Sunday, April 21, 2013

Navarro, Iconic Migrant Rights And Higher Education Activist In Wisconsin Passed Away

Dante Navarro 

Navarro known as a pioneer in radio programming, the first Hispanic State Assembly candidate in Wisconsin for the South Side of Milwaukee, migrant rights and higher education activist died peacefully on Thursday.

By H. Nelson Goodson
April 21, 2013

Milwaukee,  WI - On Thursday, Dante Navarro, 93, originally from Mexico City, but grew up in San Luis Potosi, Mexico passed away peacefully at the Wheaton Franciscan Hospital in Franklin, according to his wife Ines. Navarro, a naturalized U.S. Citizen and who later became an instrumental Hispanic community leader for his passion and struggle in the late 1960's and early 1970's for civil rights, migrant rights, higher education and equal access to local and state job opportunities will be greatly missed, but forever remembered. He was a pioneer in Spanish language radio programming, which the first Spanish radio broadcast by Navarro was aired in 1945 in the Milwaukee area.
He led the first successful boycott of Miller Brewing in the 1970's to push for equal opportunity for Latinos to be hired at the beer making company and was instrumental for the state to hire Hispanics at the Department of Motor Vehicle, the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments.
In 1985, Navarro was recognized as "Man of the Year" by United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) for his contributions to the Latino Community in the state of Wisconsin.
On August 2002, Navarro and others were recognized at the annual Mexican Fiesta lakefront event after the State of Wisconsin Assembly in a Citation dated August 1, 2002 sponsored by State Representative Pedro Colón recognized and honored Navarro and 500 community educational activists for their persistence to increase enrollment of Latinos at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). Also, the Milwaukee County Board; Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker; the Milwaukee Common Council; Mayor John Norquist from the City of Milwaukee; Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum; UWM Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and Rod Paige, the U.S. Secretary of Education recognized Navarro and other community leaders for their "Stuggle for Education" in 1970.
In 2010, Navarro was honored by UMOS and the Mexican Independence Bicentennial parade committee as the Honorary Parade Marshall for that year. Navarro was well known for his community education activism in the 1970's. He was an instrumental leader in the 1970 peaceful protests and sit-ins at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor's Office.
Navarro along with four other people were arrested on August 27, 1970, while engaged in a peaceful sit-in, protest and persistence to change UWM policy to allow Latinos to enroll. The four people arrested with Navarro were Jesus Salas, Marla O. Anderson, Gregorio "Goyo" Rivera and Jose Luis Huerta-Sanchez.
Dante Navarro shared a cell with Jesus Salas. Navarro told Salas, "I feel a shame of being arrested. Jesus responded, you were not arrested for a crime. It's not a shame to be arrested for protesting against discrimination and for our children to have access to higher education in our community," Navarro recalled during an early interview.
On September 1, 1970, then UWM Chancellor J. Martin Klotsche decided to admit Latino students into the university. On October 28, Salas, Roberto Hernandez and Armando Orellana announced the creation of the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute (SSOI). SSOI was instrumental in recruiting and retention of students at UWM. In 1996, SSOI was renamed the Roberto Hernandez Center.
Today, there are 30 Hispanic faculty and more than 1,400 Latino students attend UWM per semester. The successful effort by Navarro and others led to universities and private colleges to recruit and accept Hispanics and other minorities as students.
Navarro was the first Hispanic candidate to run for public office (State Assembly) in Milwaukee's South side. He worked for the Ladish Co., Braeger Chevrolet,  Arrow Oldsmobile and at UMOS as a migrant worker advocate and later retired.
Navarro a humble and well respected man was well known to shy away from public recognition and being honored, but gracefully accepted the honor bestowed by the community for his accomplishments.
Navarro is survived by his wife Ines Navarro and brother Ovideo Navarro from San Luis Potosi. Navarro was the son of Francisco Navarro, Sr. and Cristina Ochoa Navarro. 

Visitation for Navarro will be held on April 27, 2013 at 10 a.m. with mass service at 1:00 p.m. at the Witkowiak Funeral Home, 529 W. Historic Mitchell St., Milwaukee,  Wisconsin.
Private internment in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

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