By Herman Baca / Committee on Chicano Rights
It was with a sad & heavy heart that we heard of the passing of beloved; Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez. To Isabel Sanchez, the entire Sanchez/Enrique families our deepest & most sincere condolences from the Committee on Chicano Rights, Chicano/Mexicano/Latino community, and my family.
I first met Chunky in the early 1970’s at SD State at a rally where Chunky was a student. At the time both of us were doing what we were to do for the next 45 years, Chunky playing & singing (then with La Rondalla Amerinda, later with Los Alacranes Mojados) & I speaking. We hit it right off, since the both of us were from two small rural agricultural communities, Chunky from Blythe, CA & I from Los Lentes, New Mexico.
In the preceding years (1970’s) Chicana/o’s Chunky, I along with thousands in San Diego heard the call to take action and struggle for self–determination; from the UFW, Cesar Chavez, Hermandad Mexicana, Humberto “Bert” Corona, Land Grand advocate, Reis Lopez Tijerina, Crusade for Justice, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, & Jose Angel Gutierrez of La Raza Unida.
The results in San Diego were the takeover of Chicano Park, Centro Cultural, Neighborhood House, & establishment of numerous community organizations. There were demonstrations against the Roman Catholic hierarchy demanding Chicano bishops, priests, nuns, etc. Pickets in support of Cesar Chavez grapes boycott. Organizing the Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War; protests to end police brutality & abolishment of the INS/Border Patrol. Strong demands of educational institutions to hire Chicana/o’s teachers, professors, administrators; establish bilingual education, Chicano Studies & programs for Chicana/o’s students to attend colleges. Politically, the organizing of La Raza Unida Party to register Chicana/o’s to elect candidates.
Chunky’s weapons for the Chicano Movement struggle were his guitar & music. His music was the political cement that kept the Chicano Movement in the community together (for over 45 years), in our struggles for self-determination to end the systemic racism & discrimination against our people.
To me personally, without a doubt Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez along with Little Joe from Texas are the two best known & beloved contemporary musicians to come out of the Chicano community. Cesar Chavez’s is quoted as stating that “Chunky” was his favorite musician.
In my opinion, Chunky was every Chicano/Mexicano/Latino favorite musician that ever heard him sing or play. His music expressed the pain, hurt, joy, success & progress of all poor people, but especially his own people…Chicanos/Mexicanos.
In 2013 The National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowships bestowed & honored Chunky with the U.S.’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts. Chunky joined legends such as blues giant B.B. King, gospel music great Mavis Staples, Nati Cano’s, Mariachi Los Camperos and bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe. As long as there are Chicanos/Mexicanos, Chunky & Los Alacranes music will live forever!
Politically Chunky was an institution, el Corazón y Alma del Movimiento Chicano y su gente, Chicanos/Mexicanos/Latinos. Personally, I can attest that “Chunky” for close to 50 years donated his time & music to lifting el espíritu de nuestra comunidad y gente, IN ALL OF OUR STRUGGLES!
There is not one community organization that Chunky didn’t help. From Chicano Park, the UFW, the Crusade for Justice, CCR, Centro Cultural, Mecha, Union del Barrio, Brown Berets, car club, veterans, seniors, & especially our youth. His musically & political involvement with the Chicano movement & our people extended from SD, all of California, entire Southwest, the U.S. & Mexico. In closing, as I have stated before, an era is slowly, but surely coming to an end.
GRACIAS CHUNKY, QUE DESCANSE EN PAZ!