As the world remembers the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his march on Washington D.C., which strengthened the civil rights movement in America, it’s worth noting that the town of Cicero also has advanced significantly in reinforcing civil rights.
If you believed the inaccurate and incomplete coverage by the mainstream news media, you might think Al Capone and racial tension still haunt our great town. But Cicero is beyond those turbulent times, even if some media refuse to see.
One of my first acts as town president in 2005 was to address both the concerns of the Mexican-American community, the largest ethnic group in Cicero, and also the concerns of the African-American community.
From the standpoint of Mexican Americans, I have pushed open the door to opportunities for Hispanics. More Hispanics work for the town of Cicero today than any time in the past. I am proud to have appointed the town’s first-ever Mexican-American clerk, Maria Punzo-Arias. And, I have expanded the commemoration festivals honoring Mexican-American culture and even directed that the town newsletter be published in Spanish translation for those who do not speak English fluently. The town of Cicero police do not cooperate with federal immigration officers. No one is asked about their citizenship status in Cicero.
Finally, in honor of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, I launched the first-ever annual commemoration in Cicero to honor his legacy and the fight for civil rights. Each year in January, Cicero residents come together at the Community Center to celebrate King’s life and achievements. No other past president or elected official in Cicero has ever organized formal commemorations of King’s life.
I have tried to celebrate and recognize all of the town’s many ethnic groups with celebrations and commemorations, and by opening the door to jobs in our town. I continue to support the historic commemorations that were very popular in the past. The reorganization of the Houby Day Festival and Parade several years ago has drawn its largest crowds ever. More than 25,000 people came out last year along Cermak Road. Although Houby is a Czech festival, everyone – including the Hispanic community, join in to celebrate this great tradition.
Cicero is growing with new businesses, less crime and street gangs, more activities for youth, families and seniors, and with a strong vibrant economic base including maintaining government spending.
Larry Dominick is president of the town of Cicero