Archive: Edward James Olmos in Española, NM – 3/15/02

Posted by on 08/11/2012

Amigos!  DanO here.

Javier Arellano and Edward James Olmos

I was digging thru the New Mexico Digital archive, and found an article I wrote on the Ides of March, back in ’02.

This was during the the thick of filming Zen & the Asteroid with NMD co-founder Javier Arellano, when we had the opportunity to meet and speak with Edward James Olmos.

Now, remember that this was before the new Battlestar Galactica series came out, but Olmos was already one of the major political voices for the hispanic community.

His arrival in Española to speak was a big deal.  That it happened at Northern New Mexico College was perfect, as this was where a 12 year old DanO first learned about computers, mainframes, and MacIntosh computers while sneaking into the college computer lab.

Anyway, read on for an archival account of the evening, 3/15/02.


Olmos in ‘Spaña

by Dan Otero – 3/15/02

Edward James Olmos arrived in Española on March 15 to help raise money and support for a public broadcasting television station based in Española. He spoke (briefly) at Española Valley High School, ate Dinner at Anthony’s and spoke again at Northern New Mexico Community College.

Olmos stood and delivered a powerful speech about the power and beauty of human cultures, and the need for an outlet for individuals to speak to the community.

Edward James Olmos y Esteban Arellano

One of the key elements of his talk focused on the lack of any American Heros of color. He challenged the audience to name a single person of color that they learned about in school who could be described as an American hero.

Someone like George Washington, or Benjamin Franklin. Aside from Martin Luther King, not a single American hero of color was mentioned. How pitiful.

Why are the stories of colored people–blacks, hispanics, indians–never told to our children? Why do all children in our country learn about the Pilgrims, and Plymouth rock, but never about Hispanic or Indian accomplishments and tragedies?

We are no less American, but you’d never know it by reading the textbooks taught in our public school systems.

Another key element of Olmos’ talk dealt with the misuse of the term Race. As in the White race, the Black race, the Asian race, et al.

We are but one race: The Human Race.

Mariachi music in Española, NM

However we are divided into many, many cultures. Olmos made a very clear distinction between the terms Race and Culture.

Cultures are the flavor of the human race.

Olmos spoke of the need for the public to speak. There must be a forum to discuss local events, problems and resolutions.

We all know that television is a powerful and far-reaching medium of communication. We also know that a few enormous corporations are slowly gaining control of ALL the media.

This is what makes public broadcasting so necessary.

We, the public, own the airwaves!

The government leases our airwaves to corporations who then fill our airwaves with commercials and controlled viewing.

We see a certain culture on television. In a way, it is American culture. But it does not represent all Americans. The stories and characters on TV represent a very narrow slice of the American fabric.

Edward James Olmos and Candi Arellano

Having an easily accessable public broadcasting network gives the power and the airwaves back to the people.

Finally, during one of his many humerous digressions, Olmos mentioned that his character from Zoot Suit, El Pachuco was named the 3rd most recognized character of all time. (Behind Stanley Kowalski from Streetcar Named Desire and Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman.)

It seemed that Mr. Olmos had a great time speaking to the city of Española. He spoke often in Spanish and humerously compared the Española crowd to a group he spoke to at Harvard.

He even recieved a woven vest from Ortega’s Weaving Shop in Chimayó.

-Dan Otero, 3.15.02




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