Free 500 Years Books for Arizona Students!
500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, edited by Elizabeth Martinez and published by the SouthWest Organizing Project, is included in a set of primarily Chicano and Native American books that have been banned by the Tucson Independent School District. The school district says it’s not a ban, but the books were summarily removed from classrooms after the Mexican-American Studies program was eliminated. And teachers in that program have been instructed to not teach these books through the lens of ethnic studies. To us, this constitutes a BAN.
The book was produced by the Chicano Communications Center in the mid-1970s. The reason for creating the book was to educate young Chicanos about their true history, an education they weren’t receiving in the schools. One of the staff people at the Chicano Communications Center who worked on the book, Joaquin Lujan, says the book was a critical component of achieving self-determination. He, like others, was taught growing up that his history was no longer important for his survival. He experienced, like many in his generation, the erasing of identity—expressed through language and culture—the minute he walked into the schoolhouse.
“I walked in as Joaquin, and walked out as Jackie,” he says, “which was a very sad day for mi abuelito.”
“There was a need being expressed throughout our communities for a book that accurately represented our history as people of color in the southwest, so that our children had the tools they needed to understand themselves and the world they lived in,” Lujan says.
500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, as well as the other books that are on the banned list, collectively demonstrate through their content and their inclusion together, the interrelated nature of the Mexican, Chicano, and Native American communities. In effect, the BAN is oppressive to students of color across the board, because it negates their histories, their shared experiences today, and their contributions to their communities.
This BAN by the Tucson schools isn’t the first time 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures has been banned. Previously, the book was banned by the Vaughn, NM Independent School District. Many teachers at that time, like teachers now in Tuscon, were outraged and saddened by politicians and bureaucrats telling them that they couldn’t teach students of color their history, which is critical to their full development as people.
The SouthWest Organizing Project, in response to the current ban and the overall climate of fear and scapegoating of people of color in Arizona, is offering the book at a 50% discount to Arizona residents, and will give it for FREE to any Arizona Student who requests the book by sending a letter describing why they think the teaching of Chicano and Native American history accurately to young people is essential.
Arizona students who would like a free copy of the book, should send their letter to:
SouthWest Organizing Project
211 10th Street SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Send an Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
*The offer of a free book extends to the first 1000 requests from Arizona students. SWOP may print your letter on the Chicanohistory.org website. If you do not wish to have the letter printed, please indicate that in your letter.
For more information, call SWOP at: 505-247-8832