13, 2012) - The Librotraficante Caravan will travel from Houston, Texas, to
Tucson, Ariz., carrying a payload of contraband books, creating networks of
Underground Libraries and leaving community resources in its wake. One of many
responses to Arizona’s unconstitutional laws prohibiting Mexican-American
Studies, the Librotraficante Caravan has captured the imagination and hearts of
activists, writers, educators, and students from all walks of life who want to
preserve freedom of speech.
“Every great movement
is sparked by outrage at a deep cultural offense,” said Tony Diaz ,
founder of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, which has led the
charge, “When we heard that Tucson Unified School District administrators not
only prohibited Mexican-American Studies, but then walked into classrooms, and
in front of young Latino students, during class time, removed and boxed up
books by our most beloved authors - that was too much. This offended us down to
our soul. We had to respond.”
Diaz added, “With their
record of anti-immigrant legislation, politicians in Arizona have become
experts in making humans illegal. We did not do enough to stop that, thus that
anti-immigrant legislation spread to other states such as Alabama and Georgia.
Now, these same legislators want to make thoughts illegal. If we allow this to
happen, these laws, too, will spread. Other branches of ethnic studies will be
prohibited, and other states will follow suit.”
With its radio program
and blockbuster literary showcases, Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having
Their Say has 13 years of experience promoting Latino literature and
literacy with authors and thinkers from across the country. This once informal
alliance of artists, activists, educators, and professionals has galvanized to
create cornerstone structures for a network that will remain in place for
future causes as well.
Banned writers have
embraced the caravan and those that will participate along the route include Sandra
Cisneros , who kicked off our fundraising efforts by making a generous
donation; Guggenheim Fellow Dagoberto Gilb , whose work recently
appeared in the New Yorker and Harpers simultaneously; and best
selling author Luis Alberto Urrea , with multiple titles found on the
banned book list was the first to enthusiastically support the project through
The caravan is intended
1. Raise awareness of
the prohibition of the Mexican-American Studies Program and the removal of
books from classrooms.
2. Promote banned
authors and their contributions to American Literature.
3. Celebrate diversity.
Children of the American Dream must unite to preserve the civil rights of all
4. Create a network of
resources for art, literature and activism.
Libraries: Librotraficantes will donate copies of the banned books a local
nonprofit in Houston, San Antonio, Albuquerque and Tucson. These sites will not
only be given copies of the banned titles, but from now on, all multicultural
authors are encouraged to mail copies of their books to these sites when they
are published, so that our community will always have access to our literature.
2. Teach-ins and a
Supplanted Book List: Workshops that include free curriculum guides with
literary excerpts and lesson plans that can be used in class and immediately
applied to other works.
3. Network of Librotraficantes across the country: This is a
case of new media saving the classic media of books. Had Arizona done this ten
years ago, we most likely would not have heard about it until it had impacted a
second generation of youth. However, because of new technologies and the
network of writers and activists who are communicating on multimedia platforms,
we were not only able to hear about Arizona’s actions, but to also utilize new
media tools to organize some classic activist strategies to respond - from now