Rodolfo Francisco Acuña has been called the “father of Chicano Studies.” It’s a topic he knows well. Acuña is a historian, professor emeritus, and the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, which tells the history of the Southwestern United States that includes Mexican Americans. The book has been reprinted five times since its 1972 debut. The sixth edition was published Dec. 1, 2006 but today Acuña finds his book banned in Arizona and accused by the current attorney general, and former state superintendent of Arizona’s public instruction, of fostering “ethnic chauvinism.” A longtime immigrant rights activist, Acuña shares his feelings about his book being banned and his thoughts as to why it’s important to fight the censorship of his book and the dismantling of the ethnic studies program in Arizona schools.
In the battle over Tucson’s ethnic studies program, opponents of the program have been able to more or less hide their political agenda behind vague worries about the district’s Mexican American studies program. Not so now, say supporters of the ethnic studies program after an independent audit found that the programs are perfectly legal.
Arizona’s attempt to dismantle Tucson’s ethnic studies program was dealt a blow Tuesday when students rose up and took over a school board meeting where a resolution to determine the fate of the program was up for discussion. Fifteen minutes before the board meeting was set to start, nine students stormed the stage and chained themselves to the board members’ chairs as protesters filled the room and chanted: “Our education is under attack, what do we do? Fight back!”