Russell Contreras

"What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. Go and study it."
Rabbi Hillel

Lorenzo Calbert, 65, Vietnam War vet, outside the Albuquerque VA medical center July, 3, 2012. I interviewed him for this story here: 

"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."
Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, April 11, 1823
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Houston civil rights lawyer John J. Herrera talks about JFK’s historic LULAC visit the day after assassination.

      Refugee orphans seek U.S. homes

Here’s a piece I wrote for The Associated Press in 2010 on refugee unaccompanied minors in Massachusetts seeks a home in the U.S. and the foster parents who opted to help them.

A Mexican American teacher’s letter to his students before going to fight in WWI


On February 22, 1918, south Texas teacher Jose de la Luz Saenz received a notice from President Woodrow Wilson that he was going to fight in France on behalf of the U.S. Army in World War I. He wrote the following letter to his Mexican-American students:


My dear students: This is definitely our last day of school. You will start your vacation once I have gathered the texts that the government has supplied us. Rest, and have fun. I hope you enjoy the long period that follows. You will be free of classes and the required study.

I cannot say the same for me. I do not know what the future holds, but I can assure you that I will witness grand events, a thousand and one yet unknown sights, and I hope to return to tell you everything. Next Monday, at eleven in the morning, I will become part of the militia that will defend our country.

Until now, I have used pencil and pen to wage trying battles for the educational advancement of our people. You will soon hear that I am holding a rifle in the very same trenches of France and upholding our people’s pride for the glory and honor of our flag.

I do not know if you will have to follow me. I hope not. But if you do, I hope that my example helps you to be brave and strong enough to free yourself from everything that is dear on earth — the sweet peace, your homes, and your families.

I am not going on an excursion. I know that the life that awaits me will be difficult., the most demanding that I will have experienced, but I do not think it will be as difficult as Washington’s crossing of the Delaware and his stay at Valley Forge. If it becomes just as difficult, so much the better, it will be a greater honor for our people. Long live Washington! Long live the start spangled banner! Long live our Raza!

— Jose de la Luz Saenz

(Luz would return after the war and was among the WWI veterans who would help found LULAC in 1929.)

WBUR’s “Con Salsa” and Art Lavoe’s “Killer Oldies” help Latino prisoners stay in touch with family, loved ones through music. Boston Globe, March 18, 2007

WARNING: Graphic footage. Albuquerque police use deadly force against a homeless man, 38-year-old James Boyd, in the Sandia Foothills after authorities say he threatened officers, March 12. He later died at a nearby hospital.

LULAC members discuss meeting President Kennedy in Houston the night before assassination