Center of Mexican American Studies
Center of Mexican American Studies

CMAS Plática: Lorrin Thomas

"The University and the Streets: the New York Roots of Black and Puerto Rican Studies"

Mon, October 7, 2013 | Chicano Culture Room (UNB 4.206), Texas Union, The University of Texas at Austin

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

This plática will explore an underappreciated outcome of the grassroots racial justice movements of the 1960s: the creation of new academic programs and departments devoted to the study of people previously marginalized in the academy. In New York City, two important realms of activism—community control of public schools and radical community organizing by youth—contributed to the momentum of activists of color on college campuses around the city, who by the late sixties began demanding more open access to higher education for minority students and the creation of Black and Puerto Rican Studies programs. The history of this transformation of the university hinged on the collaboration of African American and Puerto Rican students, along with their communities, at a time when they were rarely acknowledged as legitimate political actors. The legacies of this transformation, along with the similar emergence of Mexican American Studies programs, continue to shape Latino Studies today.

Lorrin Thomas in an associate professor in the Department of History at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on ideas about rights and equality in the twentieth century Americas. Her first book, Puerto Rican Citizen: History and Political Identity in Twentieth Century New York City (University of Chicago Press, 2010), explores the complex meanings of citizenship for Puerto Ricans in the United States. She is currently writing a book about Puerto Rican civil rights, Rethinking the Puerto Rican Movement, with Aldo Lauria Santiago. Her newest research project examines the emergence of human rights politics in Mexico in the early 1970s, a response to the dirty war that incorporated Mexican revolutionary ideology with newer claims rooted in postwar human rights advocacy.  

Sponsored by: Center for Mexican American Studies

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