Librotraficantes Declare Victory; Remain Vigilant

Authors Tony Diaz and Dagoberto Gilb. (Photo by Liana Lopez)

I want to congratulate my sisters and brothers in the cause, Librotraficante led by author Tony Diaz, on their victory against the anti-Ethnic Studies bills filed by Patrick and Capriliogne. Here’s a press release of a victory event held earlier today, slightly modified.

Houston, TX (May 9, 2013) – The Librotraficante Movement is thrilled to announce that Texas united and stopped HB1938 & SB1128, which threatened to effectively dismantle Ethnic Studies. Texas did not let HB1938 take U.S. History Back to 1938 before Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies existed.

The Librotraficantes celebrated with a Book Liberation Party on the Capitol steps this Friday, May 10, Noon, in Austin, Texas featuring authors whose works were banned in Arizona but have been freed in Texas. This will include Dagoberto Gilb, whose banned books include Woodcuts of Women. We have also scheduled San Antonio’s first Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla, whose collection of poetry Curandera was banned in Arizona. She is battling cancer, so may not be able to participate. However, she has been a big champion and inspiration to our cause.

The Book Liberation Party will also include testimonies from students, activists, and new authors who supported this movement and who can continue to have their voices and imaginations nourished by studying Mexican American History, African American History, Women’s History, and other Ethnic Studies, and these courses shall continue to count toward the History Components of their Core requirement in Texas colleges and Universities.

At the onset of Spring Break, Texas Republican House Representative Giovanni Capriglione submitted HB1938 and Texas Senator Dan Patrick submitted SB1128, which threatened to legislate a Comprehensive U.S or Texas History course to fulfill Core History requirements without revealing the exact content of these courses. This bill would have demoted Mexican American History, African American History, and Women’s History to electives, effectively dismantling these programs.

Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, said, “Capriglione and Patrick submitted these bills on the first day of Spring Break. They must not have realized that the Librotraficantes spend Spring Break defying oppression. At this time last year, we launched the Librotraficante Caravan to Smuggle Banned Books Back into Arizona, and this year we defended Ethnic Studies in our own back yard. This is a warning to all far right legislators in any State of the Union, if you attack our History, our Culture, or our books, we will defy you. And we will win.”

Activists will remain vigilant to ensure that elements of these bills do not creep into other bills that have made it to a vote during the rest of the Texas legislative session.

Diaz, added, “As activists, it seems we are always on the defensive. That has to stop. We are planning to run candidates this fall for offices that will change that.”

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