Tag Archives: librotraficante

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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Librotraficante Earns Intellectual Freedom Award

From the University of Illinois Grad School of Library and Information Sciences. Congrats to my friend Tony Diaz and his compatriotas for this ongoing movement. La lucha sigue!

Librotraficante is the 2012 recipient of the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award given by the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Librotraficante, a movement led by Tony Diaz, is being recognized for its efforts to oppose the censorship of ethnic and cultural studies materials in Arizona.

In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed Arizona House Bill 2281 to modify the state public education system in regards to the teaching of ethnic studies. By prohibiting courses “designed for pupils of a particular ethnic group” and “advocating ethnic solidarity,” this law has been used to eliminate Tucson’s popular Mexican American Studies (MAS) program from the public school system. This ban involved the removal of dozens of MAS textbooks and reading list books such as award-winning works A People’s History of the United States (Zinn, 1980) and Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire, 1970). In response, the American Library Association (ALA) issued a resolution opposing the restriction of these materials.

The Librotraficante (the translation of which means “book smuggler”) movement emerged to counter the effects of the ban. In early 2012, with leadership from Diaz, Liana Lopez, Bryan Parras, Lupe Mendez, and Laura Acosta, Librotraficante organized a caravan of educators and activists who facilitated a series of events across the Southwest to raise awareness of the situation and collect books for underground libraries. The caravan reached Tucson on March 17, 2012, with over 1,000 books.

Librotraficante efforts have since extended across the country including the development of a magazine and a freedom of speech event created in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. On September 21, 2012, several groups, including librarians participating in the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, came together to learn more about the struggles in Tucson and appreciate the important works currently being censored.

A reception to honor Librotraficante will take place during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, Washington, on Saturday, January 26, 2013, from 5:30–7:00 p.m. The reception will be held in the Visions Room of the Renaissance Seattle Hotel, 515 Madison Street, Seattle. ABC-CLIO, a publisher of reference, contemporary thought, and professional development resources, provides an honorarium for the recipient and co-sponsors the reception.

The Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award is given annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it affects libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or long-term interest in, and dedication to, the cause of intellectual freedom. The award was established in 1969 by the GSLIS faculty to honor Robert Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the school.