Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
Cesar Chavez address to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Nov. 9, 1984
The Mexican American Studies program that existed in Tucson was unique.
Colleges all across the nation from Harvard to Arizona have an MAS program, but this education is already for the privileged few who made it through the K-12 educational system that seems to be content with having a high school graduation rate for Latinos that is just below 50%.
The MAS program in TUSD was created during a gang violence epidemic in our schools during the 90s and created for those students who were one step away entering the private-prison-pipeline. Students who never read a book in their lives now could not put these books down! This is the power that we all know comes from a quality education, where the student can’t wait to tell their family and friends about what they learned that day in school. Sadly in Arizona, when brown youth do the same, it must be because they are conspiring to overthrow the US government, and they must be stopped.
In 2010, HB2281 was signed into law a month after SB1070 transformed Arizona, and after many battles, in January 2012 the MAS program which had graduation rates as high as 97% for its students was killed.
During this battle we made many allies nationwide, and despite the minimal to non-existent coverage of the movement by local media, the nation has been able to see how we have continued through local blogs and national media that can view events in Arizona from the outside and see clearly the injustice that is happening here.
Along with MAS classes being banned, they banned our books that were used in these classes. This led to the birth of the Librotraficante movement led by Tony Diaz that involved motivated MAS advocates such as Georgina Perez from El Paso who would lead a bus of the most ruthless and hardcore nerds across the Southern United States into the belly of the beast, smuggling the finest contraband and latest paperback editions of banned books the students here have ever seen.