HOUSTON — On Friday, April 29, members from a number of Latino civic organizations and other advocates of Latino and ethnic studies will deliver a collection of Mexican-American Studies books to the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, as a message to Texas legislators not to follow other states’ lead in limiting which texts are taught in schools.
Led by Tony Diaz, known as the “El Librotraficante” (The Book Trafficker), the “Caravan of Banned Books” will be joined by members of the state chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). They will be delivering donated books to the ATX Librotraficante Underground Library from libraries in Houston and San Antonio.
Diaz is known for leading an effort to sneak banned books that focus on Mexican-American studies into the state of Arizona 10 years ago. A 2010 law banning ethnic studies in Arizona was later struck down in 2017 as unconstitutional after a judge found it to be racially motivated.
This time, however, the country is facing much broader bans.
The issue has expanded, and the fight against banning books is much more comprehensive for Diaz. Hee says the latest attempts to pull books from shelves in various states, censor LGBTQ literature, and ban teaching about race are updated versions of the attack on ethnic studies in Arizona.
“We can’t respond to this current attack with the same approach we used 10 years ago because, clearly, the folks that want to erase our history and culture have studied the success of the Librotraficante movement, the ethnic studies movement, the Black Lives Matter movement,” Diaz said in a March interview with NBC News.
“Elected officials must make our art, history, and culture more accessible to our community-not less,” said Diaz in a statement shared with Latino Rebels on Monday. “Officials need to implement Ethnic Studies, and we need to put culture in our community’s hands through Under Ground Libraries, Family Libraries, and murals.”
Diaz’s forward-thinking approach is gearing up to battle against attacks that use the “Critical Race Theory” misnomer to drive book bans.
“Recently, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he planned to ‘go after professors who teach Critical Race Theory,’ ” Diaz said in his statement. “He must clarify if he believes Mexican American History is CRT. We became Librotraficantes ten years ago to defy Arizona officials banning Mexican American Studies. We will not tolerate such bans in our own backyard.”
“We must never forget that history is erased only when societies allow it to happen. Texas LULAC will not be silent in the face of such efforts, and we salute the Librotraficantes for their courage and determination,” added Rodolfo Rosales Jr., LULAC Texas state director. “Their hand-delivered book shipments helped untold tens of thousands of Latino students continue to learn about themselves and gave rise to a new generation of culturally proud leaders.”
Events are scheduled for the entire day on Friday, ending with a 3 p.m. procession of banned books called the “March for Cultura” from Palm Park in Austin along Cesar Chavez Street to the Texas Capitol Building, where the banned work of Latinx writers will be shared at 4.
Information about transportation, meetup locations, and scheduled events can be found here.
Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American father of three young men, an anti-racist, journalist, and publisher of The Antagonist Magazine. If you’d like to learn more about the issues covered here, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also support his work here and here.