Monday, April 30, 2007

Cool Jim Is At It Again

Guest post by Sean Braisted

Former GOP Candidate for the State House in District 58, Jim Boyd, is at it again, this time running for Metro Council At Large. His campaign platform? You guessed it...those dirty, dirty "illegals".

Adam Kleinheider at Volunteer Voters points us to Jim Boyd's first campaign commercial, which basically blames unauthorized immigrants for every social ill under the Sun.

Last year, during the run-up to the Democratic primary for the 58th seat, I had a lengthy discussion about his anti-immigration platform over at my blog Nashville for the 21st Century. Boyd essentially supported the people taking the law into their own hands:

You said "By law, the State can't deport people..." Yes Sean, we are a nation of laws. But in the United States of America, the law is NOT supreme! We The People are supreme because we dictate the law, not the other way around! And therein lies a basic flaw in your argument. The extreme Right and the extreme Left agree on some things. One of those things is that both sides want people to forget that in this country, PEPOLE control the law! They would rather have a weak, sheepish population that believes that the law is supreme and chiseled in stone, and they are powerless against it!

Boyd went on to say he supports dropping "illegals" off at the State border and letting other states deal with them. On his website he shows a picture of himself at the Mexico-US border proudly proclaiming "[m]ost of me is in the United States. My butt and my boot heels are in Mexico."

Voter apathy in local elections is a huge problem. While we must support quality candidates such as Fabian Bedne, we must also pay attention to the opposition. With a strong right-wing radio system in Nashville, there is always the potential for people like Boyd to get pushed into office, especially if there is low turnout.

Be sure and vote, or Jim Boyd, Jim Gotto, and others will be showing their butts to immigrants in Nashville for the next four years.

Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber networking night Tuesday May 1

May Celebration Networking Night

Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Invites you...

to a Chamber networking night on TUESDAY, May 1st from 5:30PM to 7PM at the WILLIAMSON COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY, 1314 Columbia Ave, Franklin, TN 37064. $5. All meetings are in English. Everyone welcome.

Directions: I65 to Franklin. Take a right at the exit onto 96/ Murfreesboro Road, Go straight until you hit the Franklin Square. Go around the roundabout and take a right on Main Street. Take a left on Columbia. It will be on your right. 1314 Columbia Ave.

Fiesta Belmont: music, dance, food May 5

Belmont University is again hosting its annual Fiesta Belmont party this Saturday, May 5 from 11am to 7pm. The event is free to the public and boasts "live music & over 30 Latin food vendors & performers" with "folkloric dance exhibitions."

For more information visit the official event web site.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sumner County Catholics support Spanish-speakers

"Parishioners who yearned to hear the word of God in their native language"

The Tennessean reported in this story that Sumner County Catholic churches are supportive of a groundswell in demand for Spanish-speaking mass and religious gatherings in various churches. The article lists three specific congregations and cites one reverend who visits five Spanish-speaking communities weekly.

"Diorka Ortega, a Cuban from West Palm Beach, Fla., said the idea for a Spanish-language Mass at Our Lady of the Lake started with a few parishioners who yearned to hear the word of God in their native language."

"'We had seven families that got together and proposed it to Father Bevington and the congregation. Everyone was so supportive,' said Ortega, who serves as the coordinator for the church's Hispanic ministry."

"Ortega said that the Spanish-language Mass began at Our Lady of the Lake about a year ago, with about 30 in attendance. 'Now, we have about 200 people who attend on a regular basis,' she said. Ortega attributed the rapid rise to word of mouth in a close-knit Hispanic community."

"She said that the Hispanic parishioners 'come from all over Latin America … Panama, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and Peru. (Hispanics) are a growing part of the population, and there's a real need for spiritual enhancement in their lives,' Ortega said."

Read full story here

Photo by Tracy

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Faces in the crowd

Los Angeles. 102 degrees.

No story today, just a picture.

Photo by Shavar

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Murfreesboro library to celebrate children's books, stories in several languages April 30

Murfreesboro's Daily News Journal announced a multilingual book day on Monday, April 30:

El Dia de los Niños/El Libros (Children's Day/Book Day): 3:30 p.m., Linebaugh Public Library, 105 W. Vine St., Murfreesboro. Co-sponsored by Linebaugh and Read to Succeed. National program created to celebrate childhood and bilingual literacy. Activities include special story time in several languages, book displays and refreshments. Free, open to all ages. Joan Hemphill, (615) 893-4131, ext. 114.

Photo by Trevor DeVincenzi

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Javier Arrieta nature photography at Palette Gallery; reception April 27

Unseen WondersNashville photographer Javier Arrieta will exhibit select nature photography at the Palette Gallery & Cafe today through Saturday, April 28. A reception is scheduled for Friday, April 27 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Art sales will benefit the Nature Conservancy.

For more information, click on the invitation above.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Los Straitjackets at the Basement, Tuesday April 24

Big Sandy on vocals

Rock En Espanol Vol. 1 album, tour

"Sung almost exclusively in Spanish and is expertly filtered through a Mexican and Mexican-American cultural prism"

"Shakes, rattles and rolls with enough passion and infectious verve to fuel several dance marathons"

The Nashville-based Los Straitjackets will perform tomorrow night, April 24, at the Basement, according to the Nashville Scene's music blog Nashville Cream, which also reports that Los Straitjackets "will be joined by Big Sandy from the Fly Rite Boys on vocals". The Nashville City Paper reviewed the band's latest album Rock En Espanol, Vol. 1 in a two-paragraph blurb here:

"Los Straitjackets’ Rock En Espanol (Yep Roc) puts some Spanish flavor into vintage R&B and doo-wop, with Cesar Rosas and Little Willie G., putting some soul into their versions of 'Poison Ivy,' 'Gimme Little Sign' and 'Anna' among others."

"But they also dip into some more contemporary rock items with stirring renditions of 'All Day and All Of The Night' and 'Wild Thing,' plus more novelty fare with a great cover of 'Bony Maronie.' Don’t let a lack of fluency in Spanish prevent you from enjoying the tunes on Rock En Espanol, because their presentation and performances communicate the essence of classics like 'Slow Down,' 'You’ll Lose A Good Thing” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” (all songs also listed on the CD in Spanish).

While both the Nashville Scene and the Nashville City Paper recommend Los Straitjacket's performance and new album, the Oregon-based gave the new album a more lengthy review, and glowing praise, here.

"...they create an ebullient tribute to vintage rock and R&B that is sung almost exclusively in Spanish and is expertly filtered through a Mexican and Mexican-American cultural prism. What results is a celebration of 'rocanrol Mexicano' that shakes, rattles and rolls with enough passion and infectious verve to fuel several dance marathons. So expect lots of frenzied, if not quite holy, gyrations when Los Straitjackets, featuring guest vocalist Big Sandy, kick off a three-month national tour..."

"...few albums this fun also boast such an intriguing history. And if Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy sound even half as inspired on their joint tour as they do on this album, their tour promises to be muy caliente!"

Rock En Espanol can be bought or sampled on here or on iTunes here. Label Yep Roc has more information here.

The band's official web site is here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Music is the star in Latino Film Series at Nashville Film Festival April 23-26

Mariachi, tango, and violin featured in three Latino films

Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber sponsors

Discount for Hispanic Nashville Notebook readers

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* (NAHCC) announced its sponsorship of the NaFF Latino Film Series, which features musical themes in films from the U.S., Mexico, and Argentina. Descriptions of the films are below.

The NAHCC is also offering its festival discount to readers of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook. To get a $2 per-ticket-discount on any of the 240 film screenings and a $5 per-ticket-discount to any of the panels and workshops at the Nashville Film Festival, go to, select the tickets you want to buy, and in the checkout process, enter the promo code NaFF

NaFF Latino Film Series

COMPANERAS (80 min.) An intimate profile of America's first all-female mariachi band: Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. Taking on a male-dominated culture and musical tradition, this group shatters stereotypes while expanding the popularity of mariachi music. USA, directed by Liz Massie and Matthew Buzzell. Monday, April 23, 7:30pm and Tuesday, April 24, 2:30pm. Directors in person.

THE VIOLIN (106 min.) This award winning Mexican film is a tender and tense drama about a rebel army, the military, and a gentle, elderly violin-playing peasant’s attempt to outwit the commander in order to smuggle out ammunition. Mexico, directed by Francisco Vargas, Tuesday, April 24, 7:00pm.

El ULTIMO BANDONEON (94 min.) Simply infectious documentary about the tango, (the bandoneon (the accordion-type instrument that makes the tango the tango) and its players who go to great pains to play the music right. Argentina, directed by Alejandro Salderam who will appear in person. Wednesday, April 25, 7:00pm and Thursday, April 26, 2:00pm. Sponsored by Tango Nashville

*Hispanic Chamber 101: There are four Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee: the first three are the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tennessean profiled these three chambers in this article in June 2006. A fourth chamber was incorporated last year (the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) but no activities have been announced.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Clarksville's Rivers & Spires Festival begins today; International Streetfest tomorrow and Saturday

Celebrate Clarksville's diverse culture by enjoying a showcase of costumes, dance, food and visual arts. Dance the night away at International Streetfest on Friday, April 20 - from 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m and Saturday, April 21 - 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.

More information about the International Streetfest is here. The Streetfest is part of the city's annual Rivers & Spires Festival:

Imagine an event with FREE live music, arts and crafts from local artists, fun activities for children of all ages, and unique celebrations from all cultures - on the streets of historic downtown Clarksville, Tenn. That's the annual Rivers & Spires Festival! We hope you join us April 19-21, for a wide variety of events for adults and children celebrating our city and honoring our heroes.

The 2007 Rivers & Spires Festival features over 100 entertainers including LEE GREENWOOD, DIAMOND RIO, and 2007 MISS USA RACHEL SMITH. Check our festival schedule for time and locations of all our entertainers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tango and a Movie at the Nashville Film Festival Wednesday, April 25

Argentinean director Alejandro Saderman presents "El ultimo bandoneon"

Live tango presentation to accompany film

Nashville director Yuri Cunza circulates Under the Skin teaser

The Tennessean reported here on the Nashville Film Festival and the upcoming appearance of Argentinean director Alejandro Saderman to present his film "El ultimo bandoneon."

"Also attending, for the screening of his documentary El Ultimo Bandoneon, will be Argentine director Alejandro Saderman."

"For the screening of Saderman's film, for example, Tango Nashville, a nonprofit committed to spreading the word about Argentine art and culture, will offer a demonstration of the tango dancing that figures prominently in the film."

The announcement from Tango Nashville follows:

'Tango & a Movie' at the Nashville Film Festival
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
5:00 to 6:30 PM: MEMBERS ONLY Reception at the Nashville Film Festival
In partnership with the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Film Festival.
7:00 to 9:00 PM: Movie Screening followed by a Q & A
Alejandro Saderman, Director of the movie 'El ultimo bandoneon' (The Last Bandoneon), will fly up from Argentina to present the movie that will be screened following the reception.
Click on this link to take a sneak peak of the movie:
We will also have a Trivia Contest about the movie. Prizes include passes to ‘Milongas' and to this summer's Tango workshops. Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

Another film of interest to Hispanic Nashville is Under the Skin, a movie by Nashvillian Yuri Cunza. Made in 2001 and focusing on newcomers to Nashville, the film has been getting attention lately in the context of the national discussion about immigrants. Cunza made the first few minutes of the film available on YouTube and has been instrumental in bringing Hispanic films to the Nashville Film Festival.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No Hispanic participation in South Nashville planning?

A Woodbine resident who has participated in recent South Nashville planning meetings says that "a few of us have noted a regretful lack of Hispanic participation in the meetings," and that "many of us would like to know that this very important segment of our community is represented."

For more information about the South Nashville planning process see this page or this invitation.

The remaining meetings are scheduled as follows:

Structure Plan Workshop

Thursday, May 3
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
New Song Church (2949 Nolensville Pk)

Draft Structure Plan Presentation
Transportation / Community Facilities
Thursday, May 17
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
New Song Church (2949 Nolensville Pk)

Wrap Up Meeting
Thursday, May 31
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
New Song Church (2949 Nolensville Pk)

Contact Information:
Anita McCaig, 862-7156
Bob Eadler, 862-7167

Another, separate community planning process is Nashville's Agenda, which was described in this story in the Tennessean. Conexion Americas' Jose Gonzalez is one of the initial planning committee members of Nashville's Agenda.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fabian Bedne for Council fundraiser, Friday April 20

Jose and Claire Gonzalez sent out this invitation to a fundraiser for Fabian Bedne, who is running for Metro Council:

Margaritas with Fabian!

Please join us for a margarita and to support candidate for Davidson County Council District #31

Fabian Bedne

Friday, April 20, 2007

4:00-6:00 PM

US Border Cantina

106 29th Avenue North , Nashville, TN

Suggested campaign contribution $50.00

Please make checks payable to: ‘Friends of Fabian Bedne’

Your Hosts:

Mabel Arroyo Jose Gonzalez Miguel Torres Maitane Tidwell Cristina Allen

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bilingual story time at Edmondson Pike Library Saturday April 14

Book 'Em and the Nashville Public Library present
Bilingual Story Time
Edmonson Pike Branch Library
April 14

11 am - 12 pm

Join us for a morning of interactive literacy
including Spanish/English stories, games, and songs

5501 Edmondson Pike
Nashville, TN 37211
(615) 880-3957

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tennessee and Nashville aiming for "dominant international player" image

Nashville is "the most successful recruiter of Japanese business and investment of any city off the West Coast of America"

80% of Japanese citizens in U.S. live in Tennessee and Kentucky

"Hundreds of thousands of jobs" brought by foreign companies

State must be careful not to "send the wrong message to potential investors from all over the world about how receptive Tennessee is"

The BusinessTN Magazine reports here that Tom Jurkovich, chief of economic development for the Nashville Office of the Mayor, is pitching Tennessee as a "dominant international player in the region." Jurkovich made the comment in the context of Japan's recent decision to locate a full-service consulate in Nashville, the first full-service consulate of any country to be located in the state.

BusinessTN points to then-governor and now-U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander's seminal trip to Japan in the early 1980s, which lauched multiple relationships between major Japanese companies and Tennessee. "[R]oughly 80% of Japan’s U.S. population now resides in Tennessee and Kentucky," according to the article.

Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell is currently in China with a delegation of Nashville businesses, according to this Nashville Business Journal article. Purcell is also honorary chair of Sister Cities of Nashville, and in 2004 he created an International Mayor's Night Out (story here),

In February, Mayor Purcell vetoed a foreign language ban passed by the Metro Council, citing in part this month's trip to China and the arrival of the Japanese consulate (story here). In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Purcell illustrated the conflict between the language ban and Nashville's international business development, by way of his bilingual business cards:

"Purcell, a careful politician who's chosen to make this his first major veto, flips his business card onto his desk in exasperation. On the front his name and number are in English; on the back, in Japanese."

"'My business card would have been illegal,' he said. 'Why is my card in English and Japanese? It's not because I speak Japanese. It's because we are the most successful recruiter of Japanese business and investment of any city off the West Coast of America. We greet Japanese visitors in Japanese at the airport. This law would have said that was illegal. And that's wrong in every way.'"

Mayor Purcell is not the only senior Tennessee official to reach out to China in recent memory; Governor Phil Bredesen met with the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. last year (story here). One Tennessee official is concerned that the state's image abroad can be jeopardized by seemingly innocuous actions - like Nashville's language ban and even a stray comment or two in the recent U.S. Senate campaign, according to this article in the Nashville City Paper:

Matt Kisber, the commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development for the State of Tennessee, "is partly charged with recruiting businesses to come to Tennessee," according to the article. "He and the state recently swung and missed at landing a Toyota manufacturing plant in Chattanooga."

"Kisber, speaking with reporters a day after Toyota’s decision and prior to a meeting of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the state needs to be 'very careful' when considering putting driver’s license tests only in English."

"'I want to be careful that we don’t send the wrong message to potential investors from all over the world about how receptive Tennessee is to their coming and investing money and creating jobs and their company executives being able to live here and be welcome,' Kisber said."

Kisber also described a meeting with Canadian officials, who were taken aback by a campaign commercial run by now-U.S. Senator Bob Corker, in which a character "specifically referenced Canada, suggesting that the country could 'take care of North Korea' because 'they’re not busy.'"

"'They took that very personally,' Kisber said. 'And I spent the better part of half of my meeting convincing them of why we like Canada.'"

"Kisber said ... the Consular General of Japan has voiced concerns on a 'number of occasions' about measures like putting driver’s license tests in English-only."

"Kisber said the state has a very 'international economy' and has 'hundreds of thousands of jobs' as a result of investments by foreign companies... - includ[ing] about 350 European-based companies, 160 Japanese and a 'dozen or so' South American."

Name tag by

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

John Lamb, founder and editor of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, to speak at Charlemos Spanish on Thursday, April 12

John LambI will be speaking tomorrow night at Charlemos Spanish, the Spanish-language conversation group affiliated with Sister Cities. The press release is below.

John Lamb, founder and editor of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook web site, will make a presentation, in Spanish, at the next meeting of Charlemos Spanish on Thursday 12 April. Charlemos Spanish, a social conversation group for all levels of Spanish-speakers, meets the second and fourth Thursday of the month from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Palette Gallery and Cafe at 2119 Belcourt Avenue in Hillsboro Village. The event is free and open to the public.

The Hispanic Nashville Notebook web site includes news, events, and photos of the Hispanic members of the Nashville community. The site is published in English and its readers include Hispanics and others, immigrants and native-born North Americans - and it has become a treasure of information about the Hispanic part of Nashville's identity.

“Mr. Lamb will share stories that have appeared in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook during its three years in existence”, said Elizabeth Worrell Braswell, president of Charlemos Spanish.

Mr. Lamb explained, “I will delve into what motivates me to even have such a site, i.e., the values that inform how we approach discussions about Spanish, Hispanics, and immigrants in light of the kind of people and the kind of community we want to be.”

John Lamb is an attorney in the law firm of Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry, PLC. Born and raised in Nashville, Mr. Lamb took his first Spanish class at Montgomery Bell Academy. Mr. Lamb majored in Spanish at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas and lived for two years in Santiago, Chile, in South America, before studying law at the University of Chicago Law School.

John has served the Hispanic chambers of commerce, the non-profit organization Conexion Americas, the values campaign known as the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), and Primera Iglesia Bautista de Nashville - a church plant of the First Baptist Church Downtown.

Charlemos Spanish was created in December 2006 by the Spanish Committee of Sister Cities of Nashville, a nonprofit organization, founded in 1990, dedicated to the promotion of global understanding through educational, professional and cultural exchanges.

Mayor Bill Purcell is the Honorary Chair for Sister Cities of Nashville.

Charlemos Spanish is for persons who wish to:

* Speak Spanish on a regular basis
* Make bilingual friends
* Learn more about Hispanic culture.

The president of Charlemos Spanish is Elizabeth Worrell Braswell. Mrs. Braswell is an online Spanish instructor for Austin Peay State University and a board member of Sister Cities of Nashville.

Upcoming Charlemos Spanish meetings are:

* 26 April, Phil Rasico, Vanderbilt Spanish Professor
* 10 May, Diana Holland, President of Tango Nashville.

For directions and more information on the gallery go to:

Nashville campaign against drunk driving featured in USA Today

USA Today reported here about last year's campaign in Nashville that targeted drunk driving among Hispanics:

"After several fatalities involving Hispanic men driving drunk last year in Nashville, Conexion Americas, a non-profit community organization, teamed with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, State Farm Insurance, police and Hispanic media in an initiative in Tennessee."

"'It was the first time anything like that had been done in Tennessee,' says Jose Gonzalez, executive director of Conexion Americas."

"Gonzalez sees a lack of awareness about the dangers of drunken driving among many young Hispanic men — 'especially recent immigrants from the rural areas of Mexico, Guatemala or wherever. Most likely, they didn't even own a car in their home country. These immigrants, when they come to the United States and are able to purchase a car, they don't have this drunk driving message in their paradigm. They've never been exposed to these constant messages.'"

See the original story from the Hispanic Nashville Notebook here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

WKRN anchor Maddela laments racism on Web

Cites online comments and chat boards

The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle reports here that WKRN anchor Christine Maddela, speaking to a group of students at Austin Peay State University for Diversity Day, pointed to modern examples of racism in Middle Tennessee's online media:

"Maddela read to the audience several racial comments one would think were written during the Jim Crow era or in Adolph Hitler's diary."

"Rather, she found them on Internet chat sites and newspaper chat forums, including this one from the Tennessean's StoryChat: 'Who the hell wants diversity? That's why we move to Williamson County in the first place. You want that crap, move to Antioch.'"

"'I wish I could say racism doesn't exist anymore,' said Maddela, Nashville's first Hispanic TV news anchor. 'I wish I could say that children live in that nation where they are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.'"

Maddela had previously posted a list of problematic comments here on the WKRN web site

Even beyond discussions of Hispanic and immigrant issues, the uncivil tone of online speech has been getting attention lately, including from the New York Times tech writer David Pogue here, and more recently in the context of a proposed blogger code of conduct (as reported here by the BBC).

Read the full Leaf-Chronicle story about Diversity Day at Austin Peay here

Dollywood Festival of the Nations: Now through May 7

Peru, Ecuador featured in Pigeon Forge

Celebrate the pageantry of more than 250 international performers at Dollywood’s Festival of Nations, a multi-cultural spring festival. Musicians, dancers and artisans bring a world of entertainment to the Great Smoky Mountains.

From Ireland to Russia to Zambia and Ecuador, enjoy all the festivities at this five-week event where the best of East Tennessee blends with spectacular international performances for an extravaganza like no other at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee near Gatlinburg.

Don't miss a world of entertainment from The Russian National Theatre, Peru's Yawar Chicchi folk music & dance, Switzerland's Streichmusik Alder, featuring folk music and alpine horns, master yodeler Kerry Christensen, Ukraine's Dyvo Kalynove, children's folk music and dance group, Zambian Vocal Group, Trinidad's Stix on Steel and Ecuador's Atahualpa.

Yawar Chicchi delights audiences with the “dance of scissors,” the artistic symbol of Peru. A dance of religious origin featuring captivating displays of art and physical skill, the “dance of scissors” features traditional song and dance along with colorful costumes as Yawar Chicchi shares the customs and traditions of the Andean man.

Veterans of various festivals around the world, Atahualpa's traditional rhythms celebrate the rich history and culture of South America’s Andes Mountains where salsa and meringue music creates a colorful and entertaining carnival festival for all to enjoy.

Photo: Atahualpa (Ecuador)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Minority PhD candidates expected to rise in Vanderbilt-Fisk partnership

Astronomy professor mentor inspired by immigrant mother

Vanderbilt University is partnering with Fisk University in a partnership designed to encourage minority doctorate degrees in the sciences. The concept is to provide a "bridge" from a master's degree to a doctoral program. In the U.S., minority doctorates in astronomy are bestowed at the rate of 1 every 14 years, but the bridge program expects a frequency of 2 every year.

Vanderbilt University Astronomy Professor Keivan Stassun is featured in this Vanderbilt-produced video about the program. Stassun says that his participation in the program is inspired by his mother, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico.

Friday, April 6, 2007

What Love Is

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Photo by reiscakes.

Text by Jesus' disciple John, from 1 John 3:16

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Tennessee part of national "Night of 1,000 Conversations" for immigrants

Dinner conversation

Over 25 separate conversations taking place across the state on Thursday, April 5

National campaign chairman invokes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"How do our core American values compare?"

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has joined a national call to restore due process to immigrants:

With the STRIVE Act jumpstarting legislative action on immigration reform this spring, members and allies of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) are joining the “Night of 1,000 Conversations” on April 5, 2007 to spur Congress to address the government’s over-reactive detention and deportation practices and restore due process to the immigration system. “The Night” creates an opportunity to hold conversations in private homes and public spaces to discuss one key topic: How do our core American values compare with the actions of a government that locks people up without due process?

“Current laws unfairly deny basic due process to thousands of people in America and do nothing to solve the immigration issue. Many of us are not aware that our government wants to hold immigrants all over this country in prison without a hearing and without any plan or idea for when they will be let free,” said David Lubell of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). “Through the Night of 1,000 Conversations we’ll begin to shed some light on these unconstitutional practices and human rights violations so we can put an end to them.”

One of TIRRC’s priorities is to make sure that any reform of the immigration laws fully incorporates the American tradition of respecting and protecting due process, including fair proceedings and government accountability. The Night is held on April 5, 2007, during the Congressional recess when lawmakers will be in their districts and during the religious season for some people. It is designed to provide a path for average people, without millions of dollars in advertising money, and without advanced degrees and policy expertise, to reassert their place in the public debate on these critical issues.

TIRRC is taking part in this action as part of the Liberty & Justice for All campaign. There are over a dozen organizations helping to facilitate these conversations around the country. A full list of the leading organizations is available on the website Thousands of the participants will make decisions on Thursday night to take some collective action around the principles of Due Process.

Tennessee Conversations Open to the Media

* Atlanta Bread Company, 1720 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN
April 5th, 6:00pm (Central)
contact: Betsy Collum at 706-676-0343 or
* Home of Sharmila Murthy, 105 Stokeswood Place, Nashville, TN
April 5th, 7:00pm (Central)
American Constitution Society, Nashville Chapter
contact: Sharmila Murthy at 615-525-5891 or
* Islamic Center of Nashville, 2515 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN
April 5th, 6:30pm (Central)
contact: Rashed Fakhurrudin at 615-480-6146 or
* Home of Lissa McLeod, 4627 Martin Mill Pike, Knoxville, TN
April 5th, 7:30pm (Eastern)
contact: Lissa McLeod at 865-609-2012 or

Dr. King's Vision Shows Path to Reform

The following is a statement of Karen K. Narasaki, chair of the Rights Working Group (RWG), a national coalition of more than 200 human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and immigrant rights groups that is sponsoring the Night of 1,000 Conversations event. Narasaki is also president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center.

Thirty-nine years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, but his powerful legacy, the strength of his words, his call for justice and ability to mobilize people from all backgrounds and beliefs for positive change have long outlasted his death.

Today, another important fight for civil rights is unfolding across the country, and it, too, demands a massive effort built on the call for justice. It involves protecting the basic human rights and freedoms of immigrants and their families who are striving to make the American dream their own and, in doing so, protecting the essence of our democracy for all Americans.

Amid a heated national immigration debate, Americans and non-citizens alike are facing serious erosions of fundamental freedoms. Congress will be asked to address the question of whether America lives up to its ideals of fairness in how we treat immigrants –- legal and undocumented -– in our court system.

Right now, low-level government clerks are deporting people without even giving them a hearing. No second opinion. No judge. No jury. It is a system that allows immigration officials to operate with no accountability when they make decisions that affect many thousands of people.

The U.S. government wants to imprison people indefinitely without any idea for when they will be released. Some in Congress, if they had a choice, would condemn people to prolonged detention simply because they cannot be removed to their home countries through no fault of their own.

We begin to counteract such overreaching by our government with conversations -– not unlike the many Dr. King helped to spark more than four decades ago. These conversations engaged and activated thousands of everyday citizens, changing the course of history.

As a fitting tribute to Dr. King's memory, on April 5 conversations will take place in living rooms, coffee shops, schools, community centers and places of worship. Perspectives will be shared among friends, family and neighbors of all backgrounds, professions, beliefs, racial and ethnic backgrounds nationwide. Their common bond: a desire to see positive change in the name of the American dream.

Conversations help us share our core values, and enable us to act collectively. And, as anyone who has fought for fairness knows, the impetus behind any positive political or social change almost always begins with conversation.

In fact, Dr. King himself summed it up best. “In any nonviolent campaign,” he wrote from his jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama following a peaceful protest against segregation, “there are four basic steps: collection of facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification and direct action.”

We sound that resonant spirit with a chorus of voices which will honor Dr. King’s spirit and the thousands of ordinary Americans who together moved a nation by advancing a new movement for much-needed change -– to the benefit of all Americans.

Photo (top) by Richard Wanderman

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Frist Center hosts Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber meeting April 5

Free admission to Mexico and Modern Printmaking exhibit

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* invites its members and guests to meet at the Frist to see the magnificent art exhibition honoring some of the most renown mexican printmakers such as Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siquieros and others, currently on display at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville.

Mexico and Modern Printmaking: A Revolution in the Graphic Arts, 1920-1950 examines the vital contributions made by Mexican and foreign-born printmakers working in Mexico. The exhibition features 125 prints and posters by 50 artists, including Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, who, while best known for their revolutionary murals and paintings, made extraordinary contributions to the field of printmaking, which they embraced because it could reach a wide audience with their political message.

The exhibition also features works by some American artists affiliated with the Taller de Gráfica Popular, a celebrated cooperative print workshop founded in Mexico City in 1937. Playing a crucial role in sustaining the ideals of the Mexican Revolution, the workshop printed limited-edition works to capture the attention of international collectors, as well as mass-produced posters and leaflets intended for widespread distribution to the native populace.

FREE admission and complementary parking for NAHCC members and guests on April 5th, 2007 is made possible thanks to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

NAHCC members wishing to attend please call Loraine Segovia or Alejandra Rodriguez at 615-216-5737 or via e-mail

For additional information visit us online at:

*Hispanic Chamber 101: There are four Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee: the first three are the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tennessean profiled these three chambers in this article in June 2006. A fourth chamber, the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, was incorporated in 2006. Earlier this year, the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber suspended its president Robert Chavez and appointed Ramon Cisneros as interim president (story here).

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Monica Galyon of Barr Group: business profile in NBJ

The Nashville Business Journal published this profile of Nashville businesswoman and joint Colombia-U.S. citizen Monica Galyon. Excerpts of the story are below:

"Monica Galyon, founder and president of the Barr Group, enjoys success today but she weathered more adversity than most entrepreneurs face to get there."

"A Miami-born, Hispanic woman who left high school at age 17 to join the work force, Galyon now heads a company projected to have approximately $5 million in 2007 revenues."

"The Barr Group, established in 1999, is a national, full-service distributor of a variety of products and services - including packaging, printing, signs, electronics, promotional products, industrial and chemical supplies and power tools."

"'I used to hide the fact that I was Colombian, when I started this business,' says Galyon. 'It absolutely gets your foot in the door, but our output needs to be better than majority-owned companies. We have a black eye going in. It's a disadvantage but also an opportunity.'"

The article also mentions Galyon's work on the Music City Walk of Fame.

Read the full story here.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Only 2 percent were turned away from Ellis Island

Relatively open-door policies made it easier for earlier generations

Border Patrol chief promotes wider legal entry points as law enforcement tool

"Controlled, orderly and fair"

The New York Times reported on a recent Congressional hearing at Ellis Island on the history of U.S. immigrant policy, in which officials pointed out the more liberal system in place for previous generations of immigrants to the United States:

"[O]nly 2 percent of would-be immigrants were turned away at Ellis Island. The requirements were minimal compared with those of today, said Representative Linda Sánchez, a Democrat from California: reasonably good health and $10, or the equivalent of $216 in today’s dollars, to show that one would not become a public burden."

The chief of the Border Patrol at the Department of Homeland Security, David V. Aguilar, suggested that a return to the more open and orderly Ellis Island policies of the past would enable law enforcement to focus their resources on criminals instead of the "vast majority" of southern border-crossers who are only seeking employment.

"Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, evoked her immigrant grandfather, Carl Robert Lofgren, who debarked in Boston at 16 a century ago without money and speaking no English, 'armed only with his dreams, his work ethic, his optimism and visions of America forged from reading Westerns written in Swedish.'”

“'This room is a visible vestige of a controlled, orderly and fair immigration system,' she said."

Photo: "Emigrants coming to the 'Land of Promise'" - U.S. Library of Congress
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