PBS to Air Special on Late Hispanic Leader Willie Velasquez in October

Willie Velasquez’s memory will live on as part of a PBS special…

The public broadcaster has announced plans to air Willie Velasquez: Empowering the People in October.

Willie Velasquez

The program centers on the late leader of the movement to increase political power among Hispanic Americans. He passed away of cancer in June 1998. He was 44.

With his rallying cry of “Su Voto es su Voz,” Velasquez started a grassroots movement that would change the nation’s political landscape and pave the way for the growing power of the Latino vote

Velasquez, a native of San Antonio, was a leader of La Raza Unida, a Hispanic-American political party that was active in the Southwest in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. In 1968 he led a farmworkers’ strike, along with Cesar Chavez, in south Texas. In 1981, he taught a course on Southwestern politics at Harvard University.

In 1974, Velasquez founded the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, the nation’s largest voter registration project aimed at the Hispanic community.

Under his guidance, a spokesman said, the project conducted voter registration drives in 200 cities and Indian reservations and conducted extensive polling.

”What we’re most proud of is that from 1974 when we started to 1987, the number of Hispanic elected officials in the U.S. grew from 1,566 to 3,038, an increase of 82 percent,” the spokesman said.

PBS will air Willie Velasquez: Empowering the People on October 3 from 10:30-11:30 pm ET.

Docu-Feature Film “Ruben Blades Is Not My Name” Currently in Production

Here’s your chance to learn about the man behind the living legend that is Ruben Blades

The 67-year-old Panamanian singer will be the focus of a docu-feature from Abner Benaim’s Apertura Films and Gema Juarez Allen’s Gema Films.

Ruben Blades

Entitled Ruben Blades Is Not My Name, the film about the Grammy– and Latin Grammy-winning salsa singer/composer is currently shooting in New York, will then segue to Panama and other Latin American countries.

Benaim, who helmed Panama’s 2014 Oscar entry Invasion, is directing.

Ruben Blades Is Not My Name turns on a multi-faceted figure who wrote and performed what was then the best-selling salsa album in history, 1978’s Siembra, was educated at Harvard University, was and is a political activist, and made a run for Panamanian president in 1994, obtaining 20% of the votes. He has enjoyed a second career as an actor, is currently playing Daniel Salazar in Fear the Waking Dead.

“The arc of the story is still playing itself out, but it will definitely be related to the history of Latin America in the past 50 years, of which Ruben has been a witness and an active part of,” said Benaim.

“We will concentrate on his music and particularly his lyrics and their effect on those who’ve listened to them, danced to them, thought about them, and were somehow shaped by them.”

“By way of its format, Ruben Blades Is Not My Name will include interviews with Ruben, other musicians and artists, friends and family and will use lots of incredible archive footage from concerts, daily life, politics, films and more,” Benaim added, saying that the docu-feature will also shoot Blades offstage as a man, “as someone who lives a private life also.”

Ruben Blades Is Not My Name is “a film full of rhythm, music and good stories -with the most remarkable characters. Ruben is a wonderful storyteller, so it will be a very entertaining and moving piece that will travel wherever there are fans of Ruben and beyond,” added Juarez Allen.

Panamanian TV station TVN is backing the docu-feature. Producers are in talks with co-producers from the U.S. and Latin America and sales agents for worldwide rights, per Benaim.

Obama Nominates Perez for U.S. Secretary of Labor Position

Tom Perez could play a pivotal role in the President Barack Obama efforts to raise the minimum wage and reform the country’s immigration laws.

The 51-year-old Dominican-American politician, consumer advocate and civil right lawyer has been nominated by Obama to be the United States Secretary of Labor, replacing outgoing secretary Hilda Solis.

Tom Perez

Perez, who has been serving as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice since October 2009, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is the only Latino nominated to Obama’s second-term Cabinet so far.

Perez, who received a B.A. in international relations and political science from Brown University and a J.D. cum laude from Harvard University, is expected to face opposition from some Republican senators, who say he has been too aggressive on certain immigration issues, and too political.

Perez has strong labor support and served as labor secretary for Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, from 2007 until 2009, when he was picked for his current Justice Department position. Perez also served on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland and was the first Latino elected to the council. He has been the key official under Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. handling civil rights cases.