Saturday, May 12, 2007

Women honored in Mission concert

Last night, in the "gap" days between Mother's Day in Mexico and Central America (it is fixed on May 10) and the U.S. celebration (second Sunday in May), Trabajo Cultural Caminante presented a concert, "Premio Mujer," at the Brava Theater on 24th Street in San Francisco's Mission District.

On this evening, the Brava Theater, usually an island of the hip and groovy amid the grit, was brought back to the old time Mission.

The place is a refurbished movie theater with some nicely preserved art deco details.

Betita Martinez, author of 500 Years of Chicano History, turned out for the fun. She's working on the sequel, 500 Years of Chicana History, illustrated with hundreds of photos.

The event honored five women -- Sr. Cecilia Calva, Catherine Cusic, Catherine Sneed, Jenny Alejandrez, and Patricia Wells -- community activists all, who've contributed to the wellbeing of the 'hood and its people. Most of these folks have known each other since the heady 1980s when the wars in Central America set the agenda for the neighborhood. Today they are still working for and with current residents -- as headliner Francisco Herrera insisted: "let's stop with the talk about 'immigrants' -- let's say it: 'the working class.'"

The community ensemble, La Rondalla Voz del Sentimiento, opened with a mix of traditional Mexican and Chicano music.

Ubiquitous folk singer John Fromer delivered his tribute to women.

But this was Francisco Herrera's gig. Everyone in the Mission knows Francisco. For the last twenty-five years, if any individual or group -- tenants, straights, gays, religious, leftists, aspiring politicians, immigrant activists or labor organizers -- has called a rally, Francisco has been there to entertain and inspire.

And over the years, he's become more than an agitator. Today he's quite a smooth musical performer.

The evening was a gift to a community with a lot of problems that needs and celebrates its occasions for joy.

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