January 19, 2001
"A Successful Leader must respect himself and set an example for others.
God help us in our long struggle"
One of our great warriors Bert Corona has finally gone to his final resting place in AZTLAN CALIFAS. He brought to a close his life as only a true warrior of the Chicano movement could `fighting to the last moment to survive'.
Bert was visiting his ancestral homeland in Leon Guanajuato when he suffered an acute gall bladder attack January 6, 2001. He was operated on and had his gall bladder removed. His kidney then began to fail. He suffered another emergency operation, but his weaken body was now in dire straights. He suffered renal failure and serious infections. His heart became weak and his pacemaker was replaced. Sensing that he was dying, he was transported to Los Angeles where he was attended to by his personal physician. He never regained consciousness and died, in the ancient land of our people... Aztlan.
The Corona family lived during Mexico's defining Revolu-cion. His Grandmother served as the physician to President Francisco Madera. His father died in that struggle. In 1936 Bert moved to Los Angeles from Tejas where he entered college but was unable to complete his studies.
The Bert Corona legacy included his participation in the 1942 mysterious "Sleepy Lagoon" murders. He was instrumental in forming the Sleepy Lagoon defense Committee and helped to develop the evidence that proved that the accused Chicanos were innocent.
In 1948, Corona helped organize the Community Service Organization, in Oakland, California to fight for the Civil Rights of Chicano Urban dwellers. Strangely one of its members was Cesar Chavez. In 1951, Corona was involved in forming the National Association of Mexican Americans (NAMA) to mobilize Mexican Americans of the Southwest to fight against the abuses of the Border Patrol.
He fought against the Walter- McCarran Act, which was supported by Joseph McCarthy an ultra -conservative. It fell upon Bert Corona and a host of other Chicanos to fight to defend our people against harassment, imprisonment, and deportation.
One of his greatest achievements came in 1958 when he formed MAPA (Mexican American Political Association) in Phoenix, Arizona. He went throughout the Southwest organizing MAPA groups. Corona quickly moved MAPA into the Democratic Party and helped John Kennedy win the election with his "Viva Kennedy Clubs!" In 1962 he served as co-chair of the "Viva Pat Brown " campaign. Then came the "Viva Johnson" campaigns. Corona was instrumental in moving the growing Chicano community into mainstream political action that would eventually bring them into power and becoming part of mainstream America.
Chicanos, though, will remember him for his formation of CASA (Hermandad General de Trabajadores) to correct labor abuses. CASA formed branches in Los Angeles, San Diego and wereever there were Mexican Americans and Mexican migrants.
He worked for the exploited workers that were abused by the exploitive American system that saw Mexican workers as throwaway workers.
In a move that still draws inspiration from Bert Corona, La Hermandad Mexicana Na-cional was conceived in San Diego by Labor, Chicano groups, and to this day continues to fight for the rights of the exploited workers of America.
Bert was a giant of a man during his life. It will take volumes to write about his contributions to his people, his country, and for the betterment of mankind. He was a Mestizo way beyond his times.
D. L. Muñoz .