Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back on those we have lost

Dalia Perez, left (in pink), with her family in 2009
The Scene has published its memorial issue for those whose lives Nashville lost during the past year, and on page 18 is the obituary of Dalia Perez that they asked me to write.

Looking back through the archives of this web site brings to mind other Hispanic Nashvillians we have lost over the last decade, including
  • Maria Oza Gonzales
  • Carlos Santos-Silva
  • Azucena Rios
  • Max Gomez
  • Tim Chavez
  • Rodolfo Padilla
  • Fermin Estrada
  • Aureliano Ceja, and
  • Greg Rodriguez
Their stories are tragic.  For instance, Max was only 5 years old, the first H1N1 casualty of Nashville. Find out more about each of the above individuals by clicking on the In Memoriam label at the bottom of this story, or on In Memoriam in the Index.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

41% Hispanic, Apollo Middle pilots world culture course and student laptops

Nashville's Apollo Middle School, which is 41% Hispanic, is piloting a world culture course and a student laptop program, and its principal is making other gains getting notice elsewhere in the district.

The Tennessean reported here on Principal Ron Woodard, in its series of profiles called Nashville's Peacemakers. Here is how Woodard described to the Tennessean the genesis of Apollo's world culture course:
Woodard created a mandatory world cultures course, in which students learn about different religions, customs and ethnic foods. The student body is 41 percent Hispanic, 40 percent African-American and 10 percent white.

"When I got to this school there was a definite lack of cultural understanding, which led
to problems," said the father of two. "It's so important to develop that understanding in middle school because it's really when you start figuring out your identity."
Other recent innovations at the school include a "Slammin' Summer Reading" program, with teachers volunteering time during the summer (featured in the video above), and the Digital Academy for Success in High School (D.A.S.H.), in which students work on laptops during the school day. D.A.S.H. is featured in this video at Apollo's web site and also this report by NewsChannel 5.

270 middle school students attend Apollo, according to the Tennessean.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ana Escobar named 2012 President of Davidson County Democratic Women

Update: Escobar has resigned from the president-elect position of the Davidson County Democratic Women, to avoid the appearance of partisanship in her role as a member of the Judicial Commission. Lynda Jones, who nominated Escobar to the DCDW presidency, said Escobar "was a delight to have on our board for a brief 3 months. She will always remain well regarded."

Nashville attorney Ana Escobar has been named the 2012 President of the Davidson County Democratic Women.

Escobar has practiced criminal law in Nashville for over fifteen years. She started her career defending indigent citizens in the Office of the Public Defender and later became a prosecutor in the Office of the District Attorney, where she prosecuted mid-level drug organizations.

Escobar currently runs her own law firm - the Escobar Law Group - and is held in high regard by the local bar. In 2003, Escobar ranked second in a Nashville Bar Association rating of candidates for Davidson County General Sessions Judge.

Apart from her upcoming presidency of the DCDW, Escobar has held the following past and present community service roles:
  • Planning Commission for Davidson County, Tennessee, Commissioner
  • Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission, Commission
  • Nashville Bar Association, Board of Directors
  • Nashville Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Nashville Prevention Partnership, Board of Directors
  • Junior League of Nashville, Sustainer
  • Davidson County Election Commission, Commissioner
  • Nashville Bar Association, Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee
  • Hands on Nashville, Board of Directors
  • Advisory Council, El Protector
Escobar was raised in Nashville and is a graduate of St. Cecilia Academy (1988), Vanderbilt University (1992), and the George Washington University Law School (1995).

Some information sourced verbatim from Escobar's bio.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The copycats are back

Photo by kioan. Licensed via Creative Commons.

An editorial in Rutherford County's Daily News Journal questions whether Tennessee should copy Arizona's approach to immigration, without crunching the numbers ourselves.

I asked a similar question at the Scene blog a few weeks ago: Are Tennessee's legislators lining up local experts to draft and subsequently testify about the legislation, or are they just taking instructions from Arizona?

It's hard to say you have a high regard for Tennessee and its citizens if you keep them out of the deliberative process and let other states write laws for you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

History, students, Tennesseans take note of $2.3 billion decision on DREAM

The DREAM Act passed the House of Representatives on December 8, 2010 thanks in part to the votes of four Tennesseans:
  • Rep. Jim Cooper
  • Rep. Lincoln Davis
  • Rep. Bart Gordon, and
  • Rep. John Tanner
On December 18, the Senate refused to even vote on the merits of the DREAM Act, thanks in part to the votes of both Tennesseans there.

The DREAM Act would have allowed young Americans to fully participate in their communities and give back to their country, and it would have represented a net gain for the nation of $2.3 billion in revenue in the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Over the last few weeks, through events like food drives, blood donation and check delivery, immigrant youth leaders in Nashville and throughout the nation have been raising awareness of their importance to the fabric of this nation, as givers and caretakers in their community, as productive participators and leaders with a desire to serve and give back, and as financial contributors and generators of prosperity. Their potential $2.3 billion boost to the economy was embodied in a check that the Nashville DREAM Act Committee presented to the public on December 7.

Representatives Cooper, Davis, Gordon, and Tanner cashed that check.

Our U.S. Senators threw it away.

The following is the reaction of Stephen Fotopulos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:
Senators Corker and Alexander have failed a critical test of leadership today and placed themselves squarely on the wrong side of history. Today’s vote was extremely disappointing, and we are heartbroken for all the young people who have poured their hearts, minds, and bodies into this campaign only to be abandoned by those who represent us in the Senate. At the same time, this is just the beginning of the next chapter of our struggle, and none of us will rest until the nation’s immigration laws reflect basic American principles of justice and fairness.
This following is the reaction of Raquel Flores, a student and leader of the Tennessee DREAM Act Committee:
To Senator Corker and Senator Alexander, we would like to say that we will remember today’s vote for the rest of our lives. You will not forget us, because we will not stop fighting for justice. To our fellow Tennesseans, we would like to say that we are your brothers and sisters, we are your children and we are Americans. We are the same as you and we invite you to join us in this struggle.

We are deeply grateful to those leaders in the US House and Senate who brought the DREAM Act to the floor and demonstrated courage in their support of it. We also join in celebrating the victory for our gay brothers and sisters, who are closer to being able to serve proudly in the US military without being forced to live the lie of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ There are many forms of oppression, and we turn our anger today into steadfast determination to end them all.

We will keep on serving the country as engaged, active citizens, even as we wait for our citizenship to be recognized and valued. We, the members of the Tennessee DREAM Act Committee, will not give up. We are stronger and more united than ever, both in Tennessee and around the nation. We will continue to fight for the dreams of all and we will win.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fabian Bedne declares candidacy for Council seat in District 31

The Argentina-born Nashvillian Fabian Bedne recently announced that he would be running again for Metro Council in District 31, a strip of the southeast part of town that includes sections of Old Hickory Blvd., Nolensville Road, Holt, and Burkitt. The candidate's announcement was covered by In Session, which also provides a little context about the race for that seat.

What caught my eye most from the announcement:

  • "Fabian Bedne, res­i­den­tial designer and small busi­ness owner..." (that's right - he launched his own business Organicus recently, after working for a while at architectural firms)
  • "Bedne named Attor­ney Bob Tuke as his cam­paign trea­surer" (big name - was the Democratic nominee for one of Tennessee's two seats in the U.S. Senate)
  • "This dis­trict has con­tin­ued to develop sus­tain­able growth areas and has become a model on how to eat, work and play right in your own neigh­bor­hood and it’s a place that has been won­der­ful to raise my family.” (reveals Bedne's passion for livable city planning)
  • "Neigh­bors from Brent­wood and Lenox Vil­lage, to Cane Ridge and Anti­och are all sup­port­ing my campaign.” (give you a feel for where the district is)
  • "Bedne and his fam­ily have lived in David­son County for fif­teen years, includ­ing thir­teen years in Dis­trict 31 and he cur­rently oper­ates his own busi­ness here. He was until recently, a Com­mis­sioner with the David­son County Board of Zon­ing Appeals, and cur­rently serves on the advi­sory board of the Nashville Area Habi­tat for Human­ity, on the Board of the Hous­ing Fund, and Com­mu­nity Nashville, and on the David­son County Lead­er­ship Coun­cil of the “Com­mu­ni­ties Putting Pre­ven­tion to Work.” He is also the chair of the Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee of his home subdivision." (updated résumé)

For some deep-dive context on Bedne himself, check out the various stories about him at, such as the following...
...and also check out some of Bedne's guests posts, including these three essays: wishes Bedne the best in his campaign.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hispanics at the top of Music City: six people who led important non-Latino Nashville institutions in the 2000's

L-R (top): Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham
L-R (bottom): Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, Raul Regalado

The six people who appear above have been the Hispanic leaders of non-Latino institutions in Nashville at various times since 2000.  Over the last decade, they have been at the very top of organizations with clout in this city, with four of them heading government bodies and two of them heading non-profits.  Two of them were named "Nashvillian of the Year" by the Nashville Scene.

These leaders are Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham, Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, and Raul Regalado. Their bios are below.

Dr. Pedro E. Garcia was Director of Schools for the Metropolitan Nashville Public School ("MNPS") system from 2001 to 2008, the second-longest  tenure at the top spot in district history.  Garcia oversaw 139 schools serving a student body population of 75,000.  After just one year in the job, the Nashville Scene named him 2002 Nashvillian of the Year for his "revolutionary" approach to the school system.

Garcia was born in Cuba and arrived in the USA in 1962, at the age of 15. He was part of Operation Peter Pan, which brought 14,048 children to freedom from communism. He lived in a Miami camp for refugees until his parents arrived months later. In 1963, they moved to Iowa, where he learned English and graduated from high school. He earned his B.A. degree from Kansas University; his master's degree is from San Diego State University and his doctorate degree from The University of Southern California in 1983.

Garcia is currently Executive in Residence for the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

Greg Gonzales is currently the head of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, having been named Commissioner by Governor Bredesen in 2007.  Governor-Elect Bill Haslam has announced that Gonzales will stay on in that position following Bredesen's departure in January.

As Commissioner, Gonzales serves as Tennessee's chief regulatory officer of all state-chartered depository and licensed nondepository financial institutions. The department supervises approximately 12,000 financial institutions and companies doing business in Tennessee. Prior to being named commissioner, Gonzales served as acting commissioner beginning in December 2005. He previously served as assistant commissioner and general counsel. In his role as assistant commissioner, he was responsible for coordinating the provision of legal advice to the commissioner and the department.

Gonzales was born in Cookeville, Tennessee. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University in 1980 and earned a law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1984.

State Senator Dolores R. Gresham is the Chair the Senate Education Committee and the Co-Chair of the Joint Education Oversight Committee of the Tennessee State Senate.  A Republican, Gresham has represented District 26 since 2008, having also served in the State House of Representatives from Tennessee's 94th District in 2002.

Gresham holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of the Incarnate Word, Masters of Arts from Loyola University New Orleans and a Masters of Science in Administration from The George Washington University. She served in the United States Marine Corps, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Gresham is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants to the U.S., and the first Latina State Senator in Tennessee history.

Giancarlo Guerrero is the Music Director of the Nashville Symphony, a position he accepted as of the 2009-2010 season.  He is the Symphony's eighth Music Director and its first since the opening of its new home, the $123.5 million, 1,844-seat Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Guerrero was previously Music Director of Oregon's Eugene Symphony, a position he held for six seasons.  Guerrero has also guest-conducted many major American orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. He served as Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1999-2004 and made his Minnesota Orchestra subscription debut in March 2000 leading the world premiere of John Corigliano's Phantasmagoria on the Ghosts of Versailles. Mr. Guerrero made his European debut with the Gulbenkian Orchestra and his UK Debut with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Born in Nicaragua and raised in Costa Rica, Mr. Guerrero began his musical training in Costa Rica as a member of the Costa Rica Youth Symphony. He received his bachelor's degree from Baylor University in Texas and his master's degree in conducting from Northwestern University in Illinois. Mr. Guerrero's principal conducting teachers were Michael Haithcock, Stephen Heyde, Victor Yampolsky and Guillermo Scarabino. Prior to his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra, he served as Music Director of the Tachira Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela.

A. Gregory ("Gregg") Ramos was the President of the Nashville Bar Association in 2004, and he was President of Catholic Charities of Tennessee from 2007 to 2008. Ramos is also the other Hispanic Nashvillian of the Year besides Pedro Garcia.  Ramos received that honor from the Nashville Scene in 2008 because he "works tirelessly to make Nashville a better place for people of all races and backgrounds."

Ramos received his B.A. degree from Arizona State University in 1977 and his J.D. degree from Arizona State University College of Law in 1980. Upon graduation from law school in 1980, Mr. Ramos started his legal career as an Assistant Prosecutor in Phoenix, AZ, where he tried over forty (40) jury trials in four (4) years. In 1984, Ramos moved to Nashville, where he ultimately co-founded the law firm North, Pursell, Ramos & Jameson PLC.  Ramos was named among the "Best of the Bar" by the Nashville Business Journal in 2009, and he maintains a general civil litigation practice with an emphasis in the areas of personal injury, employment law and workers’ compensation.

Ramos was born in Arizona. His father was born in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican nationals.

Raul Regalado has served as President and CEO of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority since 2001, and he is past Board Chairman for the Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

As President and CEO of the Airport Authority, Regalado directs the overall planning, development and operation of Nashville International and John C. Tune Airports. Approximately 10 million passengers and over 79,000 tons of cargo pass through those airports annually. The terminal complex includes a 900,000-square-foot passenger terminal with 47 air carrier gates and up to 78 commuter parking positions. The airports contribute $3.74 billion in economic activity and $1.18 billion in wages and more than 39,700 jobs annually to the regional economy. They serve a trade area of 79 counties in Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky, and Northern Alabama.

Regalado received a degree in aviation management from Embry‐Riddle Aeronautical University.  He also has completed graduate level course work with the USDA Graduate School and Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management. He has more than 42 years of experience in aviation, including eight years in the private sector and more than 28 years in the public sector.  Regalado retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve after serving 29 years in various active duty, Reserve, and National Guard senior leadership positions, and where he received numerous awards

Regalado holds an instrument and commercial pilot certificate for single and multi‐engine airplanes, helicopters, floatplanes, and gliders; owns his own airplane, which he flies for business and pleasure; and has logged approximately 3,800 hours of flight time.

Regalado is originally from California.

The information above is quoted verbatim from, excerpted from, or paraphrased from Wikipedia and from the official bios of Pedro Garcia, Pedro Garcia, Greg Gonzales, Dolores Gresham, Giancarlo Guerrero, Gregg Ramos, and Raul Regalado.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

State law track record shows silence and anonymity are important to Tennesseans, even more than immigration

Music City Center construction
The State has called off its investigation of illegal employment at the Music City Center construction site.

This past July, State Rep. Mike Turner (D) filed what appeared to be an unsigned, unsubstantiated report requesting an investigation by the Department of Labor into the immigration status of the workers building our new city's convention center.  Turner referred to anonymous sources who ultimately remained silent, which prevented the State from acting on the report, according to In Session (H/T: TCP).

Only 28 times since Tennessee's 2007 Illegal Alien Employment Act went into effect has someone filed a complaint alleging immigration violations in a workplace, according to Tennessee Report, which also points out that 13 of the 28 complaints had to be dismissed because of allegations made by people who weren't willing to back them up.

That number now goes to 14.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Haslam adds three and a half Latins to extended family

Mark Emkes
Governor-elect Bill Haslam has named Mark Emkes, a Latin-savvy businessman with 3 "Latins" at home, as the new Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

Emkes, who stepped down as CEO and Chairman of Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas earlier this year, was named to the finance commissioner post by the Haslam transition team yesterday. Emkes has extensive experience in Latin America, having lived in Mexico from 1990 to 1997, where he served as president of Bridgestone's subsidiary there, and in Brazil from 1997 to 2000, where he served as president of the subsidiary in that country. Emkes moved to Nashville in 2000 and headed all Latin American operations from here, until he was named CEO in 2002.

Emkes told the AP that his experience of working outside of the U.S. for 21 of the 33 years in his career "just opens your vision completely to the world" and "helps us appreciate other customs, cultures and languages."

Some of Emkes' time abroad was spent in Spain, where he met his wife, Conchi. Emkes told the AP that he lives in a family of Latins:
"My wife is from Spain, our son was born in Brazil and our daughter was born in Mexico," he said. "So that's three Latins against one North American. It's not easy in my house - I'm always outvoted."
I'd say, "Bienvenidos" to the incoming finance commissioner and his household, but the Emkes have been Nashvillians since 2000.  The Haslam press release says that Mark Emkes, wife Conchi, son Jonathan, and daughter Astrid are members of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Brentwood.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This cartoon by Barry Deutsch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fair hearing

Over at Pith in the Wind today, look for my post about whether Tennesseans will get a fair hearing on immigration. It should be posted before too long, if it hasn't already been posted by the time you read this.

Update: Here it is.

Monday, December 6, 2010

R.I.P. Dalia Perez 1995-2010

Dalia Perez
The obituary of Dalia that I wrote for the Nashville Scene is here.

Click here for the most recent update I have on the family.

Another Nashville teenager has lost her life just days away from her birthday. Last year, it was 18-year-old Maria Oza Gonzales. This year, it was 15-year-old Dalia Perez.

Young Dalia died in an early morning house fire last Thursday. She had already saved her 11-year-old sister Samantha and was going back in to rescue others.

Dalia was a student at Overton High School. The Saturday before the fire, she was celebrating her "sweet 15" birthday party, also known as a quinceañera, with friends and family.

Donations are being accepted for family members who lost everything in the fire. Ages and sizes and donation details are in this WSMV report and in this e-mail from Ruben de Pena of Metro Nashville Public Schools Student Services.

WKRN reported that more than 100 people came to a vigil Friday night outside the home. A Facebook page set up to honor Dalia indicates that a funeral will be held today at 4pm and a memorial will be held Tuesday at 1pm at the Sagrado Corazon church.

The morning after the fire, the Tennessean published an above-the-fold, front-page story about the fire and Dalia's tragic death. Reporting were Chris Echegaray and Andy Humbles, with this powerful lede:
Dalia Perez wore a purple gown on Saturday to her quinceañera, the celebration of a girl's 15th birthday in Hispanic culture, marking the transition from childhood to womanhood.

On Thursday, she acted like an adult, racing into an inferno to save her 11-year-old sister from the blaze that consumed their home at 4563 Artelia Drive in Antioch.
Video from WKRN:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Guest blogging at the Nashville Scene

My first post as guest blogger at the Nashville Scene
(Notice on the right-hand side: it quickly became the third-most commented on post)

The Nashville Scene has a blog called Pith in the Wind. I am its newest guest blogger.

Check out my first post: How Alexander, Corker Could Boost Republican Momentum for DREAM Act

Read the post, and let me know what you think. You can comment over there or over here.

This will be an ongoing thing, but I'm still going to be blogging mostly over here. On the days I post over at Pith, I will try to let you know. For those of you on Twitter, you'll get a heads-up @muybna as well.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Practice your Salsa and your Spanish all December long

Spanish-language conversation groups and salsa dance parties are happening all month long, all over town. If you were looking for an excuse to get out of the house...

Wednesday, December 1, 6:45 p.m.
FREE MCTango and MCSalsa Beg./Int. Classes
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
Second Avenue
Nashville TN 37208

Wednesday, December 1, 7:00 p.m.
Latin Dance Classes
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
Hadley Park Community Center
1037 28th Ave N
Nashville TN 37208
(615) 862-8479

Thursday, December 2, 6:30 p.m.
Charlemos Spanish coversation group
Royal Oaks Tower
4505 Harding Road.
Call Elizabeth Braswell at 615-202-0482 if you need help with directions. Your contribution of a bottle of wine or a snack is welcome.

Saturday, December 4, 7:00 p.m.
¡FELIZ NAVIDAD! The Music and Dance of the Romance of the Season
Free and open to the public
Join gallery F. and the Foreign Language Acting Group (F.L.A.G.) for an evening of holiday music and dance celebrating Nashville's Spanish speaking community.
Seating is limited and reservations are required.
Call 615.320.4651 or email
For more info contact Jaz Dorsey at or 615.915.0891
Download PDF flyer here

Tuesday, December 7, 5:30 p.m.
Latin Dance Classes
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
Coleman Park Community Center
384 Thompson Lane
Nashville TN 37211

Friday, December 10, 9:30 p.m.
Funtopia Fiesta at Mad Donna's
Whether you went to stay lingering at the bar watching the sleek dancers or join them for a steamy dance, come and join our friendly group for a fun time. Cover charge is $7. Door opens at 9:30pm with a basic salsa class taught by one of our instructors.
Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, House, Samba and other fun rythms will be played all night by DJ Blanco and DJ Pablo on Friday December 10th at our East Nashville venue.
Mad Donna's
1313 Woodland St.
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 226-1617

Saturday, December 11, 8:00 p.m.
Sentir El Ritmo Dance Company Holiday Social and Dance Party!
¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
Global Education Center
4822 Charlotte Pike
Nashville TN 37209

Tuesday, December 14, 6:00 p.m.
Nashville Spanish Language Meetup Group
Check calendar for location.

Saturday, December 18, 10:00 p.m.
Navidad En Fuego at Lime
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
A classy evening of salsa, cocktails and beautiful people.
Enjoy the best mojitos and margaritas in Nashville, while listening to some of the worlds best salsa music mixed by DJ’s from the salsa capital of the world.
RSVP here (Ages 21+)
1904 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203
615 429-1430

Tuesday, December 28, 6:00 p.m.
Nashville Spanish Language Meetup Group
Check calendar for location.

Friday, December 31, 10:00 p.m.
Año Nuevo En Fuego! (New Years Eve)
by ¡Diablos Que Bailan! (Salsa Nashville)
A classy evening of salsa, cocktails & beautiful people.
Enjoy the best mojitos and margaritas in nashville, while listening to some of the worlds best salsa music mixed by DJ’s from the salsa capital of the world.
RSVP here (Ages 21+)
1904 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203
615 429-1430
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