Reflecting On Proposition 187 – Rocio Richards, Teamsters Local 2010

10/28/2019

​25 years ago, millions mobilized against the hatred and racism of Proposition 187. Students organized massive walkouts. Unions organized hundreds of thousands of Latino and Asian workers to stand up for their rights. Latino leaders of today were born in the crucible of the fight. On Saturday November 9th, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come from California’s regressive past.

Get tickets for the free event at ​https://thelafed.org/weareca/

Rocio Richards, Labor Representative and Organizer for Teamsters Local 2010

Rocio Richards was in high school when the racist, anti-immigrant Proposition 187 was placed on the ballot in California. Now a Teamster labor representative and organizer for Teamsters Local 2010, Rocio reflects back on the fight against Proposition 187 and how it shaped her into the person she is today.

I was a sophomore back in 1994 when Proposition 187 was on the ballot. My high school was predominately made up of undocumented Mexicanos; in my case, it had only been about 4 years that my family was able to obtain legal residency. My family and I were agricultural workers in the small northern California town of Colusa. When I first heard about the proposition that Pete Wilson branded as “Save Our State” I was outraged, then I was afraid for my classmates and neighbors.

About a month leading up to the elections and when Proposition 187 was getting more publicity, a lot of my classmates were missing class because their families were afraid to send them to school in fear that they would be picked up and be deported. It wasn’t just undocumented students who were afraid, we were all afraid because we didn’t know how public officials would differentiate between documented and undocumented people. Was it the way that we spoke? The sound of your last name? The shade of your skin? Proposition 187 was an attack on human rights that targeted specific communities in California by denying them health care and education.

Historically, immigrants have been the political scapegoats for economic depression, unemployment, government failure, crime, violence, and diseases. And by putting Proposition 187 on a ballot and making it seem like this was supposed to save tax dollars, what it was really about was about racism.

Newspaper clipping from high school walkout organized by Rocio Richards.

I remember the week before elections were to take place, I was hearing that other high schools were organizing walkouts and that cities were organizing rallies. I then started talking to my classmates about our school doing a walkout as well. At first, my classmates were afraid because they had been hearing that people would be getting arrested if they walked out, and I made sure that we were going to do this walkout peacefully and well organized. It was Friday, November 4th, 1994 when we all decided to walk out. I remember calling the local newspaper to alert them that our school was doing a walkout. We felt so empowered that we were actually fighting for something that we believed in.

Rocio Richards, Labor Representative and Organizer for Teamsters Local 2010

It’s been 25 years since that day but that was just the beginning for me. There was a spark that ignited in me back in 1994 and I am now a Teamster labor representative and organizer, and, I still continue to fight just as hard for the rights of people.

I am so proud to have been a part of that historic moment that mobilized the Latino community to what it is now. That moment was the turning point for a lot of us and have made us what we are today.

Rocio Richards, Teamsters Local 2010

​25 years ago, millions mobilized against the hatred and racism of Proposition 187. Students organized massive walkouts. Unions organized hundreds of thousands of Latino and Asian workers to stand up for their rights. Latino leaders of today were born in the crucible of the fight. On Saturday November 9th, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come from California’s regressive past.

Get tickets for the free event at ​https://thelafed.org/weareca/