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Ramon ‘Chunky’ Sanchez: Singing My Way to Freedom

By Anna Daniels / San Diego Free Press

Art and life seamlessly merged a few weeks ago at Border X Brewery in Barrio Logan.  It was the site of a launch party for Emmy award winning filmmaker Paul Espinosa’s latest project, a full length documentary about San Diego activist and musician Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez.  It was a career milestone for both Espinosa, who is probably best known in San Diego for his critically acclaimed production of The Lemon Grove Incident and Chunky whose music has been a voice for social justice for over thirty years.

Chunky Sanchez Film Project

Over the course of those three decades, Chunky would be witness to and participate in the birth of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.  He and the musical group he formed–Los Alacranes– traveled to Delano, California in support of Cesar Chavez and the grape farm workers.  He was involved with the takeover of Chicano Park in Barrio Logan.

Chunky sang about huelgas.  He sang about the indomitable spirit of ordinary people fighting injustice. He performed on Joan Baez’s first Spanish language album. Chunky and Los Alacranes have been present at San Diego demonstrations and rallies for over a quarter of a century.

Chunky has become a cultural icon–the subject of paintings and the well known photo of him crossing the border fence in Tijuana, a character in the Culture Clash play Radio Bordertown. He has received a National Heritage Fellowship at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

It seems fitting that his larger than life presence would be captured on the big screen.  Singing My Way to Freedom, a feature-length documentary, will chronicle Chunky’s life and the group he formed.  Espinosa, an independent filmmaker, and the Media Arts Center San Diego launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to finish the documentary.

The Kickstarter campaign has a goal of $39,000 and will run through October 6th. The money raised will pay for the costs of finalizing the documentary.

“Our film examines how Chunky’s personal development as a musician is interwoven with the broader history of the U.S.-Mexican border, from the 1960s right through to immigrant rights’ protests happening today,” says Producer Paul Espinosa. “His story proves that, when you stand up for your rights, you can truly make a difference.”

The Kickstarter campaign is a powerful way for those of us who value this history to also make a difference.

Trailer for Singing My Way to Freedom

You can make a donation to the Kickstarter campaign at chunkyfilm.com or you can donate with a check to “Espinosa Productions,” 4452 Park Blvd, Ste 214, San Diego, CA 92116


Anna Daniels left a moribund Western Pennsylvania mill town the year that Richard M. Nixon was not impeached for crimes against the American people, and set off in search of truth, beauty, justice and a beat she could dance to. She is a local San Diego writer and an editor at the San Diego Free Press.

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