Monday, August 12, 2013

To Preserve our Words is to Free Our People by Dr. Emilio Zamora

Student, faculty and staff protest at UT Austin in 1974
Photo by Alan Pogue
Based on an address May 18, 2013 by Professor Emilio Zamora as part of a symposium at the University of Texas at Austin highlighting the importance of the Mexican American Library Program (MALP) in collecting, preserving, and making available archival knowledge over four decades.

The MALP began with the formation of the Mexican American Graduate Association (MAGA) in 1972. Approximately ten Mexican American graduate students, mostly from the College of Liberal Arts formed MAGA and joined with the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) and community organizations to support the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS), established in 1971.
Dr. Américo Paredes, a Professor of English and the single most important figure in the development of CMAS and the cause for rights on campus, assumed the position of Director of the center, while José Limón, a graduate student in English, became the center’s Associate Director and administered it on a day-to-day basis.[i]
The community that coalesced around CMAS expressed concern that the university had not established the necessary institutional support to increase the presence of Mexicans at all levels of university life and to advance the study of the Mexican community. The establishment of CMAS was a step in the right direction. It became the focal point of evolving ideas, responsibilities, and opportunities in Mexican American studies. Its academic program, for instance, offered undergraduates formal learning environments and academic specializations, as well as opportunities for graduate students to teach research-based courses.

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