The UTRGV Department of Sociology & Anthropology and the Department of Criminal Justice on Friday, March 23, hosted a conference to honor fallen Chicano activists.
“Chicanx Movement Activist Conference: Encuentro” honored activists like Cesar Chavez and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez, whose portraits, along with political posters, lined the wall in the auditorium of the Science Building on the Edinburg Campus, where the conference was held.
An audience of about 50 students, faculty and former activists heard 10 lectures ranging from “Reflections on the Farmworker Movement, from California to Texas,” to “Police Brutality & the Rise of the Brown Berets.” Criminal Justice was part of the event, as many of the fallen activists died at the hands of law enforcement officials in incidents that helped spawn the Chicano Movement in the 1960s.
The all-day conference brought former Chicano activists and scholars from around the state. The event was organized by Dr. José Villarreal, a sociology lecturer at UTRGV and former activist who said he hopes to make the gathering an annual event. He said he put the conference together out of a need to inspire young people today, especially given the current political climate.
“To keep going, earn your education to develop your consciousness, especially at a time like now,” Villarreal told the crowd of students.
Ernesto Faga, publisher of El Tiempo Newspaper in Waco and a former activist, said that throughout the Chicano movement, the media wasn’t always on their side, either. He presented a lecture titled “Journalism and the Movement: El Tiempo Newspaper.”
Faga and his wife have been publishing El Tiempo for 36 years, and today, it is the longest-running Chicano newspaper in the country.
“I’m a product of the Chicano Movement,” Faga said. Then, looking pointedly at the crowd of students, he threw down a gauntlet.
“Get involved,” he said.