Librotraficante Caravan: Houston to Tucson 2012

February 10, 2012, Houston, TX. The Librotraficante Caravan will travel from Houston, Texas to Tucson, Arizona with not only a payload of contraband books, but it will also create a network of Underground Libraries, and other community resources in its wake. As one of many responses to Arizona’s unconstitutional laws prohibiting Latino Studies, The Librotraficante Caravan has captured the imagination and hearts of activists, writers, educators, and workers from all walks of life who want to preserve Freedom of Speech.

The Librotraficante Caravan will launch from Houston on Monday, March 12, 2012 at 10 a.m. from Casa Ramirez Folk Art Gallery (241 West 19th Street, Houston, Texas 77008.) It will stop in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas; then Mesilla and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and culminate in Tucson, Arizona, on Friday, March 16. On St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17, we’ll host a huge literary celebration of El Batallion San Patricio at 6 PM, celebrating Irish and Mexican collaboration of the past. The caravan celebrates Quantum Demographics, or multifaceted cultural unity throughout its tour. The entire schedule and updates are available online at http://www.librotraficante.com.

“Every great movement is sparked by outrage at a deep cultural offense,” said Tony Diaz, founder of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, which has led the charge, “Rosa Parks was denied seating on a bus. For us, when we heard that Tucson Unified School District Administrators not only Prohibited Latino Studies but then walked into class rooms, and in front of young Latino students, during class time, removed and boxed books by our most beloved authors – that was too much. This offended us down to our soul. We had to respond.”

Diaz added, “With their record of anti-immigrant legislation, politicians in Arizona have become experts in making humans illegal. We did not do enough to stop that, thus that anti-immigrant legislation spread to other states such as Alabama and Georgia. Now, these same legislators want to make thoughts illegal. If we allow this to happen, these laws too will spread. Other branches of Ethnic Studies will be prohibited, and then other states will follow suit.”

With its radio program and its blockbuster literary showcases, Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say has 13 years of experience promoting Latino literature and literacy with authors and thinkers from across the country. This once informal alliance of artists, activists, educators, and professionals has galvanized to create cornerstone structures for a network that will remain in place for future causes as well.

The full spectrum of this network links the talents of such people as Genius Mac Arthur Grant recipient Sandra Cisneros, whose beloved novel HOUSE ON MANGO street is prohibited in Tucson High School class rooms; to the Southwest Organizing Project – who have extensive experience organizing national caravans, and are helping with the New Mexico portion of the route; to Unidos, the student group in Tucson that is organizing teach-ins, while still attending classes and pursuing their education.

Banned writers have embraced the caravan and will participate along the route, including MacArthur Genius recipient Sandra Cisneros, who kicked off our fundraising efforts by making a generous donation; Guggenheim Fellow Dagoberto Gilb, whose work recently appeared in the New Yorker and Harpers; and best selling author Luis Alberto Urrea, who was the first to enthusiastically support the project through Twitter.

Other literary giants participating in the Librotraficante Caravan include Rudulfo Anaya, whose seminal novel BLESS ME ULTIMA is banned; Denise Chavez, FACE OF AN ANGEL, who is hosting the caravan in Mesilla, New Mexico and organizes the Annual Border Book Festival; Lalo Alcaraz, creator of the syndicated column La Cucaracha and coined the phrase “Self Deport.” Institutions that already confirmed to host the caravan include the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas, and the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The caravan is intended to:

1. Raise awareness of the prohibition of the Mexican-American Studies Program and the removal of books from classrooms.

2. Promote banned authors and their contributions to American Literature.

3. Celebrate diversity: Children of the American Dream must unite to preserve the civil rights of all Americans.

4. Create a network of resources for art, literature, and activism.

Specific outcomes:

1. Underground Libraries: Librotraficantes will donate copies of the banned books a local nonprofit in Houston, San Antonio, Albuquerque, and Tucson. These sites will not only be given copies of the banned titles, but from now on, all multicultural authors are encouraged to mail copies of their books to these sites when they are published, so that our community will always have access to our literature.

2. Teach-ins and a Supplanted Book List: Workshops that include free Curriculum Guides with literary excerpts and lesson plans that can be used in class the immediately and applied to other works.

3. Network of Librotraficantes across the country: This is a case of new media saving the classic media of books. Had Arizona done this ten years ago, we most likely would not have heard about it until it had impacted a second generation of our youth. However, because of new technologies and the number of writers and activists who are communicating on multimedia, we were not only able to hear about it, but to also use new media to organize some classic activist strategies to respond-from now on!CONTACT:

http://www.tonydiaz.net, http://www.lianalisa.com, http://www.youtube.com/hightechaztec

Authors supporting the caravan:

Dagoberto Gilb
Author of “Wood Cuts of Women” and “The Magic of Blood.” BANNED.

Sandra Cisneros
Author of “House on Mango Street.” BANNED.

Helena Maria Viramontes
Author of “The Moths and Other Stories.”

Stephanie Griest Elizondo
Author of “Around the Block.”

Sergio Troncoso
Author of “The Last Tortilla & Other Stories.”

Richard Delgado
Author of Critical Race Theory: An Introduction J. Stefancic. BANNED.

Manuel Muñoz author of “Zigzagger.” BANNED from the high school that he teaches across the street from!
Luis Urrea
5 books banned including: “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” and “The Devil’s Highway.” BANNED.

Carmen Tafolla: “Curandera” BANNED. Wings Press is  republishing her book for the caravan.

Barbara Renaud Gonzalez author of “Golondrina, why did you leave me?”

Denise Chavez author of “Loving Pedro Infante.”

Rudolfo Anaya author of “Bless Me, Ultima.” BANNED. He charged us to “Occupy Arizona.”

caravan schedule: http://www.librotraficante.com/Caravan-Sked.html

Tony Diaz, AztecMuse@aol.com, (713) 867-8943
Websites: http://www.librotraficante.com, http://www.nuestrapalabra.org
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