On March 25th, 2006, the largest 'ever' public protest in the history of the United States occurred in the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
With an estimated crowd assembly of over 1.5 million demonstrators, what is commonly known as "La Gran Marcha" (translated in English to "The Great March") in one day took the U.S. Latino American community from quite often being referred to as the "Sleeping Giant", to a position of internal self-awareness and outward public recognition that up until this moment in U.S. history had not been realized before.
As of this writing, it has been exactly nine years to the day since the passing of this historic event. Next year will be the tenth year anniversary of La Gran Marcha. Yet, surprisingly, most people have still never heard of it. The first obvious question to this wonder is: Why? Why not? Why is this so-called "largest march" or "largest mass public demonstration" of all U.S. history so utterly unknown?
The significance of this question can not be overemphasized. Anyone can speculate. And, in the course of questioning this issue for the past nine years, many have. But, the salient point always remains. The fact of the matter is that this largest assembly of people ever seen in the history of the United States was nearly virtually ignored in terms of its massive size and importance by all of the major U.S. mainstream English speaking news media. It is the reason that if one does a search on the Internet for this event, you'll not find very much more than what is being offered here. To date, this media outfit which has made a concerted effort to gather all of the U.S. national news reportage on this event has compiled only 14 minutes and 40 seconds in total. This from the sources that include a survey of all of the major news networks, including both cable and public broadcasting.
The English language newspapers and periodicals didn't fare much better. Even the mighty Los Angeles Times of which this event occurred on their front door, pulled their article reporting on this event from showing on the Internet. Apparently this was done out of an embarrassment for how little in-depth coverage was given to the significance of this incredibly important day. Now, how could this all be?
It is the opinion of this publication that there is a divide in this country. More than what is commonly heard between that of the white and black communities, or merely that of the rich and the existence of the strugling, or the destitute poor. There is a divide between those who are accepting of the reality of what America already is today, and those who are yearning for the days of yesteryear. Let me be even more specific. There is a problem amongst many of those who are still in control of the existing power structures in this country. Namely, there is a problem in white America. Simply put, white people are afraid. Many are afraid of what they are seeing. Many are afraid of the swelling numbers being seen from the U.S. Latino community and our demands for adequate representation. Thus, as a concomitant result, they are not wanting to acknowledge the obvious, the inevitable. That, America will continue to change. It will continue to tan brown.
So then, what is to be done? While, this may be the subject of fodder between politic pundits and social scientists for many of these upcoming years. It it is again another simple opinion of this author that there is a real solution quickly looming near. As we in human society continue to grow in our understanding of the best in our human nature and dare I say our 'spiritual evolution' (however one may define this - it makes no difference), we'll continue to develop an upwardly progressing maturity on the importance of our apprecition for human diversity.
As we continue to discuss the merits of integration in all aspects of society, as we continue to push the realities of intemingling in the workspace, really getting to know one another in the aisles of our fellowships, of even intermarrying, and seeing the products of our developing loves, we will finally as a society begin to relax. We will begin to calm. Have not many of us already seen in our own lives what happens with the development of true love between persons who might normally be perceived as being different in society? If one hasn't, I will let you know a big little societal secret. The results are usually quite good. Familiarity breeds content. We do come to see that we really aren't so different. It is one of the reasons that it was decide this publication should be published in English only. Has anyone noticed? We are speaking to you in English. Has anyone noticed? We are the children of this great nation. We truly do believe in the eternity of its most noble ideals. And thus, so should we all.
As one of the many organizers and a witness to this monumental event, I can assure you. This was no little matter. Like most things of tremendous significance, magnitude, and success, there are a great many people whose contributions were significant but unfortunately often fall short in being recognized. It starts from the very bottom and continues all the way to the top. It doesn't matter if one spent time making a poster or a banner, put in hours in the rooms with other community organizers, was a hardcore activist, union leader, radio personality, part of a nonprofit organization, a religious institution, an online blogger, webmaster, smartphone user, or simply showed up. All of these parties mattered equally in importance. So too, because there were a great many organizations and social entities involved, given the extreme limitations of space available here, I'll refrain from naming even one. Be assured, however, more disclosure is coming soon.
What matters most when contemplating the importance of La Gran Marcha is the significance of what it immediately accomplished and the latent or direct effects of what has occured in subsequent years as a result. So what was the primary purpose of La Gran Marcha?
La Gran Marcha was a reaction to HR 4437, a bill introduced in the House of Representative of the 109th Congress, also known as the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Act of 2005". Authored by Republicans, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Peter King of New York, it passed the United States House of Representatives on December 16, 2005 by a vote of 239 to 182 (with 92% of Republicans supporting it and 82% of the Democrats opposing). HR 4437 was then on its way to being voted on by the Republican controlled Senate which had then been giving signs of following a path similar to that of the House. Although often perceived as very sympathetic to immigrants, President George Bush Jr., a Republican, was being pressured by his party to not veto the bill if on his desk.
The primary points of contention for the marchers and all of us who fought to defeat HR 4437 were these. If HR 4437 were to have become law it would have within days of passage: 1) immediately turned an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants from being misdemeanor offense violators into a categorization of hard criminal felony offenders; 2) charged "any" person who knowingly aides an undocumented person to remain in the U.S. without their proper documentation already approved and in good standing order, to be guilty of criminal “smuggling” -- this would have included those of the clergy, nonprofit sectors, and even the medical professions; 3) required local law enforcement to act as federal immigration agents; 4) required the construction of a complete southern border barrier in the form of a wall and/or fence with Mexico, while leaving the northern border with Canada to remain virtually open; 5) required the creation of a new employment verification system with "a unified database to be maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and comprised of data from the Social Security Administration" -- this also necessitated that every inhabitant of this country who would be seeking legal employment be required to carry a new type of social security card "made of a durable plastic" that "include an encrypted machine-readable electronic identification strip" or chip that "be issued to each individual (whether or not a U.S. citizen)." In addition to these five main commonly mentioned statutes, there were also some other extreme provisions less commonly known that even Nazi Germany of the 1940s did not enact. Sound extreme? Hear this. Homeland Security was being given the authority to act solely "without judicial review."
One of the the most remarkable things of La Gran Marcha is not only was it the largest U.S. demonstration. It was thereby also the most peaceful. The L.A.P.D. didn't report on even one arrest. This day should literally be included in the curriculum of every U.S. history classroom. For now, lets just see how many in the mainstream U.S. news media will care to report on the information seen in this page.