Tucson Bans 500 Years of Chicano History!

  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.”

Joaquin Lujan, during the time of the creation of the book, as a member of the Chicano Communications Center

“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.

For more information, call SWOP at: 505-247-8832

500 Years of Chicano History-About our book…

This is just one of the many priceless images of our book

Prepare to learn the history you won’t find in classrooms. This profound and notorious book tells the true story of the Chican@ people of the Southwest—how we came to what is now known as the US and made strangers in our own land after the arrival of the Pilgrims and the US War of 1846-48. 240 pages, over 800 photos. The entire text is bilingual. Order your copy at:


The book is $26.50 and that includes FREE shipping!