Check out the upcoming Distinguished Speaker Series events.
Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 7 p.m.
Edward Simonsen Performing Arts Center (Indoor Theater)
Faculty Coordinator: Dr. Matthew Garrett
The presentation will be a memoirist odyssey on why and how I and many other Mexican American youth in the 1960s became brown and Chicano and went into activism and the academy. I will talk about the conditions in which many of us lived, the inadequate schools we attended, the identity crisis many of us faced and the bleak economic future that awaited us. Into this landscape entered Octavio Romano, an anthropologist at the University of California-Berkeley, and the first Chicano Movement intellectual. He articulated in both a scholarly and intellectual fashion the aspirations of Mexican Americans throughout this nation. He established the journal, El Grito, whose works created the foundations for what is now known as Chicano studies. More importantly for individuals like me, he and his journal gave us a voice, helped us understand our history and identified those elements, institutions, and individuals who were hostile to our community. I came of age during those tumultuous years and continue to carry that spirit of activism and commitment to my community.
Identities are complicated things. Often contradictory and rarely easily understood, identities emerge early in ones life and are shaped continually through daily social relations as we seek to make sense of the world and our place in it. To some, the identities of Chicano and Mormon may seem contradictory or oxymoronic. The prior is an ethnic identity born out of the social activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s with specific reference to the cohort of Mexican American students and activists that embraced cultural nationalism and the anti-assimilationist politics of self-determination. The latter is a religious identity associated with a form of nineteenth-century Anglo-American Protestantism and conservative social values and politics. Yet, for Dr. Ignacio M. Garcia, Professor of Western & Latino history at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, there is no contradiction in being a Chicano Mormon. In his recently published memoir, Chicano While Mormon: Activism, War, and Keeping the Faith (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015) Professor Garcia recounts how his faith, acquired as a member of a Spanish-speaking Mormon congregation in the west side barrio of San Antonio, formed the basis for a lifetime of social activism and academic scholarship. In this deeply personal narrative, Dr. Garcia addresses the tension of navigating two seemingly contradictory social groups while growing up in a segregated barrio, fighting for America abroad, and organizing for la raza at home.
Brought to you as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month.