I, the Germans attempted to ally with the Mexican government to attack the US.  In the Zimmermann Telegram from the German Foreign Secretary, the Germans proposed assisting the Mexicans in the re-conquest of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  The then President of Mexico did not think that attacking the United States was a particularly good idea, and declined the invitation.  (Image from Wikimedia Commons shows a demonic Germany directing Mexico to attack the US.)


Esquiel Cabeza De Baca (1864 – 1917)

On January 1, 1917, Esquiel Cabeza De Baca (1864 – 1917) was inaugurated as Governor of New Mexico.  Baca was the second elected Governor and the first Latinx Governor in New Mexico’s history.  He had served as Lieutenant Governor prior to his election as Governor.  He was a descendant of the original Spanish settlers.  Cabeza De Baca was also a prominent journalist and blogger, and founded the newspaper “La Voz del Pueblo”.