Texas capital

Librotraficante begins next chapter by marching on Texas capital in support of critical race theory

As state governments across the country continue to attempt to ban critical race theory as well as books that students can and cannot read, one organization is fighting back.

In 2010, a group of Chicano activists and writers, called Librotraficante, smuggled the banned Chicano history and other books from Texas to Arizona, after the Tucson Unified School District dismantled the program. Mexican-American studies. Seven years later, a federal judge barred Arizona education officials from enforcing the ethnic studies ban.

Currently, Texas lawmakers are grappling with topics like critical race theory, and some school districts have removed books with LGBTQ+ narratives.

“So now, 10 years later, because of the governor’s and the lieutenant governor’s stance on critical race theory, we risk losing the progress we’ve made with Mexican-American studies and Afro-American studies. Americans”, Laura Razo, founding member of Librotraficante, told KXAN.

On Friday, April 29, the group travels to Austin, Texas to applaud former activists but also to reinvigorate efforts to keep these teachings in the classroom.

At 2:00 p.m., the group will meet in Palm Park and, after a brief program, they will march with the Librotraficante caravan to the State Capitol.

Their protest may be the most visible book ban protest staged by Latinos to date. Librotraficante founder Tony Diaz said BNC News that the caravan and rally are more than just a response to the latest book bans.

“We want these books in the classrooms, so people are coming together for this. It won’t be a one-time deal,” Diaz said.

Several of the books targeted in Texas are LGBTQ+ themed or have been written by LGBTQ+ authors, some of whom are Latino.

Attempts to ban the books deepen the invisibility that many Latino authors, scholars and activists say they struggle with.

Paul Ortiz’s award-winning book, An African American and Latinx History of the United States, is on a list of hundreds of books that Texas Republicans have removed from libraries and school classrooms. The list, compiled by state Rep. Matt Krause, includes books on race, sexuality, abortion and other topics.

“It took us years, decades of struggle to even be able to integrate Chicano, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and any of those stories into our schools,” author Paul Ortiz told NBC News. .

Award-winning author Dagoberto Gilb echoed that sentiment, saying Latino authors are invisible to most literary lists. Glib participated in the Arizona Librotraficante movement after his works were banned.

The country’s oldest Hispanic publishing house, Arte Público Press, donated a box of books by Gloria Velásquez to the caravans. These books will then be donated to various nonprofits, including one that operates a mobile library, helping activists create a series of “underground” libraries where banned books can be viewed.

Velásquez’s book, Tommy Stands Alone, is also among hundreds of books banned in Texas. The book pays tribute to his cousin who lived and died of AIDS.

The Librotraficantes kick off their next chapter with a trailer in Austin on April 29 to confront Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick over his threat to revoke the tenure of professors who teach critical race theory at state-funded universities.

“Recently, Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said he plans to ‘sue professors who teach critical race theory.’ He must clarify whether he believes Mexican American history is CRT. We have become Librotraficantes a decade ago to challenge Arizona authorities banning Mexican American studies. We will not tolerate such bans in our own backyard,” Diaz said in a statement.