Organize! The Lessons of the Community Service Organization, a new video about the history of the CSO, will premiere nationally on UCTV beginning March 29, 2010.
CSO was a grassroots effort launched in the 1947 that empowered a generation of Mexican Americans, including Edward Roybal, Cruz Reynoso, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Gilbert Padilla and Herman Gallegos.
The documentary grew out of a conference at Asiomlar that brought together aging CSO veterans with younger activists and scholars. It was a most stimulating event. Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso and former National Council of La Raza head Herman Gallegos provided keynote presentations. Fred Ross, Jr., son of CSO’s legendary organizer, participated.
“Organize! The Lessons of the Community Service Organization” shows how poor immigrants were able to move into the mainstream of American society through voter registration drives, lawsuits and legislative campaigns. Now, over 50 years later, the leaders of the movement reflect on the impact.
For those interested in learning more about CSO, see my book, The Search for a Civic Voice: California Latino Politics, which was based on interviews with many early CSO leaders.