SWOP Offering Free Books for AZ Students Affected by Ethnic Studies Ban

January 26, 2012

500 Years of Chicano History available to students who express why ethnic studies is important in schools

“500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures”, edited by Elizabeth Martinez and published by the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), 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 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 is a ban.

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. Many Arizona students have already shown their disapproval of the ban, as hundreds walked out of class and marched on the Tuscon Unified School District’s headquarters earlier this week.

“500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures” was produced by the Chicano Communications Center in the mid-1970s with the intent of educating 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, Joaquín Luján, says the book was an important step towards preserving a culture that was under attack. He had 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 Joaquín, 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,” Luján says.

“500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures” and the other books on Tuscon’s banned list collectively demonstrate, through their content and their inclusion together, the interrelated nature of the Mexican, Chicano, and Native American communities. The ban is oppressive to all students of color, because it negates their histories, their shared experiences today, and their contributions to their communities. A ban on history and ethnic studies is, in effect, a ban on culture.

More information about “500 Years of Chicano History” is available at chicanohistory.org.

Arizona students who would like a free copy of the book should send their letters to:

SouthWest Organizing Project

211 10th Street SW

Albuquerque, NM 87102


Send an Email to [email protected]

*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.

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