Saturday, July 21, 2018

El Pueblo de Tucson: Chicano Leadership In Bilingual Education Part I Pueblo High School by Antonio SolisGomez

Downtown Tucson in the 1950's

When I began attending the University of Arizona in July of 1975, I was surprised to learn that there were several Latinos on the faculty: Renato Rosaldo, Adalberto (Beto ) Guerrero, John Garcia, Celestino Fernandez, Joe Sanchez, Romaldo Juarez, Iliana Suarez Rivero, Arminda Fuentevilla and my library science professor Arnulfo Trejo. Another surprise was that the President of Pima Community College, Diego Navarrette was also a Latino and that the Latino Community played a key role in the establishment of the college.

In the back of my mind, I have always considered those Academic Latinos a unique occurrence for that time period and have always wanted to find out more of how that came about. As I delved into the story with information provided by Dr. Aristeo Brito and Dr. John Garcia, I realized that this was a story with many facets, requiring that I interview several more people to obtain its completeness. The story is much like the metaphor of the perfect storm, many diverse elements coming together to produce something out of the ordinary. I struggled to ferret out this story, so hidden by time, by the passing away of some of the important personages and by my own short comings in time and energy to devote to this task.

The story, however, must have a beginning and for me it’s found in the late1950’s with the founding of a Chicano student group at the University of Arizona called the Universitarios. It was a social club and a support group for the Chicano students who felt isolated among the mostly white students. Much of the credit for its formation belongs to the returning Korean War Veterans such as John Huerta, I was told by Marty Cortez who was a member during the time of it’s formation. Later the group began to raise money for scholarships and eventually the group became the Hispanic Alumni Association, which continues to raise scholarship money.

The Universitarios was important because students learned how to network and support one another and also some of those that graduated became teachers in Tucson, such as Diego Navarrette, Esperanza Burrel Bejarano, Evangelina Valdez, Guadalupe Guerrero Romero, Adriana Cordova Herman and Marty Cortez and they helped spur the Bilingual Educational programs for which Tucson is well known.
Maria L. Urquides The Mother of Bilingual Education

Another significant piece of this story was the launching of Sputnik in 1957.  Adalberto (Beto) Guerrero, about whom we’ll have more to say later, recalls that the launching of Sputnik had a great impact on education, not only in science and math but also in language education and included bilingualism, which led later to the availability of money for books and materials to be used in classrooms.
Henry Hank Oyama

We now arrive at the first manifestation of those prior two events in Pueblo High School, opened in 1956 to accommodate the growth in the city’s booming population going from 45,000 in 1950 to 212,000 in 1960. It was located on the Southside of Tucson and was attended mostly by Chicanos students. It also had a handful of teachers that were advocates of bilingual education, among them the woman that has been called the mother of bilingual education, Maria L. Urquides, who will also be covered in more depth in a subsequent article.

The answer as to how Pueblo, a seemingly non-descript school, became a promoter of bilingual education was provided during a breakfast I had with Beto Guerrero and with Macario Saldate, both former University of Arizona professors and Cosme Zaragosa, Professor Emeritus at Fresno State and a former student of Beto.
Adalberto Beto Guerrero

Beto who had been hired to teach at Pueblo in 1958, explained that Faith Frikart, head of the Spanish Department recognized that Native Speakers of Spanish needed a different type of class. She asked him to conduct a class for that group and to incorporate Spanish literature from both Spain and the Americas. This was a radical departure both in concept and in the selection of reading from what even Universities were teaching, there being at that time a distain for the literature from the Americas and a clear preference for Spanish authors.

Initially viewed by parents as a form of segregation, they were won over by the reasoning that it was akin to an honors class. And indeed it became that with students reading a total of one hundred books in Spanish during their four years in the class, bought with money being funneled through NDEA (read Sputnik).

A consequence of the class for Native Speakers was the concomitant improvement of student performance in other classes. Beto repots that in 1965, the school was given a national award as a Pacemaker School for its outstanding achievements and when the school blow-outs were taking place, Pueblo students said they had no reason to participate. Their needs as Chicano students were already in place.

In addition to Maria Urquides, Beto Guerrero and Faith Frikart, Pueblo was blessed with two other outstanding teachers during that era, Henry (Hank ) Oyama and Diego Navarrette, both of whom played key leadership roles in the establishment of Pima Community College. Hank once told me the story of Diego betting administration that Hispanic students were not deficient in intelligence and that their poor school performance was a deficiency in the acquisition of English and he won, by addressing what students were lacking.
Macario Saldate

I conclude Part I with the story of Dr. Macario Saldate, a professor of Spanish at the U of A for many years and currently an elected representative in the Arizona Legislature. He was a senior at Pueblo when Beto entered the school building for the first time and passed in front of him and his clica leaning against a wall ogling the girls. They were shocked to see a man with a thin mustache and more shocked when he greeted them in Spanish, Buenos Dias Muchachos.

When the Native Speakers class was offered, Macario’s utter disregard for school during that time kept him away. His younger sister however registered for Beto’s class and raved about the classroom work and about the books she was assigned to read. Macario was baffled.

Macario was from a family of miners and his dad once told him that his one regret was never having acquired a skill like carpentry or plumbing and as a consequence Macario enrolled in a welding class at Tucson High School taught by Brainard Douglas, whom Macario said taught him so well that when he finished the class he went to San Pedro California to work at the shipyards and became a Journeyman Boiler Maker in one year.

Returning to Tucson with a better appreciation for learning based on his experience with having to study welding manuals, Macario thought about enrolling at the U of A. His English was so poor however that his welding mentor, Brainard had to tutor him for an entire summer to enable him to pass the entrance exam. Once at the University, he chose to study Spanish under the tutelage of Beto who had moved to the U of A.  Macario eventually obtained his doctorate and became a mentor to many other young latinx.

Friday, July 20, 2018

New Books From Around the World

This week, a quartet of new literature from around the world now translated into English and to be published in the next few months.  Book summaries are from publishers' web sites.

Javier Cercas, translated by Frank Wynne
Knopf - August 28

[from the publisher]
From the award-winning author of Soldiers of Salamis, a propulsive and riveting narrative investigation into an infamous fraud: a man who has been lying his entire life.

Who is Enric Marco? An elderly man in his nineties, living in Barcelona, a Holocaust survivor who gave hundreds of speeches, granted dozens of interviews, received important national honors, and even moved government officials to tears. But in May 2005, Marco was exposed as a fraud: he was never in a Nazi concentration camp. The story was reported around the world, transforming him from hero to villain in the blink of an eye. Now, more than a decade later–in a hypnotic narrative that combines fiction and nonfiction, detective story and war story, biography and autobiography–Javier Cercas sets out to unravel Marco’s enigma. With both profound compassion and lacerating honesty, Cercas takes the reader on a journey not only into one man’s gigantic lie, but also–through its exploration of our infinite capacity for self-deception, our opposing needs for fantasy and reality, our appetite for affection–into the deepest, most flawed parts of our humanity.

Javier Cercas is the author of seven books, which have been translated into more than thirty languages and have received numerous international awards.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, translated by Lucia Graves
Harper - September 18

[from the publisher]
The internationally acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author returns to the magnificent universe he constructed in his bestselling novels The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, and The Prisoner of Heaven in this riveting series finale—a heart-pounding thriller and nail-biting work of suspense which introduces a sexy, seductive new heroine whose investigation shines a light on the dark history of Franco’s Spain.

In this unforgettable final volume of Ruiz Zafón’s cycle of novels set in the universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, beautiful and enigmatic Alicia Gris, with the help of the Sempere family, uncovers one of the most shocking conspiracies in all Spanish history.

Nine-year-old Alicia lost her parents during the Spanish Civil War when the Nacionales (the fascists) savagely bombed Barcelona in 1938. Twenty years later, she still carries the emotional and physical scars of that violent and terrifying time. Weary of her work as an investigator for Spain’s secret police in Madrid, a job she has held for more than a decade, the twenty-nine-year old plans to move on. At the insistence of her boss, Leandro Montalvo, she remains to solve one last case: the mysterious disappearance of Spain’s Minister of Culture, Mauricio Valls.

With her partner, the intimidating policeman Juan Manuel Vargas, Alicia discovers a possible clue—a rare book by the author Victor Mataix hidden in Valls’ office in his Madrid mansion. Valls was the director of the notorious Montjuic Prison in Barcelona during World War II where several writers were imprisoned, including David Martín and Victor Mataix. Traveling to Barcelona on the trail of these writers, Alicia and Vargas meet with several booksellers, including Juan Sempere, who knew her parents.

As Alicia and Vargas come closer to finding Valls, they uncover a tangled web of kidnappings and murders tied to the Franco regime, whose corruption is more widespread and horrifying than anyone imagined. Alicia’s courageous and uncompromising search for the truth puts her life in peril. Only with the help of a circle of devoted friends will she emerge from the dark labyrinths of Barcelona and its history into the light of the future.

In this haunting new novel, Carlos Ruiz Zafón proves yet again that he is a masterful storyteller and pays homage to the world of books, to his ingenious creation of the Cemetery of Forgotten, and to that magical bridge between literature and our lives.

Paulo Coelho, translated by Eric M.B. Becker
Knopf - September 25

[from the publisher]
Drawing on the rich experience of his own life, best-selling author Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to relive the dreams of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order. In Hippie, he tells the story of Paulo, a young, skinny Brazilian man with a goatee and long, flowing hair, who wants to become a writer and sets off on a journey in search of a deeper meaning for his life: first on the famous “Death Train” to Bolivia, then on to Peru, later hitchhiking through Chile and Argentina.

Paulo’s travels take him farther to the famous Dam Square in Amsterdam filled with young people wearing vibrant clothes and burning incense, meditating and playing music, while discussing sexual liberation, the expansion of consciousness, and the search for an inner truth.  

There he meets Karla, a Dutch woman in her twenties who has been waiting to find the ideal companion to accompany her on the fabled hippie trail to Nepal. She convinces Paulo to join her on a trip aboard the Magic Bus that travels across Europe and Central Asia to Kathmandu. They embark on the journey in the company of fascinating fellow travelers, each of whom has a story to tell, and each of whom will undergo a personal transformation, changing their priorities and values along the way. As they travel together, Paulo and Karla explore their own relationship: a life-defining love story that awakens them on every level and leads to choices and decisions that will set the course for their lives thereafter.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez, translated by Anne McLean
Riverhead Books - September 25

[from the publisher]
A sweeping tale of conspiracy theories, assassinations, and twisted obsessions — the much anticipated masterpiece from Juan Gabriel Vásquez.

The Shape of the Ruins is a masterly story of conspiracy, political obsession, and literary investigation. When a man is arrested at a museum for attempting to steal the bullet-ridden suit of a murdered Colombian politician, few notice. But soon this thwarted theft takes on greater meaning as it becomes a thread in a widening web of popular fixations with conspiracy theories, assassinations, and historical secrets; and it haunts those who feel that only they know the real truth behind these killings.

This novel explores the darkest moments of a country’s past and brings to life the ways in which past violence shapes our present lives. A compulsive read, beautiful and profound, eerily relevant to our times and deeply personal, The Shape of the Ruins is a tour-de-force story by a master at uncovering the incisive wounds of our memories.


Manuel Ramos has three noir short stories in the literary pipeline: Night in Tunisia (Blood Business, Mario Acevedo and Joshua Viola, eds., Hex Publishing, 2017), Snake Farm (Culprits: The Heist Was Only the Beginning, Richard Brewer and Gary Phillips, eds., Polis Books, 2018), and Sitting Ducks (Blood and Gasoline, Mario Acevedo, ed., Hex Publishing, 2018). His next novel is scheduled for publication in September, 2018 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Chicanonautica: The Pendejadas Never Die

I’m a cartoonist at heart, a dyslexic who started expressing himself visually before writing, or even reading, became comfortable. My approach is more that of a slapstick comedian than a poet. My speculative fictions tend to be satirical.

My Chicano experience makes racism a frequent target. I see it as fighting back. Racism should be dragged out into the blazing sun and deconstructed before a live audience in a ritual similar to both a vivisection and a bullfight.

I’ve thrashed out at these pendejadas over the years. Like a naive idealist, I thought that these protest works would become dated, and I would have to explain that racism and the grotesquerie it spawns actually existed.

But when I look back at my published work I'm horrified to find that racism does not get old, the pendejadas of the past are still with us, and my decades old writings still ring true.

Now that El Presidente is empowering the bigots, and the Supreme Court and Putin are backing him up . . .

I’m probably going to grit my teeth and write something else. I’m actually tired of writing about racism, but it keeps me out of jail.

Like I said, it’s fighting back.

As Ishmael Reed quoted Muhammad Ali: “Writin’ is fightin’.”

Meanwhile, I offer some links to some this fighting/writing. Maybe the uneasy laughter will do some good.

Gringos is a chapter from High Aztech that captures the essence of the novel and of the Latinoid condition on both sides of the Border, a never-ending nightmare from which we can’t escape because we don’t know if we’re awake or asleep. I wrote it back in the Nineteen-Nineties and reads like it was ripped from today’s headlines. The folks at Mithila Review: The Journal of International Science Fiction & Fantasy were kind enough to put it online.

Doctora Xilbalba’s Datura Enema appeared in, and was written for, Rudy Rucker’s Flurb, a Webzine of Astonishing Tales. He suggested I write about then Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s reign of terror. Opportunities like that don’t come often. See why El Presidente gives me déjà vu? I wonder what happened to Jan? She’s gone, but her pendejadas live on.

UNO! DOS! ONE-TWO! TRES! CUATRO! was written while El Presidente was running for the office. It was inspired by his campaign rhetoric. Like the old business saying goes, “Give the people what they want . . .” I tried to create a far-out dystopian vision. Lately, I think I may have been too conservative. The whole thing is in Five to the Future: All New Novelettes of Tomorrow. You can read an excerpt in Somos en Escrito: The Latino Literary Online Magazine.

The current situation hasn’t inspired a new story yet, but then this long, hot summer is just heating up. The night air already burns. The problem is, it’s getting hard to out-do pendejadas . . .

Ernest Hogan’s Smoking Mirror Blues is available in a new edition. He’s going to be the final judge of the First Annual Somos en Escrito Extra-Fiction Writing Contest 2018.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Macondo Public Events

Please join us in San Antonio, Texas! 

All events are free except the Sandra Cisneros Benefit Reading.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 25, 6:30–8:30pm
Macondo 2018 Faculty Reading

Reyna Grande, Fiction Workshop Leader
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke Poetry Workshop Leader
Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Creative Nonfiction Workshop Leader

San Antonio Central Library
Latino Collection Resource Center
600 Soledad Street, San Antonio

THURSDAY, JULY 26, 8-10pm
Open Mic featuring Macondo participants

Viva Tacoland
103 W. Grayson St, San Antonio

FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2018
2-5:30pm Seminars: The Act of Writing

2-3:30pm, Writing the Spirit: Spiriting the Writer, Norma Cantú, Writer and Professor

4-5:30pm, Translation as a Generative Strategy for Writing, John Pluecker, Poet

Modular B, Room B1G
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
One University Way
SanAntonio, Texas, 78224

7-9pm, Sandra Cisneros Benefit Reading for the Macondo Writers Workshop
Suggested donation: $20

Books will be sold and signed by Cisneros at the event. Credit cards only.
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
One University Way
SanAntonio, Texas, 78224

2-5:30pm, Seminars: Publishing and Submitting Your Work

2-3:30pm, Publisher’s Panel, Juan Tejeda, Aztlan Libre Press

4-5:30pm, Hitting Send: Literary Submissions Strategies, Tisha Reichle, Writer

Modular B, Room B1G
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
One University Way
SanAntonio, Texas, 78224


The Macondo Writers Workshop is an association of socially-engaged writers working to advance creativity, foster generosity, and serve community. Named after the town in Gabriel García Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the workshop gathers writers from all genres who work on geographic, cultural, economic, gender, and spiritual borders.

Macondo began in 1995 when Sandra Cisneros, founder, gathered a group of 12 participants around her kitchen table in San Antonio, Texas, to meet informally for rigorous writing workshops. Today, Macondo has over two hundred lifetime members--affectionately referred to as Macondistas. Macondo is a space for intense artistic and cultural creativity where writers, artists, thinkers, scholars, and critics inspire and challenge one another in order to incite change in their respective communities.

Macondo’s success is largely due to the commitment of Cisneros, a literary champion who has worked tirelessly to foster new voices—voices often overlooked by the established literary world. In addition to the cultural and literary partners of the greater San Antonio community, Macondo has also relied on the commitment of its previous participants—many who return as teachers and volunteers each summer.