Childhood

A descendant of the proud Tarascan culture that inhabited the States of Guanajuato and Michoacan, and the adjacent territories in the El Bajio lowlands of central Mexico, seeking refuge from the ravages of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the Morales family embarked for the promised land to the North; not unlike all immigrants, past and present, who make up the diversified citizenry of the United States. Don Dionicio’s father, Severo Morales, reminiscent of pioneers before him who crossed the Great Plains to reach California, crossed the Chihuahua desert to establish a beachhead in Moorpark, California for his family. Subsequently, he was followed by Dionicio’s mother, Narcisa Arenas, and accompanying relatives, who crossed the Sonora desert, primarily riding the rail box cars, encountering every conceivable ordeal, made their way after crossing the border, on foot, to Yuma, Arizona. Broke and starving, with Narcisa in advanced pregnancy, they were given shelter in an Indian reservation by the Quechan tribe of 1st Nation Americans.

The Quechan community embraced Narcisa and provided all the necessary comforts, shelter and nutrition, enabling her to give light to a healthy first born — born in the new country of their quest for a better life. He was named ‘Dionicio’ in honor of the patron saint of the community on whose name day he was born. This event was embedded in Dionicio’s psyche by his mother who was eternally grateful to the Quechan and who forever remembered the community in her prayers. The moral he always has lived by since his birth, “the brotherhood of man eclipses political boundaries and national agendas,” was learned by the example of this selfless, loving and caring community.

Once in Moorpark, an agricultural community in Ventura County, California, Dionicio experienced the hatefulness of white supremacy — a prejudice based on pigmentation of skin and ethnicity. His setbacks were also offset by the just and equitable treatment he and his family experienced from their patrons and neighbors. In this polarized society of love and hate, Dionicio chose love and determined at a young age to defeat the forces of hate. He mused, if America is to survive based on its ideology of justice and equality for all, it must eradicate the cancer of prejudice that is a social epidemic. The cure, he concluded was enlightenment, the defeat of ignorance. Education was the equalizer.

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