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Early Hispanic contributions to state government

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Title:
Early Hispanic contributions to state government
Series Title:
This week in history
Creator:
Castro, Richard T.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Richard T. Castron
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
This Week In History
Early Hispanic Contributions To State Government
by
Richard Castro
This past week Pete Reyes and Mike Galvez, both prominent local attorneys, along with myself and other supporters of boxing, went before a state legislative committee to try and revive the State Boxing Commission. The legislature abolished this commission 10 years ago because of irregularities and charges of racism against commissioners. This move by the legislature, of which I was a part, has proved to be a mistake.
As I testified before the committee of six members, I was pleased to look up and see State Senator Bob Martinez, a supporter of the bill. I was reminded of my own 10 years in the State Legislature when I was a minority on various committees.
After testifying, I though; of the many other Hispanics who have served in this powerful body of State Government. Individuals long gone who contributed to the early political foundation of this State.
I thought of State Senator Casimiro Barela. He served in the territorial or state legislature, apparently without interruption, from 1861 to 1916. He was instrumental in the decision to publish all laws and business of the state in English, German and Spanish. In the 1890's, Barela was elected president pro-term of the State Senate and became Interim Governor of the State for a brief period during the absence of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. He is one of 13 leading Colorado citizens of the state to be honored by having his picture installed among 12 other stained glass


2
windows at the State Capitol as a tribute to his contributions.
Charles Vigil, in a book entitled "The Hispanic Contributions to the State of Colorado," notes that "Aside from the personal participation of Senator Casimiro Barela, it is essential to point out that his many years as an active political figure were accompanied by a continuing attrition in the numbers of Spanish-surnamed state legislators."
A little known fact is that the Legislative Assembly of January 3, 1876, there were 12 Hispanic legislators in addition to Casimiro Barela: Manuel Lucero; Clemente Trujillo; Felipe Baca; Lorenzo A. Abeyta; Mariano Larragiote; John Manzanares; Pedro Raphael Trujillo; Jose A. Velasquez; Donaciano Curule; Nicanora D. Jaramillo; Maurico Apodaca; and Preenciseo Sanchez; all represented contituencies in the Southern counties. By 1915, this number had been reduced to three, including Barela. By 1921, the only Spanish-surnamed representative was Andres Lucero of Las Animas County. Much of this decline can be attributed to gerrymandering.
This trend, according to Charles Vigil, was temporarily stemmed in the mid-1920's. In the 1920-25 period, the Klu Klux Klan was the dominant force in Colorado politics, causing a shift in the balance of political power in favor of the Republican party, and persuading most of the candidates for public office to follow the middle of the road rather than risk defeat in fighting the K.K.K., There were a few brave souls in the political ranks. Among them was Frank Medina, who had served long and faithfully as the mainstay of the Democratic machine in the City and County of Denver and had been the Federal Liquor Commissioner for the district including Colorado


3
in the period when prohibition was first installed. Medina served later as Chief Clerk in the House of Representatives. He fought the Klan with everything he had.
In 1925, Jose Eliseo Martinez, an immensely popular democrat called Joe, emerged as the new champion of Hispanics. Undoubtedly, he was the most able and vocal of all Hispanics who had served the State. His grandfather had been in the first legislative session and had bridged the
gap among early participants in the endless struggle for justice. Although
Joe was in the minority, he was so highly regarded that when he was one
of the sponsors of the first state junior colleges in Colorado - as he said, "so that the Americans of Spanish surnames can be educated" - he was able to secure the support of many Republicans. The colleges were established, one in Trinidad, and as he foresaw, countless young Hispanic Americans have marched through the halls of the Trinidad State Junior College.
Later he initiated the bill establishing the first boxing commission in
Colorado, a sport of which he had been a part since his days at the University of Colorado, where he proudly wore the silver boxing trunks of the school he loved. Pedro Quintana, a junior lightweight champion from Regis College at this time, who was born in the San Luis Valley, was strongly in favor of this bill. When it was signed, he appeared with Governor Bill Adams and Joe Martinez to receive the pen from the Governor used to sign the bill.
I think Rep. Joe Martinez would be proud of Senator Bob Martinez today, 63 years later when he said in legislative committee, "If we can have


4
commissions to protect dogs and horses in our state, then I don't see why we shouldn't have a commission to protect human beings."
It seems the spirit of those early Hispanic legislators is still alive and well in the halls of the State Capitol in 1988. Let's support the Hispanic legislators of today as they fight against the odds for justice and equality.




Full Text

PAGE 2

This Week In History Early Hispanic Contributions To State Government by Richard Castro This past week Pete Reyes and Mike Galvez, both prominent local attorneys, along with myself and other supporters of boxing, went before a state legislative committee to try and revive the State Boxing Commission. The legislature abolished this commission 10 years ago because of irregularities and charges of racism against commissioners. This move by the legislature, of which I was a part, has proved to be a mistake. As I testified before the committee of six members, I was pleased to look up and see State Senator Bob Martinez, a supporter of the bill. I was reminded of my own 10 years in the State Legislature when I was a minority on various committees. Afler of the mc..ny other HiSiJdnics who have served in this powerful body of State Government. Individuals long gone who contributed to the early political foundation of this State. thought of State Senator Casimiro Barela. He served in the territorial or state legislature, apparently without interruption, from 1861 to 1916. He was instrumental in the decision to publish all laws and business of the state in English, German and Spanish. In the 1890's, Barela was elected president pro-term of 'the State Senate and became Interim Governor of the State for a br-ief period during the absence of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. He is one of 13 leading Colorado citizens of the state to be honored by having his picture installed among 12 other stained glass

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2 windows at the State Capitol as a tribute to his contributions. Charles Vigil, in a book entitled "The Hispanic Contributions to the State of Coloraqo," notes that "Aside from the personal participation of Senator Casimiro Barela, it is essential to point out that his many years as an active political figure were accompanied by a continuing attrition in the numbers of Spanish-surnamed state legislators." A little known fact is that the Legislative Assembly of January 3, 1876, there were 12 Hispanic legislators in addition to Casimiro Barela: Manuel Lucero; Clemente Trujillo; Felipe Baca; Lorenzo A. Abeyta; Mariano Larragiote_ ; John Manzanares; Pedro Raphael Trujillo; Jose A. Velasquez; Donaciano Gurule; Nicanora D. Jaramillo; Maurico Apodaca; and Preenciseo Sanchez; all represented contituencies in the Southern counties. By 1915, this number had been reduced to three, including Barela. By 1921, the only Spanish-surnamed representative was Andres Lucero of Las Animas County. Much of this decline can be attributed to gerrymandering. This trend, the mid-1920's. according to Vigil, was temporarily stemmed in In the 1920-25 period, the Klu Klux Klan was the dominant force in Colorado politics, causing a shift in the balance of political power in favor of the Republican party, and persuading most of the candidates for public office to follow the middle of the road rather than r isk defeat in fighting the K. K. K . , There were a few brave souls in the political ranks. Among them was Frank Medlna, who had served long and faithfully as the mainstay of the Democratic machine in the City and County of Denver and had been the Federal Liquor Commissioner for the district including Colorado

PAGE 4

3 in the period when prohibition was first installed. Medina served later as Chief Clerk in the House of Representatives. He fought the Klan with everything he had. In 1925, Jose Eliseo Martinez, an immensely popular democrat called Joe, emerged as the new champion of Hispanics. Undoubtedly, he was the most able and vocal of all Hispanics who had served the State. His grandfather had been in the first legislative session and had bridged the gap among early participants in the endless struggle for justice. Although Joe was in the minority, he was so highly regarded that when he was one of the sponsors of the first state junior colleges in Colorado -as he said, 11so that the Americans of Spanish surnames can be educated11 -he was able to secure the support of many Republicans. The colleges were established, one in Trinidad, and as he foresaw, countless young Hispanic Americans have marched through the halls of the Trinidad State Junior College. Later he initiated the bill establishing the first boxing commission in Colorado, a sport of which he had been a part since his days at the University of Colorado, where he proudly wore the silver boxing trunks of the school he loved. Pedro Quintana, a junior lightweight champion from Regis College at this time, who was born in the San Luis Valley, was strongly in favor of this bill. When it was signed, he appeared with Governor Bill Adams and Joe Martinez to receive the pen from the Governor used to sign the bill. think Rep. Joe Martinez would be proud of Senator Bob Martinez today, 63 years later when he said in legislative committee, 111f we can have

PAGE 5

4 commissions to protect dogs and horses in our state, then I don't see why we shouldn't have a commission to protect human beings. 11 It seems the spirit of those early Hispanic legislators is still alive and well in the halls of the State Capitol in 1988. Let' s support the Hispanic legislators of today as they fight against the odds for justice and equality.