THE BLOG

The Jury's in: Texas Wants MAS, Mexican American Studies is Act II of the Civil Rights Act

04/04/2014 05:20 pm ET | Updated Jun 04, 2014

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Photo Credit: Sophia Flor

The Texas State Board of Education can mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act by voting to implement Mexican American Studies. This would stamp out one of the last vestiges of the discrimination the law was intended to defy.

This all takes place deep in the heart of Texas starting the week of April 7, 2014. (Click here for a schedule of events.)

We have a date with Destiny. And the whole world is watching. #TWWIW

April 8, the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas hosts Presidents Obama, Bush, Carter, and Clinton for a Civil Rights Summit to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act signed by President Johnson in 1964.

This is the law that created the legal framework for Affirmative Action, for Mexican Americans becoming a protected class that led to equal employment opportunities, and more. America has blossomed because of these policies; however, there's still a lot of work to do.

For example, a half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed this important legislation there still isn't one statewide sanctioned course for Mexican American Studies in LBJ's home state of Texas.

You might not think that there's a connection between LBJ and the Chicano experience, but there is.

President Johnson taught in a Mexican-only school in Cotulla, Texas.

The tragedy and irony of this fact is that it's not well known and there's not one single official course to convey this rich Texas, American and Mexican American history.

April 8, the same day the Civil Rights Summit begins, the Librotraficantes and our statewide coalition descend on Austin to fix this. April 8, 2014 the Texas State Board of Education hears testimony on implementing Mexican American Studies in Texas high schools.

Only institutionalized racism can explain how 50 years after The Civil Rights act was signed, 45-plus years after Cesar Chavez's fast, and now that Hispanics comprise 51 percent of Texas Public School Students --Texas Hispanic youth do not have equal access to culturally relevant courses.

If I sound impassioned, it's because I'm conveying this to you the same week that the Cesar Chavezmovie was released nationally. It is eye-opening and inspiring.

Cesar Chavez was a great leader who organized our community to over come great odds. And he did so without a smart phone.

Tweet that: #wisdom.

I've read about Chavez's life, but I was surprised at how much I didn't know, but learned from the film. Again, it's a shame there isn't one official course in Texas schools that contains information about the United Farm Workers Union.

The film also demonstrates how we have so many more resources at our disposal today.

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We Are On A First Name Basis With History

Nowadays, we are on a first name basis with history.

For example, you can read about LBJ in Hecho en Tejas An Anthology of
Texas-Mexican Literature
, edited by Dagoberto Gilb.

April 8 we could bring to Dagoberto to testify at the TX SBOE. He lives in Austin, and he was one of the authors whose works were confiscated from classrooms in Tucson Unified School District when Mexican American Studies was prohibited Under Arizona House Bill 2281.

His books, Woodcuts of Women and The Magic of Blood were part of the banned curriculum.

In 2012 when our Librotraficante Caravan smuggled the banned books back into Tucson, Dagoberto donated books, joined us on the bus, and even flew out professors from his program Centro Victoria at UH-Victoria to conduct workshops for teachers.

MAS is not banned in Texas. It just doesn't formally exist. You could say it's not documented, but it is here, working under the radar and under the table.

In fact, we have all the tools lined up to quickly develop a brilliant curriculum for teachers to easily use right away.

Gilb oversaw the creation of the Hecho en Tejas teacher's handbook titled, Made in Texas, which consists of lesson plans for high school and college. The works are aligned with all Texas education standards. So a teacher could take a workshop on Made in Texas on a Saturday and then use the material in a class on a Monday.

Or maybe we can bring Sandra Cisneros to testify April 8. Sandra's books, House on Mango Street and Women Hollering Creek were part of the Tucson ISD curriculum banned in Arizona-accused of promoting the overthrow of the government. I've read and re-read her works and must confess her brilliant books are not very practical for overthrowing even municipalities.

She lives in San Antonio. Sandra was one of the first people who made a donation for the Librotraficante caravan, she also donated books, and when the caravan stopped in San Antonio she not only read at our banned book bash at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, she also hosted us at her famous purple house.

She, too, is included in Hecho en Tejas.

I don't know what the Texas State Board of Education members are scared of.

Why would Texas State Board of Education Chair Republican Barbara Cargill try to block or sabotage a vote for Mexican American studies?

Why would Texas State Board of Education Representative for Houston, Republican, Donna Bahorich avoid coming on my radio show to tell us if she is for or against MAS? I fear she is against our culture.

Both have written to me several times to repeat that any course can be implemented at any school via "Special Topics."

Let me translate this into plain English.

They are informing me that we can re-invent the wheel as many times as we like.
How many wheels are we talking about?

Texas has over 1,200 school districts. Hispanic students make up over 50 percent of Texas students. We're talking about possibly 600 different versions of Mexican American History or literature.

Would we tolerate 600 versions of Math?

2014-04-04-TonyCh41.jpgPhoto Credit: Zeke Perez.

We Will Win.

April 9, 2014 TX SBOE representative Ruben Cortez, from the Rio Grande Valley, will propose as an action item a vote to implement Mexican American Studies as an option for Texas high schools. He has been a great advocate for this cause.

Ruben Cortez is a Democrat. There are 5 Democrats and 10 Republicans on the TX SBOE.

Republicans have been blocking this vote.

Three Republicans must join the five Democrats to make history by supporting our history and culture.

This would also show that Texans can work together along party lines. Three Republicans need to step in, set up and show that Texas can thrive and update the American Dream.

What will happen if the Republican Party turns their back on Mexican American History and further institutionalizes the racism LBJ sought to defeat?

The Republican Party will lose Texas.

As the GOP autopsy report pointed out, another Republican president will never be elected without Latino support.

The massive coalition we have created will not stop. We will continue. We will vote out those who thwart our culture and damn our educational system to the discrimination of the 1960's.

Mexican American Studies will flourish in Texas. It is only a matter of when and who walks with us.

This is the last chance we are giving for both political parties to reveal their true hearts and where they stand.

Our next stop is History.

Welcome to the Chicano Renaissance.

We have a date with History. #ATX Schedule of Events:

#BookRave #Counter Culture
Monday, April 7, 8 pm
Resistencia Book Store
Casa de Red Salmon Arts
4926 E. Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX

Tuesday, April 8: March for MAS:
9 am Corner of Cesar Chavez Street and Congress
Austin, Texas

Tuesday, April 8, Rally 12:45
Press Conference and Rally
Texas Education Agency Building
William B. Travis (WBT) State Office Building
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

Wednesday, April 9 The Texas State Board of Education Votes on MAS.