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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Former California Supreme Court Court Justice Cruz Reynoso Named to Obama Agency Review Team

According to a release from UC Davis, Cruz Reynoso, professor emeritus of law at the University of California, Davis, has been appointed to President-elect Barack Obama's Justice and Civil Rights Agency Review Team. Reynoso will help lead a review of key federal departments, agencies and commissions, as well as the White House. The review will provide the Obama-Biden Transition Team with information needed to make policy, budgetary and personnel decisions prior to Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration.

Reynoso is an internationally known civil rights leader, the first Latino to sit on the California Supreme Court, and a 2000 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. He has served as associate general counsel to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, as a member of the Select Commission on Immigration and Human Rights, and as vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He joined the faculty at UC Davis in 2001.

I first encountered Cruz Reynoso a few years ago when he spoke at the 2006 Davis Cesar Chavez day celebration.

Reynoso told the crowd that day, that he was not sure sure that farm workers were better off that day as before Chavez.

The Davis Enterprise reported at the time:
Reynoso knew Chávez before the organizer became involved with the plight of farm workers. He said Chávez's early vision was of a self-help group for farm workers, not a union. But when he realized that nothing could be achieved without economic power, Chávez united his farm workers by organizing strikes and picketing. He also adopted tactics favored by another activist of the day, Martin Luther King Jr.

"But don't think of them (King and Chávez) as teddy bears," Reynoso warned. "César Chávez was often called a trouble-maker and an outsider."
Reynoso was suggesting at the time that people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez have been made safe by the passage of time. We think of King, in particular, as a non-violent activist, someone both sides of the fence admire, someone who almost seems safe and comfortable like a teddy bear. But during their time King along with Chavez were considered radicals.

The great thing about winning the Presidency from my perspective is that people on our side of the struggle, that many of us know and admire get picked to positions of influence and appointments of honor. And so men like Cruz Reynoso get their due honor rather than some of the more shady and despicable characters of the Bush administration.

---David M. Greenwald reporting