• April 22nd, 2024
  • Monday, 09:26:41 AM

Denver Hosts National Assoc. Chicana/o Studies Conference

Artwork: Alma Lopez



The Colorado Foco, the state coordinating committee of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), is pleased and honored to announce in El Semanario the upcoming national NACCS conference in Denver. The NACCS Conference will be held March 29-April 1, and Denver during the meeting will therefore be the national epicenter of the academic field of Chicana and Chicano Studies (CHS). The Conference will offer attendees the rare opportunity to learn from the major national scholars in the field about their latest research in a myriad of academic areas about the history, culture, and social circumstances of the Chicana/o communities.


The NACCS conference will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 3203 Quebec Street, Denver, CO.  It will begin with a Welcome reception Wednesday evening, March 29, and from Thursday, March 30 through Saturday, April 1, numerous panel and roundtable presentations, plus Plenary sessions. There will be an educational and entertaining Noche de Cultura at the Colorado History Museum, 1200 Broadway (Denver), the evening of Friday, March 31. Among other events, it will include a brief presentation and film clip of Betty Aragon-Metotes’ “Los Betabeloros: The BeetWorkers.”


Attendance at the Conference requires registration, with fees depending on whether one is a student, college or university professor or other employee, or community member. Read more information about the Conference here and registration details here. Access the draft of the program here to review the breadth of subjects of the presentations.


While the Colorado Foco presentations are not yet listed in the program draft, there will be several by faculty and students from throughout Colorado, including the History and Development of CHS in Colorado; Aquetza: Youth Leadership, Education, and Empowerment Summer Program at CU Boulder; a presentation by Dr. Priscilla Falcon of her book, “Mexican Foreign Policy 1934-1992”; a screening of the film “These Storied Walls: Chicano Community Murals of Colorado”; and on the development of CHS in Northern Colorado.  Renowned Colorado artist Leo Tanguma will receive the prestigious 2023 NACCS Community Award for his outstanding artistic contributions.


Colorado is an especially appropriate site for the NACCS 2023 Conference as our community has a long and active history of struggle for education.  As early as 1913, our people in the San Luis Valley filed a lawsuit against Alamosa’s school district due to discrimination, which forced Chicana/o students to attend “the Mexican school,” segregated and under-resourced. The District alleged the segregation was based on language, not race, but many Chicana/o students were proficient in English. The “Francisco Maestas et. al. vs. George H. Shone et. al.” case proved successful, as the court ruled against the District.


In the 1960s, with the increasing attendance by Chicana/o students in higher education, the struggle for what would become Chicana/o Studies intensified. The Crusade for Justice by 1965 began an incessant fight for education and other civil rights, creating an independent school, Escuela Tlatelolco, emphasizing Chicana/o Studies courses in K-12. The landmark, student-led 1969 West High School Walkout was pivotal for Chicana/o education. Among the ten student demands were the teaching of “our people’s history, culture, language, and contributions.”


Also in Denver, in the late 1960s, resulting at least in part from the “redlining” residential segregation, the Keyes family, who were Black, filed a lawsuit against Denver Public Schools. Chicana/o students had been segregated with Black students, which the District asserted demonstrated integration, but with under-resourced schools. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1974 ruled in favor of the Keyes family and the Black and Chicana/o families in the district, a significant ruling nationally, with progress reverberating to today.


NACCS Colorado Foco members have been advocates for our students’ education, including efforts in K-12 in Denver and throughout Colorado. The Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) Department of Chicana/o Studies, from 1997—2005, engaged in a partnership with Denver Public Schools in the Alma de la Raza Curriculum and Teacher Development Project. It created 85 curriculum units for K-12, mostly Chicana/o but including Black, Indigenous, and Asian Americans. More recently, Foco members helped in drafting and advocating for a Colorado State Legislative Bill, HB19-1192, passed in 2019, an infusion as well as a high school graduation-class requirement model. It calls for including in K-12 “the history, culture, and social contributions of American Indians, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals within these minority groups… and the intersectionality of significant social and cultural features within these communities….”


These few examples, among numerous others, demonstrate progress within our Colorado community and influence by and support of NACCS. If your schedule permits, please join us at this NACCS Conference to welcome our colleagues from throughout the country to Denver and Colorado. For information contact Dr. Chalane Lechuga at  clechug3@msudenver.edu.