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Celebrating tradition, unity and freedom

Daily Planet Staff
Monday May 07, 2001

The Latino community came together under sunny skies Sunday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, celebrating its traditions and culture with prayer, song, dance, good things to eat and, organizers proudly pointed out, no alcohol. 

It was the 18th Annual Cinco de Mayo celebration in Berkeley. 

The holiday commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, Mexico and resistance of the Mexican/Indigenous people against invading French forces under Napoleon III who intended to follow the invasion of Mexico by uniting with the Confederacy against the Union in the American Civil War.  

The fiesta, however, has evolved into a celebration of freedom from oppression and unity of all people fighting for autonomy. “We will not accept oppression in any form,” said Elma Gameros, executive director of Berkeley-based Adelante, Inc., speaking from the stage. Adelante and the city sponsored the event. 

Mayor Shirley Dean welcomed people from the stage, noting the day is a “celebration of pride.” Touring the booths, which included hand-crafted items and information from the city’s police, recreation and health departments, Councilmember Kriss Worthington told the Daily Planet that celebrating Cinco de Mayo is important, but that even more important would be greater efforts on behalf of the city to hire and contract with Latinos and other underrepresented groups.