Monday, January 19, 2015

Juan V. Alvarez, Co-founder Of The Milwaukee Brown Berets And Community Activist Passed Away

Alvarez was instrumental in the late 1960's and early 1970's Latino civil rights movement and UFW Boycott in Milwaukee.

By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.

January 19, 2015

Milwaukee, WI - On Friday, Juan V. Alvarez, 67, of Hales Corners passed away and is remembered for his community leadership among others in the late 1960's and early 1970's Latino civil rights movement in Milwaukee. Alvarez originally from Laredo, Texas was a former Commander of the GI Forum, a Vietnam Veteran who joined the late 1960's civil rights movement and helped create the Latin American Union for Civil Rights (LAUCR) and the Latin American Education Committee (CELA), both non-profit organizations in Milwaukee. Alvarez along with Ernesto Chacon and the late Roberto Hernández created the LAUCR in 1968. Under LAUCR several other entities were created, the youth organization known as the Brown Berets, the La Guardia Newspaper and CELA. CELA was instrumental in helping to achieve a major higher education movement and protests against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) in the early 1970's which had a policy to discriminate Hispanics and kept them from enrolling at the university. On August 27, 1970, CELA led a Latino take over of the UWM Chancellor's office and demanded higher education enrollment for Hispanics who were considered unskilled and lacked higher education degrees. After days and weeks of protests, on October 23, 1970 the UWM Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute (SSOI) was created for the recruitment and retention of  Latino students at the university. The SSOI first opened its doors in Milwaukee's Southside at the 800 block of S. 5th Street where La Guardia Newspaper published it political publication that informed the community about Latino issues and discrimination. The SSOI later became the Roberto Hernández Center at UWM.
The LAUCR also helped coordinate the great United Farm Workers (UFW) Boycott in Milwaukee and Alvarez went to California to temporarily work along side César E Chávez, the late UFW leader. Alvarez came back to Milwaukee and helped coordinate the UFW grape boycott with Ricardo Enriquez, Roberto Hernández and Loyd J. Guzior.
Alvarez along with other LAUCR community leaders was also instrumental in coordinating the first "Cinco de Mayo" festivities in Milwaukee's Southside and organized students from South Division High School to skip classes in protest of the Milwaukee Public School District's opposition to recognized their ethic culture and education of Mexican and Latin American studies. 
Alvarez was a great community leader who would not be afraid to stand up against the status quo in the early 1970's who discriminated against Hispanics and today, many Latinos have benefited from the fruits of the late 1960's and 1970's Latino civil rights movement, according to Salvador Sánchez, another community leader who became the executive director of the United Opportunity Migrant Services in the 1970's.
LAUCR began the first community block Mexican Fiesta in the Southside of Milwaukee to generate student scholarships and the festival later moved to the Henry Mier Festival Grounds (Summerfest). LAUCR fought against job and housing discrimination in Milwaukee as well.
Alvarez in 1988 became the first Hispanic to head the Milwaukee County Social Services Office in Milwaukee's Southside, which was located at the 1500 block of W. National Ave.
Alvarez used the name of Cuauhtémoc as a collector of historic photographs depicting the Latino civil rights movement, which the UWM library has in its collection. Reference: The Juan Alvarez Cuauhtémoc Photographic Collection of El Movimiento in Milwaukee's Latino Community inclusive dates: 1968 - 1971, includes 36 photos.

Alvarez is survived by his loving wife Pam Meyer Alvarez, father to Juan G. (Tracy), Camila F. Leffel, Elsa (Joe) Nolan, Julia and Emiliano and grandfather of five grandchildren. Juan V. Alvarez was the son of the late Apolonio H. Alvarez and Camila.

Visitation for Juan V. Alvarez:

On Thursday, January 22, 2015
From 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Funeral Service from 12:00 p.m.

At Hartson Funeral Home
1111 W. Janesville Rd.
Hales Corners, WI

Interment at 1:00 p.m. at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery 

Juan V. Alvarez remembrance and life celebration:

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