Coastal Bend forum shines a light on activism and labor unions


Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta gave a speech during the 2015 Coastal Bend Social Forum at Del Mar College. (Courtesy of Coastal Bend Social Forum/FACEBOOK)

Jonathan Garcia, Reporter

The 2019 Coastal Bend Social Forum will be looking to educate people on issues happening in America before the upcoming presidential elections.

The bi-annual event will be taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 9 in the Wolfe Recital Hall at the Del Mar College East Campus. Chlore Torres, one of the event organizers, discussed what the event is about.

“It’s an avenue for Corpus Christians to get together and participate more fully in democracy,” said Torres. “It’s a chance for those of us who live here to gather amongst ourselves and talk about issues that are affecting ourselves and our families.”

Torres added that the forum touches on local issues as well as national, and with the informal setting, it gives a chance to talk among neighbors, friends and family to discuss hot topic ideas such as immigration and come up with potential solutions or alternatives.

The forum will include keynote presentations from activists Diane Wilson and Lisa Fithian. Wilson will be discussing about labor rights in Texas, the importance of labor unions and why it’s a pressing issue.

“Texas has the highest rate in the country for wage theft,” said Torres, “which could mean anything from late paychecks that were promised to workers at a certain time and workers working through breaks.”

Torres also broke down the importance of this fact because it is our labor that produces the stuff that we enjoy. She added that when workers are suppressed, it suppresses the economy.

Wilson has been working around labor unions and articles that she has done that gave a contrasting perspective from what the public thinks.

“She had work specials done that construct a different narrative what the general public is told,” said Torres. “She flips that on its head, saying that the minimum wage is grossly underpaid and that workers do deserve more.”

Fithian will be discussing her recently published memoir “Shut It Down: Stories from a Fierce Loving Resistance” that was deemed a sort of how-to on becoming a political activist.

A group of panelists discuss an array of topics including issues that are plaguing the community both nationally and locally at the Coastal Bend Social Forum which this year will be held at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Del Mar College Wolfe Recital Hall. (Courtesy of Coastal Bend Social Forum/FACEBOOK)

“We see a lot of people with energy, but they’re just not super sure on how to get started,” said Torres. “She’s going to give people more pointers on how to get involved along with communities. “A lot of people have the will and motivation, … but they feel alone. She (Fithian) represents someone who was able to form all these coalitions. … When they worked together, they were able to accomplish things and establish a counternarrative.”

Torres also added that the reason why the forum is usually held at Del Mar, besides it being more accessible, is because it’s an established community that is frequently forgotten in public discourse.

“It is a community that is often left out of political discussion,” said Torres, “especially amongst City Council, the Court of Corpus Christi. … So, we want people in those communities to have an opportunity to discuss things.”

Although the forum is being held at Del Mar, Torres said that it is also important for Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi because of the growing political presence with groups such as the Islander Feminists, Pride Alliance and the Islander Green Team.

Torres also hopes that the forum will have the community keep in mind not only the 2020 elections, but to be more active participants in the community by researching the needs of the community to bring light to the potential candidates running for election or re-election.

The forum will also be hosting a screening of “A Strike and an Uprising! (in Texas),” directed by Anne Lewis, and there will be a Q&A session immediately after the screening.

For more information about the forum, you contact Torres at (361) 480-8495 or by e-mail at [email protected].