06/18/2013 11:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Blue Grass Librotraficantes Use Border Crossing Art to Spread the Chican@ Renaissance to Louisville, Kentucky. Yes, Kentucky!


Saturday, June 22, the Chican@ Reniassance spreads into the fabric of Louisville as the Librotraficantes open at Under Ground Library in Kentucky at the Americana Community Center.

That's right, Kentucky has Latinos! And we're supplying them with over 200 contraband texts from Tucson, Arizona, donated from around the country.

For all of this to fully sink in, you have to fully embrace Quantum Demographics. In other words, you don't have to be Mexican American to enjoy this Renaissance. And you don't have to be a book either. You can also be a quilt.

Only Art Can Save Us:
Two hundred plus copies of the contraband texts will be donated from across the country by members of the HUUmanists. We teamed up with them last year as well to open the Librotraficante Under Ground Library in Phoenix at Puente. This year they brought friends.

Roger Brewin, curator of the Ribbons Not Walls Project has inspired more art based on art.

Only Ekphrastic Art Can Save Us:
Ekphrastic Art is the epitome of border crossing art -- art about art, crossing genres, defying the artistic border patrol, and inspiring seemingly disparate groups to unite.

"Ribbons, Not Walls" is a display of fabric art, illustrating social action carried out by Universalist Unitarian and Humanist groups or individuals, to be featured at the UUA General Assembly in Louisvile, KY, in June, 2013.

Roger summed up the group's origin as such, "Ribbons Not Walls began as a followup to the HUUmanists project of "book SmUUggling" into Phoenix Arizona, following the example of Librotrafficante Tony Diaz. Over 400 Humanists and Unitarian Universalists brought, from all over the country, one copy each of the 80+ books that Arizona had taken out of Tucson classrooms. We knew we would collect the same books for a partner organization in Louisville, in June of 2013, but also needed a way to match and build upon the original enthusiasm."

He added, "My wife and I remembered the sense of anticipation involved with making a panel for the Pentagon Peace Ribbon in 1985 and the sense of belonging that came with taking 50 panels from Chicago to Washington, on the train. We set out to create a much smaller, more intimate version of that unique peace venture, with the modest goal of having two dozen fabric arts panels representing the themes of the banned books -- and other immigration related projects carried out by UU congregations and humanist groups. We wanted to ask artists to use their talent and vision to inspire others to do the work of social justice."


There will be 24 panels each portraying some aspect (theme, episode, cover art) of one of the banned books. Panels may be done in applique, embroidery, quilting, or any means of putting durable images on fabric. Calligraphy on fabric is also welcomed. This will also become a traveling exhibit with 3 other stops already confirmed.

This is an example of books and fabric creating pre-electronic multimedia. Take that, Jan Brewer! The books banned in Tucson have grown into more art, inspired more readers, and are thriving. The Chican@ Renaissance is going viral the old fashioned way-one comadre and compadre at a time.

New Art Compadres/Comadres: The Navigators:

Navigators USA Chapter 30, chartered at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine, IL is an intentionally inclusive, co-ed scouting organization of 25 children and their families. They created several fabric panels focused on Immigration as well as the attack on Ethnic Studies in Arizona. "We welcome all people -- boys and girls and adults no matter what gender, race, lifestyle, ability, religious or lack of religious belief," they said. "We were thrilled to make panels for the Ribbons Not Walls project because immigration issues are such a valuable lesson for our children to learn. We painted a shelf of some of the books banned in Tucson, and we talked about how it would feel if we were not allowed to study about our own heritage."


If you want to see these panels and meet our new art compadres and comadres in person you can.

Saturday, June 22, 2013
7:15p - 7:30p
Representatives from the HUUmanists and the Librotraficante Movement will present the donated books to representatives from Americana Community Center. The panels will also be on exhibit.
Kentucky International Convention Center
221 Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40202

And then the books banned in Tucson get a new home:
American Community Center
8p- 8:30 PM
This will feature a reception to receive and store the donated books.
4801 Southside Drive,
Louisville, KY 40214

If you can't make it, please donate books!

Click here for a list of the banned books.

Why should you become a Libroraficante?:

Librotraficante P'alante aka Eric Kleppe-Montenegro explains, "I have a BA in Sociology with a minor in Latino Studies from the University of Louisville. I am an artist and a youth organizer. My mother is a Colombian immigrant who came to study medicine in Oklahoma, where I was born."

"I am a Librotraficante because I was blessed with the precious knowledge found within these banned books, and we all have a right to an education that teaches us about our history and place in the world. I've been reading Sandra Cisneros since middle school, and Franz Fanon was a part of my curriculum in college, so these books have been fundamental to my development. In my life I have benefitted greatly from the struggles for desegregation and the establishment of Ethnic Studies Programs, which have made the whole country a better place to live and learn. Louisville needs an Underground Library because it is a diverse city with a growing global immigrant and refugee population, who we embrace as neighbors. In order to have a compassionate city for all we must work against racism and for real education. There is a rich history in Louisville of people like Dr. Blaine Hudson who fought for education, and we will continue their legacy. As we stand with Arizona, we also stand with each other."

Librotraficante Under Ground Libraries are gateway libraries. Here is a map to some of the Librotraficante Under Ground Libraries around the nation. More are scheduled.

Houston - Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts (MECA) 1900 Kane Street, Houston, TX 77007, - Alice Valdez, Founder, Director

San Antonio - Southwest Workers Union, 1414 E. Commerce, San Antonio, TX 78205 - Genaro Rendon, Director

Albuquerque - Los Jardines Institute, 803 La Vega Dr. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105 - Sofia Martinez, Program Coordinator

Tucson - John Valenzuela Youth Center, 1550 S 6th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85713 - Gloria Hamelitz -Director

El Paso - YWCA El Paso del Norte Region, Racial Justice Program, Librotraficante Under Ground Library, 1600 Brown Street, El Paso, TX 79902 - Cemelli de Aztlan, Program Coordinator.

Phoenix - Puente, 1306 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85006-3438 - Directors Carlos Garcia & Alexis Aguirre.

We will be opening additional Under Ground Libraries this year in Milwaukee, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Coming soon: Libros Milwaukee, Hillview Center, 1615 S. 22nd Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204 - Director: Adriana McCleer

We also have our first college chapter at the Rio Grande Valley in conjunction with the Mexican American Studies Club at the University of Texas Pan American.

Also, coming soon: Our first high school chapter will open with a Librotraficante Banned Book Den at the Raul Yzaguirre School for Success in Houston.

Stay tuned for more information on today's Civil Rights Movement.