San Antonio said goodbye to labor leader Jaime Martinez on Thursday. The 70-year-old, lion-hearted fighter for justice and fair play died Sunday following a battle with cancer.
Hundreds of people gathered on the west-side street that bears his name to honor Martinez’s 50-year legacy of service. Gabriel Velasquez, who worked alongside Martinez, said that Martinez was a fighter until the end.
"Jaime never accepted the illness, the condition. He never said the word. He accepted that when it was time for him to go, it wasn't the illness that was going to take him, it was God's will that was going to take him,” Velasquez said.
Velasquez added that, in March, when it was time to lead the 21st Annual Cesar Chavez March for Justice, there was no doubt that Martinez would rally to get the job done.
“He wasn't going to quit for anything, and he told us very often that as long as he had a breath in his body, he was in that movement,” Velasquez recalled.
Velasquez also said that it's not possible to overstate the value of the contributions that Martinez made to the lives of the disenfranchised and voiceless.
“Jaime was more showing us how to live, how not to give up. So his lesson was about life,” Velasquez said.
Before a private funeral service, friends and family gathered for one final journey on the west-side streets where Martinez grew up.
Southbound on Brazos Street, the procession passed construction workers building a better community, the very workers that Martinez championed during his long campaign of service.
As the caravan headed west on Laredo Street, the large crowd started a chant they had been practicing. Leaders of the group said they wanted the family to know how much appreciation that had for Martinez.
“Se ve! Se Siente! Jaime esta presente!” they chanted. “See it! Feel it! Jaime is present!”