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Community Celebrates Memories of Walter Guzman

At a memorial today, friends and family shared memories, poetry and song, celebrating the generous spirit of Albert Walter Guzman, the patron of many community programs for supporting positive lifestyles in an era of increasing urban decay.

The program began with prayer, from a viewpoint of the Mayan tradition, invoking

heart of the sky
heart of the earth...
The forces of creation in the Mayan cosmos.

Then several of Walter's friends stepped forward with stories of how he intervened in their lives.

He was carrying a message, a message of freedom.

Ernie Martinez

Walter had found his way into the world of substance abuse, and when he found his way out, he worked to share his path to freedom. He shared it widely with his brothers and sisters.

Tomas Alejo, currently a UCSC student, spoke lovingly of Guzman. They had met at Si Se Puede, a recovery program co-founded by Guzman. Si Se Peude, "Yes We Can", is often chanted at rallies and demonstrations, with the same profoundly positive effect as "We Shall Overcome": in the farmworker movement, for example.

Alejo's grandfather was a farmworker who came to the US as part of the bracero program in the 40s, when migrant workers were brought in to fill jobs absented by draftees in World War II.

"some in Congress want to...
bring back the braceros, the name given to the nearly 5 million Mexican workers imported into the United States from 1942 to 1964. It was only after television journalist Edward R. Murrow revealed the degree to which the braceros were exploited that Congress pulled the government out of the labor procurement business."

background story

Tomas' shared his limpse of history with a poem:


I remember you abuelito as if it were yesterday
Gray hair, wide grin, and hick-rimmed glasses
Evenings you would sit on your easy chair
As sounds of ancient corridos
Echoed from your eight-track player

I would sit by your side wide eyed
Fascinated by your tales of adventure
Of struggle and of younger days
You migrated to this part of our land
To toil in fileds of vegetables and fruit
In order to provide your children an education
And although you were not educated
Great wisdom radiated from you

I recall marching by your side
With a fiery red and black eagle clenched in fist
From Delano to Sacramento
In support of the United Farm Workers
You believed in truth and justice for the people
Shouts of "SI se puede, Viva La Causa"
Still reverberate throughout my mind and soul
That is why I proclaim proudly que soy
Chicano, Mexicano, Revolucionario

It's been several years now abuelito
That you joined Creator and the
Freedom fighters in the sky
Yet your legacy and spirit
Will forever burn in my corazon
Que viva el movimiento
Que viva mi abuelito

Tomas Alejo
La Revista
Spring 2004, Issue No. 6

Here is a young poet who can speak from experience, and does so with simple precision. I imagine Walter would have enjoyed hearing his words.

Among the many who stepped forward to eulogize was a fellow who introduced himself as O.T. -

"When I look into my children's eyes - in the love that I see - there is Walter - present in the love that we share. Before we leave here today, we must acknowledge the love that is within us all."

David Roknich



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Re: Community Celebrates Memories of Walter Guzman

Thank you Tomas.


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