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Marshall W. Johnson / Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Seventy five years ago this month, the streets of Los Angeles turned violent in an event that came to be known as the Zoot Suit Riots. The cause is still unclear, but we know this: for 10 days in 1943, white service members attacked young Latino men on the streets of Southern California, while police turned the other way. The attacks are the subject of a new young adult novel by acclaimed children’s author Margarita Engle. In 2009, the Clovis author’s book "The Surrender Tree" won the prestigious Newberry Medal, the first book by a Latina to receive the honor.

Kern County

Kern County Supervisors have adopted new district lines following a legal settlement with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The group sued the county alleging the 2011 supervisorial redistricting disenfranchised Latino voters by drawing lines that divided communities like Arvin and Delano, diluting their political power. In February MALDEF won the suit in U.S. District Court, setting up settlement talks to draw new district lines and new procedures for upcoming elections.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In February a U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of a Latino civil rights group in a suit challenging the way the county drew supervisorial district lines in 2011. In the suit, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund argued that by splitting eastern Kern County cities between two districts, the county unfairly also broke up Latino communities in the San Joaquin Valley, instead of allowing for a second Latino-majority district, in addition to the current District 5.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Latino civil rights group in a lawsuit against Kern County over voting rights. The ruling found county supervisorial districts that were created in 2011 violated the Voting Rights Act because they intentionally divided Latino communities between two districts.

Brittany Greeson/GroundTruth

Critics across the globe are starting to pay attention to the music of one young valley artist – Omar Nare. The Sanger native was recently profiled on Public Radio International and the New York Times for his fresh take on mariachi traditions. He’s taking traditional songs and re-inventing them with hints of jazz, soul and funk.

Trump Fuels Citizenship Drive Among Immigrants

Mar 30, 2016
Jean Guerrero / KPBS

It’s been almost half a century since Concepción Álvarez, a 75-year-old Mexican immigrant who lives in northern San Diego county, became eligible for U.S. citizenship.

But it wasn’t until this year that she decided to undergo the naturalization process. The reason? She points to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

“I think we are all waking up, because we’ve never heard things so ugly as what that man says,” Álvarez said.

Kerry Klein / KQED

When we last visited the Central Valley farm town of Lindsay, Amy Huerta and her brother, Luis, were in the middle of a pretty intense dinnertime conversation about voting.

“I mean, these are things that matter,” says Luis, who can’t vote because he’s undocumented. Amy is 18, and she could be the first in her family to vote, so he’s putting a lot of pressure on her.

Kerry Klein / KQED

The soundtrack of Luis Medellin’s childhood was the sound of the orange and lemon harves

Early mornings, he’d hear the clink of farmworkers setting up tall ladders in the orchards to pick the fruit. On cold nights, giant wind machines would whirr to life, as farmers scrambled to warm up the trees. All day long, trucks would rumble past his house, hauling loads of fresh fruit to one of the nearby packinghouses.

  Medellin grew up in Lindsay, a largely Latino town in Tulare County, in the heart of the state’s citrus belt.

Group Works To Develop Latino Leaders In High School

Jul 23, 2015
Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project - Youtube

Latinos make up the largest segment of California’s population. Yet they have one of the smallest voter representations. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, one organization is trying to change that equation.

A group of Latino high school students stands on the steps of the state Capitol and yells out its identity.

“California’s future leaders! Who are you? California’s future leaders!”

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

There are only a few towns in Central California with their own opera companies and even fewer creating new art forms. In Visalia, a director has brought mariachi and opera together to form an original mariachi opera called “El Bracero.” In this story FM89’s Ezra David Romero meets the opera’s creator and discovers a new art form that weaves together elements of love and struggle.

Mariachi is very important to the Latino community. The Mexican folk music is played at quinceaneras, weddings and celebrations of all sorts. But rarely is it heard in the world of opera, until now.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The United States is dominated by box office hits played at megaplexes with sometimes as many as 21 plus screens, but no more than a few decades ago film venues looked very different especially for the Latino community. But today in Fresno, one young woman has taken on the task to reopen the region’s only Spanish language theater.

Thirty years ago, the main hall of Teatro Azteca in Fresno’s Chinatown was filled with the sounds of famous Spanish language actors, singers and comedians.

Think Cantinflas, the Mexican Charlie Chaplin. 

Charismatic,  controversial, courageous and complicated. Those are just a few words that could sum up the life of the late civil rights leader and farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. Now over 20 years after his death, a new biography seeks to provide fresh insight into a man who is an inspiration for millions. The book is called “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” by Miriam Pawel, who joined us on Valley Edition to talk about Chavez the man and Chavez the myth. 

Cesar Chavez Foundation

In October 1993, the Fresno City Council voted to rename three city streets - Kings Canyon, Ventura and California - in honor of the late farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. The move was part of a campaign by local Latino groups who sought to honor the UFW founder, who had died earlier that year. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

With just 10 days left before the Covered California enrollment deadline, farm labor activist Dolores Huerta took her message to students at Fresno State today. As FM89's Joe Moore reports, it's part of a last minute push to boost enrollment figures among Latinos and young people. 

Speaking to a class of students at Fresno State today, UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta invoked memories of the civil rights movement to help spur young Latinos to sign up for health insurance.

Lionsgate / Pantelion Films

Later this month, the story of the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez hits the silver screen with a biopic by acclaimed director Diego Luna. It’s the first time a major motion picture has been made about the life of the founder of the United Farm Workers Union. It features a cast of Hollywood stars including America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich, with Michael Pena cast as the late civil rights hero. Tomorrow night President Obama will host a screening of the movie at the White House.

Fresno County's efforts at integrating new immigrants into the overall population fall short when compared with the rest of the state.

That's the finding of a new report by the University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. 

The study measures a variety of indicators including the economic impact of immigrants in the local economy, educational performance, the warmth of welcome by the community at large, and civic engagement.