“Dr. Casso would be telling us, ‘don’t mourn, organize'”

Dr. Ramiro Casso

Dr. Ramiro Cassos, a tireless champion of the rights of poor people and long time friend of the farm worker movement, died Thursday evening at the age of 88.

“We are deeply sadden by Dr. Casso’s passing and pray for his family in this difficult time,” shared LUPE Executive Director Juanita Valdez-Cox after learning of his passing.

“Our memories of him are all about his determination to speak for what was right and to defend the Mexican-American community from oppression in any form. His big heart and broad smile will be missed, but his legacy will endure for decades to come.”

Jim Harrington, Civil rights lawyer and friend to Casso, spoke with the Rio Grande Guardian about the doctor’s legacy:

    Dr. Casso was a great friend to the Texas Civil Rights Project and our South Texas office, as he was to all those who worked and strove in the cause of civil rights. And he was a personal friend, as he was to hundreds, if not thousands, of others.

    I had the honor of working with Dr. Casso on countless different causes and in his race for mayor of McAllen, which he undertook to make the city more accountable to its people. He worked to change the McAllen police culture of brutality that had become the subject of numerous federal suits and national scorn, when videotapes on police station beatings were shown around the world. He successfully led a voter referendum to block the sale of McAllen General Hospital by city officials to a private company, a deal that had no provision of services for poor people.

    Dr. Casso was intimately involved in the farm worker movement from the beginning, as far back as the 1966-1967 strike at La Casita Farms in Starr County that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision against the Texas Rangers for their brutality in breaking the strike…

Harrington concludes by telling us that “I am sure his final words to us would be those of union leaders of old, ‘Don’t Mourn, Organize.’ That would be the greatest tribute we could pay to this wonderful leader.”

Members of LUPE and the United Farm Workers gather in front of Dr. Casso's picture at the civil and farm worker rights activist's funeral Monday morning

Continue reading about Dr. Casso’s life and legacy at www.riograndeguardian.com

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