Thursday, June 23, 2022

Juneteenth 2022 and the Birth of the Book

Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

Guest post

A Juneteenth Poem
By Sojourner Kincaid Rolle
Illustrated by Alex Bostic
Union Square Kids 2022

I came to the world of Juneteenth in the late 1980s when my friend, Mrs. Mattie Brewer, from San Antonio proposed that we organize a Juneteenth celebration for Santa Barbara. In preparing for that event, I researched the history and created a hand-out: “The Meaning of Juneteenth.” Over the next few years, local groups would organize Juneteenth celebrations. Some years, my friend Mattie would host a Juneteenth celebration at her home. Every year—whether in a community center or at a backyard barbeque—we marked the day.

 During the early 1990s I met Yvette Sutton and Daisy Cotton, two residents of Oxnard, CA,  whose Texas roots sprang from the soil where Juneteenth originated. Sa\\\ “In 2004, my friend and mentor, Mrs. Valencia King Nelson, invited me to submit a poem for a special Juneteenth page that was being published by AfriGeneas, an online magazine. I wrote ‘‘Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem” and sent it in.

Since then, my Juneteenth poem has become somewhat of a standard. Bloggers, community organizers, and educators all over the country and even from Canada have used it. In 2018, a local group (now known as Healing Justice Santa Barbara) institutionalized our local Juneteenth celebrations. ‘‘Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem.” has been an integral part of subsequent celebrations. It was even filmed and included when the celebration was held virtually.

Over the years interest in my poem made me feel more connected than ever to the holiday. But recently I sensed a profound change starting with 2020. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the rise of Black Lives Matter, African-American communities all around the country celebrated Juneteenth. And beyond Black communities, Juneteenth had entered the mainstream consciousness. That year, a Texas-based film company created a film based a recording of me reading my poem aloud. The film was shared widely and I received notes and comments from across the country and around the world, including Australia, Poland, Germany, South America and the Caribbean.  

One year later, 2021 held another change…the big surprise. Juneteenth was declared a national holiday! It has become part of American Experience.  in  the months before and since, there have been numerous critiques on the holiday’s importance. One is that the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order signed on January 1, 1863, did not end slavery in the United States and many people remained in servitude even after June 19, 1865. It’s true. Lincoln’s executive order only applied to those who lived in the Confederate States. Slavery did not officially end in the United States until the 13th Amendment to the constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865.

Nevertheless, Juneteenth has emerged as the accepted date marking the end of slavery in the United States. It is a symbolic holiday. It is a symbolic representation of freedom for all who had been enslaved here.

Juneteenth commemorates a moment in time. That moment occurred in Texas for people who experienced the day,. noted its importance and carried the memory of that moment forward, sharing it with future generations. In 1979, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. Over the next 52 years, nearly all 50 states followed suit.

Now, the poem emerges as a book for young people. A book that tells the world about this revered holiday. What it commemorates. What it celebrates. For me, it celebrates endurance, perseverance, resilience, and the joy of being alive.

Charley Trujillo: Always Looking Forward


Soldados: In their own words

     Saturday, June 18th, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore, in Sylmar, CA. hosted Chicano writer, publisher, and filmmaker, Charley Trujillo. A couple of weeks earlier, Charley and I sat down in an El Segundo coffee shop to catch up on old times, except, as the audience at the Tia Chucha’s learned, Charley prefers to look forward, always following the headlights in front, his newest projects, rather than the darkness behind.

     Charley spoke about his evolution as an artist and businessman, from writing his first non-fiction book Soldados, his novel Dogs from Illusion, his Chusma House Press and upcoming releases, a successful PBS documentary based on his book, Soldados, and various online lectures, like Tiburcio Vasquez and topics as diverse as ethnic studies, but what he really wanted to talk about was his newest endeavor, a full-length movie, Dogs from Illusion, inspired by his books, the Vietnam War itself, and the real life experiences of Chicanos in Southeast Asia where, he said he left part of himself, figuratively and literally.

     Charley suffered serious wounds, losing an eye in combat. Like many soldiers during the war, he didn’t think he was ever coming home, but he did, and he knows his movie is different than other Vietnam and war movies because of his multi-ethnic cast, with Chicanos in the lead, and a Vietcong woman, based on a true character, in a key role. Charley's wants the audience to see Vietnam through a Chicano point of view, for the first time.

     During Q & A, he talked about his post-war journey, traveling the world, something of a vagabond, graduating from U.C. Berkeley and San Jose State, teaching, writing, and publishing. He told the audience how he noticed, early on, that books and movies about Vietnam completely ignored Chicanos, except for a few movies, stereotypical cameos of timid Chicano soldiers holding their rosaries or praying to makeshift altars.

     The reality was much different than the media’s fantasy. Chicanos face the enemy head on, and they came home in body bags, or wounded, in greater numbers than other groups in proportion to their population in the U.S. In all branches, Chicanos played major roles in the war, many highly decorated, like Roy Benavides and Everett Alvarez, leading as well as following, protagonists and heroes, nothing like the books or movies portray them. So, Charley set out to compose his first book Soldados, interviews with Chicano Vietnam veterans from his hometown of Corcoran, California, located in the San Joaquin Valley.

     Charley talked about the irony of Chicano farmworkers going off to Vietnam to fight a war against Vietnamese farmworkers, who made up the bulk of the V.C. guerilla forces, a theme he addresses in his movie, as well. He didn’t need to go far to find Vietnam veterans to interview. In Corcoran, alone, a population of less than 12,000 in the 1970s, he found nearly two dozen Chicanos who had gone to Vietnam, and not all of them were gung-ho machistas.

     He asked one veteran, “Were you drafted, or did you join?” And a typical raza answer, “(Laughing) Shit! That’s a stupid question. I was drafted,” or the way Manuel Lemus answered, “I was drafted in November of 1967. This was the cotton-picking season in Corcoran.” David Delgado admitted, “I stayed about five days at the San Francisco International Airport. I lived up there at the USO lounge. I couldn’t make up my mind whether I should go to Canada or not.” Then there was Herbert de la Fuerte, “Me and Manuel Gonzalez went to the induction center for our physical. Manuel told me that he had gone to a curandera and she was going to help him out and not pass the physical. I passed, and he didn’t.”

     After he finished his book, Charley submitted it to numerous publishers. All turned him down. He said he realized, like so much else in his life, if he wanted to get it done, he’d have to do it himself. So, he created Chusma House Books, Soldados his first publication. He became one-man publicity machine and travelled to read and sell books wherever he was invited. There were Chicano veterans and their families throughout the country who wanted to know about Chicanos in Vietnam. They all scooped up his book. Soldados went on to win Chusma House and Charley the prestigious American Book Award, an honor bestowed on a book by other writers for “outstanding literary achievement.”

     After finishing his screen play, he approached Hollywood with the script. They either showed no interest, or they wanted him to change the screen play dramatically. Again, he realized, if it was going to get done, he’d have to do it himself. The intrepid writer-entrepreneur is hard at work raising funds for his movie, a tic tik tok campaign already gathering 500,000 followers. The trailer to Dogs of Illusion is available at his website, along with information about his book, lectures, and awards. Charley has published a new edition of Soldados, and all proceeds will go to the film's production, which he is completing with Falcon Films, and documentary filmmaker Art Cervantes.     

     Chusma House Press has established it reputation and published such noted Chicano writers as Jose Montoya (In Formation, 20 Years of Bola), Jose Antonio Burciaga (Undocumented Love), Patricia Gonzalez (The Mud People), the soon-to-be released Barrio Girl Goes to Europe, by Sonya Fe, and the poetry of Gloria Velasquez. 

     Also on Charley’s docket is an anthology, Chicano Masculinity: Vatos, Warriors, and Pendejos, where he will encourage writers, both male and female, to submit work exploring the Chicano male as more than the stereotypes American society has cast on him, especially the beer-guzzling, womanizing machistas.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

2022 Pura Belpré Celebración

Sunday, June 26

1:00-3:00 PM

Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel

Potomac Ballroom Salon 1.





Pura Belpré Awards honoring Latinx writers and illustrators whose children's and young adult books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience: 




“¡Vamos! Let's Cross the Bridge,” illustrated by Raúl Gonzalez, is the 2022 Pura Belpré Youth Illustration Award winner. The book was written by Raúl Gonzalez and published by Versify, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


Four Belpré Youth Illustration Honor Books were named: 


"Boogie Boogie, Y’all," illustrated and written by C. G. Esperanza and published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


"Bright Star," illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales and published by Neal Porter Books, Holiday House.


"De aquí como el coquí,” illustrated and written by Nomar Perez, translated by Farah Perez and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.


"May Your Life Be Deliciosa," illustrated by Loris Lora, written by Michael Genhart and published by Cameron Kids, an imprint of Cameron + Company, a division of ABRAMS.




"The Last Cuentista,” written by Donna Barba Higuera, is the 2022 Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award winner. The book is published by Levine Querido. 


Three Belpré Children’s Author Honor Books were named: 


"Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna," written by Alda P. Dobbs and published by Sourcebooks Young Readers, an imprint of Sourcebooks Kids.


"Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua," written by Gloria Amescua, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.


"De aquí como el coquí,” written and illustrated by Nomar Perez, translated by Farah Perez and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.




"How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe,” written by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, is the Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Award winner. The book is published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. 


Three Belpré Young Adult Author Honor Book were named: 


"Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun," written by Jonny Garza Villa and published by Skyscape.


"Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet," written by Laekan Zea Kemp and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group.


"Where I Belong," written by Marcia Argueta Mickelson and published by Carolrhoda Lab, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Chile Verde Quiche: Crustless, Meatless, Gluten-free

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks

Chile Verde Gluten-free Meatless Tortilla Quiche 56g* 

Michael Sedano, The Gluten-free Chicano


Note well, this is the Ur- version of the dish. An experimental attitude, and a hielera full of left-overs, leads to wonderful eating. 

Add a layer of chopped Hatch chiles, or, zucchini for a modified green&gold casserole. Adding a layer of well-drained sausage or ground meat picadillo gives the dish an entirely new character. (Beware of ingredients that add liquid to the delicately balanced custard element. You will ruin your meal. Add more rice to soak up the liquid.)


375º 45 minutes


Whisk together vigorously:

2 eggs (medium) 7g 

Scant 1/3 cup whole milk 4g

2 TBS (¼ stick) salted butter melted .02g

Pinch coarsely ground black pepper .06g


½ can, 1 cup or so, Las Palmas green enchilada sauce. 3g


Grease a baking dish, bottom and sides:

Ladle a few TBS enchilada sauce on the bottom of the greased baking dish.


3 corn tortillas 33g

Tear corn tortillas into small chilaquiles-size pieces (1/3 the size of a storebought chip)

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with tortilla pieces, get them 2 layers thick.

Cover the tortillas with most of your enchilada sauce.


Add all the egg butter milk mixture atop the sauced tortilla pieces.

Scatter 1/8 cup leftover steamed rice into the custard blend. 6g

1/3 cup small curd cottage cheese.  2g

1/3 cup grated mozzarella or jack cheese .4g

1/3 cup sharp cheddar .4g


Distribute cheese across the top. 

Daub rounded TBS of cottage cheese in 4 or 5 spots;

Sprinkle lots of grated cheese across the entire dish;

Ladle a few TBS enchilada sauce across the cheese;


Decorate the top with sliced yellow cheese and black olives.


Bake 40 to 45 minutes at 375º. 

Give the Quiche a shake. If the top middle jiggles like jello, give it another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit five or ten minutes. 

Serve with a crisp green salad and a gluten-free dressing.

La Bloga-Tuesday: A History of Gluten-free Chicano Food

The Gluten-free Chicano has been a La Bloga-Tuesday Semi-regular Occasional feature since 2011, when Michael Sedano's Celiac Disease-dictated campaign against wheat / barley / rye ingredients in his food was in its fifth year. No: bread, soy sauce, beer, pasta, malted milk, and a host of suspicious ingredients best avoided than risk a few days incapacitation.

Just because you have a food allergy, and Diabetes, doesn't mean you have to find a cave and become a food hermit. Some food, like Mexican food, is naturally gluten-free, or mostly so. Other dishes lend themselves to gluten-free methods, and carbohydrate counting. Diabetics often limit each of 3 big meals to around 50g, and two snack meals at 35g.

Here are four columns where a click leads you to some outstanding comida Chicana, all of it Gluten-free. Menudo. Nopales. Helote Calabaza soup. Enchiladas. Mira nomás!

Puro Quiche

Chile-Potato-Helote Bisque  

Multiple recipes



*Carbs estimated from values found at 


Monday, June 20, 2022

Juneteenth: Yanga por Xánath Caraza

Juneteenth: Yanga por Xánath Caraza


Celebrating Juneteenth, I am sharing one of my poems, “Yanga”, that was originally published in my bilingual book of poetry Conjuro (2012). I hope you enjoy this poem.


A manera de celebración para Juneteenth les comparto uno de mis poemas, “Yanga”, que originalmente se publicó en mi poemario bilingüe Conjuro (2012).  Espero y lo disfruten.





Para Louis Reyes Rivera


Yanga, Yanga, Yanga,

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga,

Hoy, tu espíritu invoco

Aquí, en este lugar.


Este, este es mi poema para Yanga,

Mandinga, malanga,  bamba.

Rumba, mambo, samba,

Palabras llegadas de África.


Esta, esta es mi respuesta para Yanga,

Candomble, mocambo, mambo,

Candomble, mocambo, mambo,

Hombre libre veracruzano.


En 1570

Llegaste al puerto de Veracruz,

Encadenado como muchos,

Escapaste de la esclavitud.


Palenque, rumba, samba,

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga,

Espíritu indomable,

Noble hombre de África.


En 1609

Luchaste por la libertad,

Hasta tus puertas llegaron y

No pudieron entrar.


Mandinga, malanga, bamba,

Palenque, rumba, samba,

Palenque, rumba, samba,

Orgullo, ritmo y libertad.


Para 1630

San Lorenzo de los Negros

Se estableció.

Hoy, el pueblo de Yanga.


Candomble, mocambo, mambo,

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga,

Hoy, tu espíritu invoco

Aquí, en este lugar.


Yanga, Yanga, Yanga,

Palenque, rumba, samba,

Mandinga, malanga, bamba,

Candomble, mocambo, mambo.


Candomble, mocambo, mambo,

Mandinga, malanga, bamba,

Palenque, rumba, samba,

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga.





For Louis Reyes Rivera


Yanga, Yanga, Yanga

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga

Today, your spirit I invoke

Here, in this place


This, this is my poem for Yanga

Mandinga, malanga, bamba

Rumba, mambo, samba.

Words having arrived from Africa


This, this is my answer for Yanga

Candomble, mocambo, mambo

Candomble, mocambo, mambo

Free man of Veracruz


In 1570

You arrived at the Port of Veracruz

In chains as many

You escaped slavery


Palenque, rumba, samba

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga

Unconquerable spirit

Noble man from Africa


In 1609

You fought for freedom

At your doors, they arrived and

They couldn’t come in


Mandinga, malanga, bamba

Palenque, rumba, samba

Palenque, rumba, samba

Pride, rhythm and freedom


By 1630

San Lorenzo de los negros

Was established

Today, the town of Yanga


Candomble, mocambo, mambo

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga

Today, your spirit I invoke

Here, in this place


Yanga, Yanga, Yanga

Palenque, rumba, samba

Mandinga, malanga, bamba

Candomble, mocambo, mambo


Condomble, mocambo, mambo

Mandinga, malanga, bamba

Palenque, rumba, samba

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga



“Yanga” es parte de la colección Conjuro (Mammoth Publications, 2012).

Friday, June 17, 2022

Living the Dream

So, lately the writing part of my life has been in action mode. I’ll give a quick rundown for those interested in such stuff.

The launch of Denver Noir successfully continues after the initial event at the Tattered Cover back on May 3. Since then, various combinations of the fourteen contributors to the collection have read from their stories and answered questions from the audience at different venues. All the events have been well-attended, and I assume that the publisher, Akashic Books, is pleased with the sales from the events and the overall positive reviews that have been posted on social media and more traditional outlets.

My story, Northside Nocturne, was praised by Publishers Weekly: “Another high point is Manuel Ramos's powerful Northside Nocturne, which explores gentrification and racial hostility as rising violence, vigilantism, fear, and suspicion tear through a previously tight-knit community." And the Denver Post said the story was "among the best" with a "strong sense of place ... filled with racial tension and inevitable gloom."

I read from this story at the BookBar on May 25, and my next scheduled appearance is June 24 at the Douglas County Library in Highlands Ranch. I’ll be on a panel with Cynthia Swanson (editor), Barbara Nickless, and D.L. Cordero. The event begins at 6:30 P.M., and Denver Noir will be on sale, courtesy of the BookBar. This will be my last Denver Noir event, so I’ll see you there if you haven’t yet obtained your copy of the book. You are planning to add Denver Noir to your library, right? Details for this event can be found here.

Meanwhile, I received some very good news about my latest novel, Angels in the Wind, published by Arte Público Press in 2021. The Private Eye Writers of America selected Angels in the Wind as a finalist for a Shamus Award in the category of Best Original P.I. Paperback Novel. Winners will be announced in August. I’m very happy that Angels is getting some positive attention – it’s one of my faves.

Finally, I’ve started something new. I’ve got a general idea, a title, and about 400 words. Strange as it may sound, I don’t know yet if this new project is a story, novel, or something else (a play?) What I do know is that it’s time to morph into writing mode. Tie down the computer, keep the notebooks handy and dry, avoid distractions, impose self-discipline. Clear the decks, here we go again.



Manuel Ramos lives in Denver. His latest novel, Angels in the Wind: A Mile High Noir, is a finalist for the 2022 Shamus Award in the category of Best Original Paperback P.I. Novel.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Chicanonautia: Palabras del Pueblo Writing Workshop

I'm busy finishing a novel, and getting ready for a road trip to see what the new, improved, Wild, Wild America is like, so meanwhile here's something for all of you aspiring Chicano literary artistas out there.
 --Ernest Hogan, Father of Chicano Science Fiction 

Many writing workshops are overpriced and do not serve our Mexican American/Chicano community. Our storytellers, poets, and thinkers are not nurtured or given as many opportunities and so our voice as a people becomes drowned out or dictated by others. 

Palabras del Pueblo Writing Workshop is intended be financially accessible for raza to learn to better express themselves so our existence and values can be heard with clarity with no doubts to what they are and what we are. We intend the workshop to be a place to acquire tools, inspiration, and contacts for Chicana/o/x writers.

Classes will be held online on two long weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday): July 22-24 and 29-31 during the summer of 2022.

Applying is free, the cost is $100 once accepted. 18 years old and up. 

Deadline to apply is July 1, 2022.

Classes Offered

​We are offering three classes with a maximum of ten students per class

Fiction: Learn the art of crafting fiction with author Rosa Martha Villarreal.

Creative Nonfiction: Write and learn about the art of the personal essay, expository essay with a team of three instructors, Berte Reyes, Dr. Ernesto Mireles and Dave Weinstock. Students should come with three ideas they can write about. 

Poetry: Learn about the art and expression of poetry with Berkeley poet laureate Rafael Jesús González. ​​

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

By Alda P. Dobbs




Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers 

Language: ‎English

Hardcover: 288 pages

ISBN-10: ‎1728234654

ISBN-13: ‎978-1728234656



2022 Pura Belpré Honor Book

NYPL Best Book of 2021

Texas Bluebonnet Master List Selection

NPR Best Book of 2021



Based on a true story, the tale of one girl's perilous journey to cross the U.S. border and lead her family to safety during the Mexican Revolution.


It is 1913, and twelve-year-old Petra Luna's mama has died while the Revolution rages in Mexico. Before her papa is dragged away by soldiers, Petra vows to him that she will care for the family she has left—her abuelita, little sister Amelia, and baby brother Luisito—until they can be reunited. They flee north through the unforgiving desert as their town burns, searching for safe harbor in a world that offers none.


Each night when Petra closes her eyes, she holds her dreams close, especially her long-held desire to learn to read. Abuelita calls these barefoot dreams: "They're like us barefoot peasants and indios—they're not meant to go far." But Petra refuses to listen. Through battlefields and deserts, hunger and fear, Petra will stop at nothing to keep her family safe and lead them to a better life across the U.S. border—a life where her barefoot dreams could finally become reality.





"Dobbs' wrenching debut, about family, loss, and finding the strength to carry on, illuminates the harsh realities of war, the heartbreaking disparities between the poor and the rich, and the racism faced by Petra and her family. Readers will love Petra, who is as strong as the black-coal rock she carries with her and as beautiful as the diamond hidden within it."—Booklist, starred review


"Blazes bright, gripping readers until the novel's last page."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Vital and perilous and hopeful."—Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee

"Historical fiction that is as relevant as ever...A timeless and timely tale of one girl’s journey to save her family and discover herself." — Kirkus Reviews

"This beautifully written and exciting story of a family fleeing during the Mexican revolution offers a new perspective in historical fiction. An excellent addition to all collections." — School Library Journal


Alda P. Dobbs' upcoming novel, Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna, was inspired by her great-grandmother's experience during the Mexican Revolution in 1913. Alda was born in a small town in northern Mexico and moved to San Antonio, Texas as a child. She studied physics and worked as an engineer before pursuing her love of storytelling. She is as passionate about connecting children to their past, their communities, different cultures, science, and nature as she is about writing.


Alda's writings have won various awards including the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award and the Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant. She has also written articles for Highlights Children’s Magazine, Guideposts, and La Prensa newspaper.


Alda lives with her husband and two children outside Houston, Texas.


To learn more about Alda and her books or to sign up for her quarterly newsletter, visit