César Chávez, Texas

Forget about renaming Industrial Boulevard or Ross Avenue or the Dallas North Tollway. The city should go all the way.

Lower its bar? Lower its bar? I can't think how else to interpret "lower its bar" except as meaning "know their place." And Mark Davis, this white guy in the Morning News, is going to tell them what that place is.

It's astonishing to me that anyone would put forward a suggestion of this sort in print, and that the city's only local daily newspaper would print it without comment or presentation or explanation of any sort, as if this were a perfectly reasonable and intelligent expression of common sentiment.

So, look, I have a suggestion. I think it's time to amp this thing up a few notches. If Davis can tell the Mexicans to know their place—and stay in it—then I think I should have a right to revise my own views on the other side. And I am dead serious here. I believe that what I am about to suggest could happen.

What a wonderful thing it could be for the future of our fair city.
What a wonderful thing it could be for the future of our fair city.

In order for my suggestion to become reality, major changes would have to take place. The whole fabric of local politics would have to turn itself inside out. Latinos would have to register to vote and actually show up at the polls in numbers far more vast than the experience of the past. But as one who was present during the Half a Million March in downtown Dallas on April 9, 2006, I believe that these changes may even be under way already.

I propose that we change the name of the city from Dallas, Texas, to César Chávez, Texas.

Now, wait a minute. Don't start getting all helter-skelter on me. If you can get your breathing under control and give this idea just a moment or two of reasonable consideration, you will see what a wonderful thing it could be for the future of our fair city.

Who are we named for now? We don't even know. Presumably we are named for some rum-soaked, raccoon-wearing, frog-gigging denizen of the 19th century wilderness. César Chávez was actually a great man, someone whose life and accomplishments we know well and in detail.

His name, because it is Mexican, would be emblematic of the enormous contribution to and improvement of our community rendered by the influx of immigrants from Mexico in the last half-century. Think about it.

These are hard-working, family-centered, ambitious people, courageous enough to leave all that they know and venture into a strange and hostile land in order to provide better lives for their children. We have Anglos in this city of all social stripes, up and down, who wake up in the morning and can't even remember that they have children until their second cup of coffee. How can we not be better off for having more Mexicans?

Think of the fanfare for César Chávez, Texas, if this happened. Imagine what the world will think when all of the other contingent name changes begin inevitably to fall into place: Audiences around the world will thrill to the sounds of the excellent César Chávez Civic Orchestra. Critics will rave about exciting new exhibitions at the César Chávez Museum of Art.

Much of the unfortunate baggage that has plagued this city's current name for so long will fall by the wayside. I speak of the president whose last name began with a K, not to reopen a wound or anything. This would be clean break.

The truth is that Dallas has never been a city of tradition. The great strength of this city has always been its forward movement. This has always been a place where people come to shed their pasts and make a fresh start. That's what's cool about Dallas. You are what you say you are. Well, that and what you've got in your pocket.

When the suggestion was made to rename Ross Avenue after César Chávez, some of the bloggers complained that we must not dishonor the Ross Brothers for whom it is named now. I laugh out loud every time I read one of those comments.

The who brothers?

César Chávez really is somebody. He stands for the courage and dignity of humankind digging its way up from penury to a better life and a better world for children. He really is a hero.

Think of the attention we would get all over the world. "Dallas Renamed César Chávez, Texas." There isn't a newspaper in any language in any country that would not put that headline on page one.

And even if we don't get there, even if it's too big a bite, I hope that making the suggestion will at least help point people in the right direction. You don't take a thing like "know your place" sitting down in this country. You push back that much harder, demand that much more, make that much more trouble. It's what makes this a great country.

Man! Think of it. The most famous sports team on Earth will be the César Chávez Cowboys!

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