News and views from the award-winning author of the Class H Trilogy: AMERICA LIBRE, HOUSE DIVIDED and PANCHO LAND

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alabama is once again the site of "outside agitators"

Photo - Dave Martin AP
"Outside agitators." That's what the KKK and their ilk called those who came from other states to  protest legalized racial segregation in Alabama during the early 1960s. The protesters, who were mostly young and educated, arrived determined to overturn the Jim Crow laws that institutionalized second class status for their fellow African Americans.

Fast forward 50 years and history is in re-runs.

Yesterday over 100 demonstrators, many of them Latino college students from outside Alabama, staged a protest at the state capitol. The group came to protest HB-56, a recently-enacted Alabama anti-illegal immigration law which is now considered the nation's harshest.

“We had to come here," said Sonia Guinansaca, a Hunter College student from Harlem who is also an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador. "As the saying goes, injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,”  Guinansaca told the New York Daily News.

The rising tide of protest has done little to deter lawmakers in other states from proposing similar legislation. Indeed, it seems many politicos see fear and loathing of the undocumented as a rich vein for votes.

Will these punitive laws provoke more protests by young, educated Latinos? That seems very likely. And when one in four children under ten in the U.S. today is a Latino, we may be seeing the tip of a generational iceberg of discontent.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez