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Month of May, 2009

New Made in L.A. Web Video -Go Sweatfree!

Check out our new web video: "Go sweatfree", the second in a series that will highlight the many issues that intersect in Made in L.A. The video links to our newly remodeled Get Involved page, with specific actions you can take towards a sweatfree world and immigration reform!

Made in L.A. to receive the Hillman Prize in Broadcast Journalism

We're thrilled to announce that Made in L.A. will receive the 2009 Hillman Prize in Journalism, in the category of Broadcast. The Hillman Prizes are among the most prestigious awards given to journalists, photographers, writers and public figures whose work fosters social and economic justice.

Here's an extract from their press release:

Since 1950, the Sidney Hillman Foundation has celebrated the legacy and vision of union pioneer and New Deal architect Sidney Hillman. As founder and president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and a founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Hillman is considered one of America's greatest labor leaders. His tireless efforts to bring dignity and respect to working people left a lasting legacy for the American public.

These awards give recognition to journalists and public figures demonstrating a similar sense of social responsibility, investigating and telling the difficult stories that need to be told. In an era when serious journalism is being threatened and newspapers are folding, these writers and photographers seek out stories that change lives. The awards go to practitioners in traditional and new media. Past winners include prominent figures in their field, as well as young journalists or publications that have yet to receive adequate recognition. Murray Kempton was the first recipient in 1950....

This year's distinguished panel of judges consists of Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor, The New Yorker; Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large, The American Prospect and columnist for the Washington Post; Katrina vanden Heuvel, executive editor, The Nation magazine; Susan Meiselas, Magnum photographer and author; and Rose Marie Arce, senior producer, CNN.

"The Hillman Foundation is dedicated to promoting the role that journalism and the world of ideas play in making a difference in the lives of ordinary people. These awards are proof that journalism, at its best and most professional, can change the world," said Bruce Raynor, president of the foundation.

The award ceremony will be held May 27, 2009, 5:30-8:00 PM, at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City.

For more info about the Hillman awards and the winners click here.

DC Screening Brings Together Human Rights, Civil Rights and Faith Leaders at NCLR

We just returned from a beautiful screening of Made in L.A. that was held at NCLR, the National Council of La Raza, in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by NCLR, Amnesty International and Sojourners, it was a rare opportunity to link civil rights work, human rights work, and faith-based organizing. And it was as moving as the best Made in L.A. screenings can be, as both the audience and the panel were able to connect on a deep personal level with the experiences of the women in the film.


Robert and I with NCLR's President and CEO Janet Murguía

We were honored that NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía introduced the event. As she said, "This truly inspiring film beautifully depicts the courage and dignity with which immigrants face the consequences of our broken immigration system. By delving deeply into the struggles of Latina garment workers in Los Angeles, the filmmakers speak volumes to the powerful human stories behind the immigration debate".


The screening was followed by a panel on immigration reform featuring me; Made in L.A.‘s producer Robert Bahar; Adam Taylor, Senior Political Director at Sojourners; Folabi Olagbaju, Director of Amnesty International's Mid Atlantic Office; and Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Director of Immigration at NCLR.

Robert, me, Folabi, Adam and Clarissa during the panel

As Folabi Olagbaju explained, Amnesty International is increasingly looking at immigration issues through its human rights framework, and recently launched a report entitled "Jailed Without Justice" which explores problems that exist throughout the U.S. immigrant detention system. In connecting AI's work to the film screening, Folabi said, "It is critical to raise awareness about the plight and courage of millions of undocumented immigrants in our workforce, many of whom are discriminated against and unable to affirm their basic human rights. The story captured in Made in L.A. makes a poignant and compelling case for more just and humane immigration policies in the US."

Adam Taylor talked about the amazing work that Sojourners and other faith communities are doing towards immigration reform. He also cited scripture and outlined some of the fundamental Christian principles that relate to immigration, including the deep-rooted idea of "welcoming the stranger". In addition to his work at Sojourners, Taylor is an Associate Minister at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington D.C., and he emphasized, "In order to transform hearts and minds we must highlight the personal and moral consequences of our broken immigration system in America. This film helps remind us of the human face and real stories of our immigrant brothers and sisters and the urgent need to unite organizations, churches and leaders from across the theological and political spectrum to bring about comprehensive immigration reform."

Clarissa Martinez de Castro spoke with passion about NCLR's long history and leadership around issues of Latino civil rights, and about the need for immigration reform. Audience members shed more than a few tears as she explained her personal connection to the issues, bringing the stories from the film off the screen and into the hearts of all those present... And as Folabi pointed out, the issues of immigration reform and immigrants' rights are not issues of race or background. Rather, they are core issues of basic human dignity.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the panelists, to the sponsoring organizations, and to everyone who was involved in making this happen. We want to extend a special thank you to NCLR's Patricia Foxen, whom I had met at a conference in Chicago, and who spearheaded this event with the conviction that it could be something very special. We're grateful to all of the collaborators and humbly feel that it achieved that vision!

Parents, High School and College students come together at Scripps Screening

I just received very beautiful comments from several students who helped plan a recent event at the Scripps College, which I attended with Maria Pineda (one of the stars of the film). The screening was organized by Bright Prospect, an amazing organization working with high school kids to get them to college, and the Community Tutoring Program, where Scripps students tutor Bright Prospect students. Tim Sandoval, Director of College Counseling at Bright Prospect, also serves on the Board of the Diane Middleton Foundation, which has generously supported both the production and the outreach work around Made in L.A.

The room, which was packed with parents, teachers and students of all ages, was full of energy and, when I introduced Maria, everyone rose to their feet and gave her a standing ovation as she approached the stage. On the drive home, Maria confided "I truly felt like a star...!" The Q&A was emotional and powerful, with parents and their children sharing their thoughts about each other and the journey towards accomplishing their dreams. Afterwards, with our hands full of presents and flowers, the Bright Prospect students asked us to sign the very T-shirts they were wearing! Here are some of the comments they just sent me:

"The experience of watching the movie with my parents changed my relationship with them. It got me even closer to them and it helped me appreciate them more for all their efforts and sacrifices." -Ana Soto

"Made in LA was very emotional. Watching the film meant a lot because after watching it, my life changed in certain ways. The film reminded me of the many family members I have that are immigrants. It changed my point of view by helping me decide to be more determined and focused on my education and most of all to work hard and to be the best I can be in this beautiful life that was given to us." -Christopher Elguea

"...It proves that minorities should never be underestimated and that united, we can conquer! I came to appreciate my parents' efforts to a greater extent. It was an enlightening experience." -Elizabeth Zamudio

"Made in LA was an awesome documentary. It was inspiring because it shows the importance of humbleness and hard work in order to achieve a dream." -Juana Rodriguez

Lara Colvin, Program Coordinator for the Community Tutoring Program, shared her thoughts as well: "It was so incredible to see the turnout of people... I felt the unity that formed that night in the room, a deep sense of appreciation for the struggles people go through and recognition of the injustice of the conditions of immigrants and women and the working class... The Q&A and people's comments were really revealing and powerful. Is it always like that? Amazing." Don't miss these other thoughts from a Scripps College student blog.

Since then, the Women's Union and Centro Latino Student Affairs have shown the film again on campus and it continues to reach new audiences. And we've heard that some of the Bright Prospect students and parents are organizing to show it to community members... "It really does create a snowball effect," exclaimed Lara.

This event was sponsored by: Community Tutoring Program, Bright Prospect, Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment, Motley Coffeehouse, Scripps Investment Fund, Center for California Cultural and Social Issues at Pitzer, Scripps Department of History, Scripps Department of American Studies, CMC Modern Languages Department, Chicano/Latino Student Affairs Center, Asian American Student Union, Scripps Associated Students.

San Jose City College celebrates Made in L.A.


Last March, Dee Dee Kost called me from San Jose City College "We just had the most a amazing Made in L.A. screening and panel!" Apparently, the moderator, Bayinaah Jones, had created T-shirts with quotes from the film, and had also put quotes on banners throughout the entire auditorium! You can see a little of their event in the short video on the right:





With Chancellor Rosa Perez, wearing her T-shirt with a quote from Made in L.A.

"It'd be awesome if you could come next time!", she said. And so next time came, and I attended what I though would be a traditional screening of the film, organized in collaboration with the Chancellors Office, multiple departments and the Reel Work Film Festival. When I arrived, people were again wearing T-shirts with quotes extracted from Made in LA ("When people start to organize they stop being victims" or " I armed myself with courage") and students had created the most beautiful poster and panels inspired by Made in LA. to showcase their school papers. Word had gotten out, and I was bombarded by an army of photographers, posing for pictures with President Michael Burke, Chancellor Rosa Perez, and all the teachers who had brought their classes to the screening including History, Ethnic Studies, Labor Studies, ESL, Psychology and Math. (I remember thinking, "this must be one of the best math classes they'll ever have!")

As part of the opening remarks, in front of an auditorium packed with more than 300 people, the Latina Leadership Network, presented me (and Robert, in absentia) a beautiful Certificate of Appreciation, and the Chancellor, wearing a Made in LA T-shirt herself, presented a plaque that reads "for bringing the film Made in LA to San Jose City College and sharing the story of strength, triumph and courage". I was moved, very moved by all of this care, passion and recognition...

Our deep gratitude to all the sponsors, organizers and teachers who made this possible, and to Dee Dee Kost for single-handedly spearheading this event!

Detail from one of the panels they created -isn't it really beautiful?

 

With some of the teachers, sponsors and organizers of the event
This event was sponsored by: Labor Studies, San Jose City College, Office of the Chancellor -San Jose Evergreen Community College District, Office of the President - San Jose City College, Latina Leadership Network, San Jose Chapter, 9 to 5, Bay Area Chapter San Jose/Evergreen Faculty Association, AFT 6157.



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