Sororidad antifascista: Federica Montseny en La voz, 18 de enero de 1938

Por Ana María Díaz Marcos, Universidad de Connecticut

El 1 de enero de 1938 aparece en la “Página de la Mujer” del periódico neoyorquino La voz una felicitación de Año Nuevo que apela a la sororidad antifascista deseando salud “A las mujeres de lucha unidas contra el fascismo”. En la misma página Margarita Robles de Mendoza publica un artículo titulado “La partida y la contra partida” celebrando el asociacionismo femenino a través de “Ligas de mujeres contra el fascismo y la guerra”. El concepto de sororidad resulta central para abordar el asociacionismo y activismo de las mujeres de la colonia hispana de Nueva York en los años treinta. La “Página de la Mujer” de La voz es un ejemplo excepcional de los poderosos vínculos entre feminismo y antifascismo que se ponen de evidencia en los artículos destinados a unas lectoras retratadas en las páginas del periódico como hermanas, amigas, activistas, feministas, antifascistas, madres y mujeres modernas.

La Voz, 31 diciembre 1937

Esta felicitación de Año Nuevo alude a la agencia femenina de las “mujeres de lucha” cuyos esfuerzos trascendían cualquier tipo de frontera nacional. Las lectoras de La voz eran hispanas afincadas en Nueva York y la “Página de la mujer” se dirigía a ellas como mujeres unidas por su lengua, cultura e ideología en una sororidad transnacional que defendía causas comunes: la lucha contra el fascismo y los derechos de la mujer, la crítica antibelicista, la defensa de los valores democráticos y la protección de la infancia. En esta “Página de la mujer” publican en poco más de un año cuatro españolas de reconocido prestigio en la arena política e intelectual: Ernestina González (22-12-1937), Federica Montseny (18-1-1938), Dolores Ibárruri (17-3-1938) y Margarita Nelken (21-9-1938).1

El subtítulo del texto de Montseny subraya que “hace un llamamiento vibrante a las Mujeres de América” sostenido sobre tres pilares: la función maternal (refiriéndose a las madres españolas y americanas que desean proteger el futuro de sus hijos), la sororidad (apelando a sus “hermanas” en esta petición de ayuda de Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista) y la idea de que las mujeres tienen agencia y son luchadoras. Montseny se dirige a sus hermanas de América desde ese terreno común, con “voz de mujer y de madre, de combatientes en esta lucha”, pidiendo su apoyo para la causa republicana en un momento en que “los cuatro caballos del Apocalipsis… asolan las tierras de Iberia”. En su llamamiento se destaca que la solidaridad internacional es indispensable para combatir el fascismo, caracterizado en el texto como un peligroso enemigo universal que amenaza a esposos e hijos.  En ese contexto se volvía imprescindible la acción de la mujer, madre protectora y mujer de lucha, que tenía el deber de actuar para defender a las generaciones venideras de la amenaza fascista:

¡Ayudadnos! ¡Movilizad vuestras conciencias! ¡Agitad a favor de España y las víctimas del fascismo donde quiera que estéis! Es vuestro deber de antifascistas, de madres, de mujeres dignas, en todo momento. Al ayudarnos, empezáis a defenderos contra un enemigo que es vuestro enemigo; empezáis a proteger la vida de vuestros esposos, de vuestros hijos, mañana también amenazadas por los mismos que (…) siembran la desolación y la muerte en la mártir España. ¡Mujeres, madres de América! (…) Vuestra solidaridad moral y material; vuestra ayuda, el hálito de la fraternidad generosa es nuestro consuelo y nuestra esperanza.

La apasionada petición de Federica Montseny a comienzos de 1938 no contemplaba barreras políticas, geográficas o de clase, se dirigía a las mujeres españolas, hispanas y americanas, de todas las clases, profesiones y nacionalidades, unidas política y espiritualmente en un puente transatlántico construido sobre una sororidad cimentada en ideales de justicia, solidaridad, libertad, derecho, democracia y justicia, militando en un frente común contra el fascismo y la guerra:

Donde quiera que militéis, no importa la clase a la que pertenezcáis, si en vuestro pecho alienta un corazón noble (…) un alma justa, habéis de colocaros de nuestro lado; habéis de sentir el odio hacia los verdugos y la piedad, la fraternidad más encendida hacia las víctimas… ¡Maestras, intelectuales, empleadas, periodistas, obreras! Donde quiera que estéis, escuchadme.


Notas

1. Hoy examinamos el texto de Federica Montseny (1905-1994). De familia e ideología anarquista, Montseny ejerció el periodismo en Solidaridad Obrera, fue miembro de la CNT y llegó a ser la primera mujer ministra en España, ocupando la cartera de Sanidad y Asistencia Social en 1936.


Ana María Díaz-Marcos es catedrática de Literatura Española en el Departamento de Literaturas, Culturas y Lenguas de la Universidad de Connecticut. Sus campos de trabajo son la literatura, el teatro, el feminismo histórico y los estudios de género. Su último trabajo sobre Margarita Nelken, publicado en la revista Feminismos de la Universidad de Alicante, está disponible en el enlace:
https://rua.ua.es/dspace/bitstream/10045/111723/1/Feminismos_37_10.pdf

Feminismo y antifascismo en la “Página de la mujer” en La Voz

Por Ana María Díaz Marcos

El periódico neoyorquino La voz empieza a publicarse en julio de 1937, haciendo gala desde el primer número de un rotundo compromiso antifascista. El 11 de diciembre de 1937, con el artículo “Amigas de habla hispana” firmado por Lina Mares, se inicia la publicación de una “Página de la mujer” destinada a las mujeres hispanas interesadas -además de en los aspectos de hogar, crianza, moda y feminidad asociados históricamente con el sexo- en cuestiones políticas, feministas e intelectuales como la lucha de la democracia contra el fascismo, los derechos de la mujer, la educación, los conflictos bélicos y los derechos de la infancia.

La “Página de la mujer” editada por Mares se construye así en tribuna destinada a las “mujeres de mi raza y de mi lengua” que aúna la vocación política antifascista y feminista con otros elementos característicos de la prensa femenina más convencional: recetas, consejos de belleza, patrones y fotos de moda, publicidad, salud y estética. Esta convergencia del claro compromiso democrático antifascista y la voluntad feminista tiene una poderosa presencia en el periódico hasta mayo de 1938, cuando la firma de Lina Mares deja de aparecer en el encabezamiento de la “Página de la mujer” que pierde de inmediato esa orientación política. Durante esos seis primeros meses de publicación la página expone su ideario democrático y feminista a través de numerosos artículos que se dirigen a una mujer moderna interesada en un abanico amplio de propuestas: “lo mismo el consejo legal para la defensa de vuestros derechos de mujer, que la receta de cocina; el patrón de moda, que la manera de ataviaros o conservar vuestros encantos físicos. Lo mismo hallaréis el artículo relativo a la educación o el cuidado de vuestros hijos, que la noticia y el comentario oportunos sobre alguna conquista de nuestras hermanas en el campo de la ciencia, de la industria o en el aula universitaria”.

Con ese espíritu de sororidad Mares describe en el artículo “Amigas de habla hispana” el papel de la mujer en la sociedad, centrándose en varios ejes fundamentales: como madre en su sentido pleno y no como “mera máquina de producir hijos”, como ciudadana y como compañera del hombre, con quien comparte los mismos derechos y deberes. No es posible establecer por qué la “Página de la mujer” perdió tan pronto su orientación política y feminista pero lo cierto es que esos primeros meses el mensaje se vincula sobre todo a las colaboraciones y el trabajo editorial de Lina Mares (de quien no se tienen más datos en este momento) y de la periodista y sufragista mexicana Margarita Robles de Mendoza que vivía en Nueva York en aquellas fechas y que contribuye activamente en ese página entre enero y abril de 1938 con artículos que reflejan su vocación desde el título: «Hermanas de España, Aquí Estamos» (La Voz, 22-I-38), «La Posición de la Mujer ante el Fascismo» (La Voz, 20-I-38) y «La Mujer en la Alemania Nazi» (La Voz, 21-III-38).

Dentro del proyecto de Recuperación del Legado Escrito Hispano se prepara una galería con los artículos publicados por Margarita Robles de Mendoza en La Voz. El objetivo es que esta galería esté disponible y en acceso libre para el verano del 2021.


Ana María Díaz-Marcos es catedrática de Literatura Española en el Departamento de Literaturas, Culturas y Lenguas de la Universidad de Connecticut. Sus campos de trabajo son la literatura, el teatro, el feminismo histórico y los estudios de género. Su último trabajo sobre Margarita Nelken, publicado en la revista Feminismos de la Universidad de Alicante, está disponible en el enlace:
https://rua.ua.es/dspace/bitstream/10045/111723/1/Feminismos_37_10.pdf

Picture This: The Modesta We Never Knew

Train depot in background, black and white photograph of a woman in foreground

Tracing a relevant role model in US History

By Cecilia López

Amid the pandemic, I was invited to be a research contributor for Sarah Rafael García’s archival ethnofiction project on the life of Modesta Avila. During this time, I had moved back home after completing my first year as an undergrad student at the University of California, Berkeley. My initial reaction to Modesta Avila’s story was utter shock at how young she was when she battled for land rights. Just like Modesta, I am nineteen years old and was born in Santa Ana, California where she had familial ties and was convicted in court. As I reflect on my everyday struggles, I cannot fathom the fears and emotions that went through Modesta’s mind as she tried to sustain her livelihood. 

Photograph of Modesta featured alongside original images of the Combs House, and Cannery and Packing House. Below Avila’s photo, the inscription states: “In 1889, Modesta Avila objected to the Santa Fe railroad running through her mother’s land and hung a line of laundry across the tracks. Although she removed it before the train arrived, she was later charged and convicted of a felony, sentenced to three years in San Quentin and Died there at age 22 after serving two years of her sentence.” Photo Credit: Cecilia Lopez

Modesta Avila, a Mexican American a folk heroine, is known for her resistance against the Southern Pacific Railroad during the 1800s. Born and raised in San Juan Capistrano, California, Modesta lived in her family’s home that laid fifteen feet away from the railroad tracks. The many disruptions caused by the train impeded on her life and ability to engage in daily activities, such as caring for her hens. After voicing her concerns and still seeing no necessary measures being enacted or even considered by the railroad company, Modesta took matters into her own hands by placing a laundry line post across the railroad tracks. Along with this physical barrier, she attached a note: “This land belongs to me. And if the railroad wants to run here, they will have to pay me ten thousand dollars.” Shortly after performing this act of protest, Modesta was arrested for the obstruction of the railroad and would face three years of incarceration at San Quentin Prison.

Although I am frustrated by the injustice Modesta faced, I am very honored to now share her story with others. During the month of July 2020, I had the opportunity to visit and photograph Modesta’s house as a way to document her memory. Along with my parents and two younger sisters, I traveled from Santa Ana to San Juan Capistrano, California. My parents, who have lived in Santa Ana for over 40 years, were intrigued by Modesta’s poignant story, yet they questioned why no one ever spoke about her in the community. Upon arriving, my first inclination was to observe the space and walk around the area before shooting any photographs. The entrance exhibits a memorial wall that frames the trunks of the evergreen trees that wrap around Los Rios. This adorned stone wall lies near a neighborhood of native hummingbird sage, honeysuckles and prickly cactus with vibrant ruby red tunas. Centered in the middle of the memorial is a plaque with Modesta’s black and white mugshot from San Quentin Prison when she was arrested for the obstruction of the railroad. Following the memorial is a dirt path that leads toward Modesta’s home, now known as the Hummingbird Cafe or Combs House. Built in 1865, the Combs House was moved to Los Rios Street in 1878 when Forster City, south of San Clemente, failed and was later abandoned. The name pays homage to its original owner, Jack Combs, who served as an early town constable and lived on the property.

Located on 26711 Verdugo Street, Modesta Avila’s house quickly stands out as the only historical site right next to the train tracks and Metrolink station. Her house now serves as a tourist attraction that serves Greek and American food. Photo Credit: Cecilia Lopez

After researching Modesta for months, it was fascinating to visit her home, yet troubling to be there knowing how her story would ultimately end. While walking past her brown wooden house, I paused to reimagine how this space once looked. I felt that it was crucial to fully immerse myself in the environment to visualize how Modesta’s mid 19th century home might’ve looked, as well as the other living conditions that surrounded her. Despite not being able to enter the interior of her home, I was able to explore the house quite well and witness how the train tracks were literally right outside her front porch. The whistles of the train rang in my ears while the aged wooden planks of Modesta’s house creaked and echoed like the sounds of distant cries. It felt hauntingly surreal to take each step into what felt like another realm, where Modesta was standing right beside me.

The Los Rios Street District is the oldest and continually occupied residential street in California. Californian plants, such as cactus and succulents surround the area to provide a variant of diverse colors and wildlife. Photo Credit: Cecilia Lopez

I hope that my photographs allow the viewer to place themselves in the shoes of Modesta, as well as question the institutions or forces of power and privilege that push members of our society out to the margins. After recognizing how Modesta’s story had been sexualized, criminalized or simply forgotten, I made it my personal and visual objective to shoot as much detail as possible, thus providing multiple alternative perspectives. Unfortunately, many people in Santa Ana and the surrounding community are still unaware of Modesta’s narrative due to the lack of archived information and history that has documented her memory. Historians such as Richard Brock and his work, Modesta Again: Setting the Record Straight have countered Modesta’s narrative by criminalizing and sexualizing her . While the responsibility of a historian involves telling a more “accurate” sense of the past from an unbiased position—this is not the case. The history taught in standard US classrooms is dominated by an idealistic Westernized perspective told by the white cisgender male perspective. The counter narrative provided by Modesta reciprocates the equal oppressive and damaging behavior expressed in court that did not grant her a fair trial or the opportunity to voice her story as its authentic truth. And here I am, a nineteen year old in 2021 re-presenting history for all of us to learn more about the truths of Modesta Avila’s life.


Cecilia López is a photographer, research coordinator and literacy tutor. She is an advocate for human trafficking survivors; her creative work intersects social justice themes with photographic documentation. She is a second year undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Sociology with a focus on Chicanx Studies and Digital Humanities. Currently, she is a research contributor for the 2020-2021 USLDH Mellon-Funded Grant: Modesta Avila Obstructing Development Since 1889, an archival project that documents the life of Modesta Avila, under the direction of Sarah Rafael García.  

Collecting and Re-presenting US History: Digital Storytelling as Archives

Woman standing in front of a powerpoint screen

By Sarah Rafael García

As an adjunct professor teaching Ethnofiction Through Contemporary Narratives at Chapman University, every semester I tell the following story on the first day of class:

In late 2019, I arrived to meet with Dr. Gabriela Baeza Ventura after procrastinating for months and while carrying a backpack full of books and snacks. I procrastinated to meet with her and loaded my backpack with too many things because I thought I would spend six to eight hours beating my head against my laptop. You laugh, but you should all know that I went to undergrad before the internet existed. As you can imagine, I’m not tech friendly at all. But what I learned in a couple of hours, besides how to create a virtual timeline, was that the digital humanities are also abbreviated as DH and not about elaborate techy skills. DH is about the passion to share knowledge — to provide information without the barriers of financial constraints and paywalls. Dr. Baeza Ventura became a relevant role-model — not because we are from the same generation — but because she’s a Latina passing on knowledge in order for all of us to be able to collect, preserve and re-present our own history in the US. And now I’m passing on those skills to you, I can’t wait to see what you teach others.

After a year of navigating through a pandemic and witnessing an invasion of the US Capitol by white supremacists, I find myself lacking motivation to continue creating. But as a Chicana born at la frontera and first generation everything, I also know more than ever that Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities need to continue to evolve and rise through our various platforms. I started to incorporate digital humanities into literary projects in 2016. As a MFA graduate and writer who was struggling to sustain myself through employment and obtain acknowledgement as a scholar, I brainstormed on how I could fortify my work while still remaining creative, critical and countering the national headlines.

I felt it was imperative to be strategic on how I passed on research and information to my audience. I didn’t want to develop a textbook or seminar or false news. I also prioritized accessibility through the use of diverse languages (regional dialects, Spanish and non-academic) and the visual arts. This led to my first collaborative multimedia project SanTana’s Fairy Tales, which included storytelling through music, visual arts and digital archives produced via powerpoint and presented on electronic devices in a live exhibition and accessible via a website.

As a result of that experience and the impact it made in Mexican-American Studies classrooms, I couldn’t imagine completing another publication without support from documented resources or archives. It was through the University of Houston Katherine G. McGovern College for the Arts and Project Row Houses Fellowship in 2019 that I got to visit and learn from Arte Público Press’ Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program (Recovery) and US Latino Digital Humanities Program (USLDH).

With the help of Recovery/USLDH, I created my first virtual timeline for my living archival project, Reality Check 3rd Ward. It was the first fellowship program that allowed me to establish research methods to collect and preserve BIPOC history and culture while drawing parallels from regional BIPOC social justice movements to national politics. The combined mentorship also led me to design an undergraduate course. Ethnofiction Through Contemporary Narratives is a research and writing workshop using digital humanities and creative writing to trace BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and feminist history from the 1960s to present time. The course is open to students studying history, anthropology, creative writing, ethnic studies, women and gender studies, and humanities in order to pilot how they each will interpret US history while also learning to enhance and document their research through the arts and digital humanities. Students are expected to complete a historical virtual timeline, multimedia project in one semester. Over the last two semesters, I have witnessed a new generation of students accomplish more in three months than what I accomplished in a one-year fellowship.

Modesta Avila Obstructing Development Since 1889 (#MAOD)

Artistic rendition of Modesta Avila.
(Image credit: Carla y Patricia Zárate Suárez)

Through each past experience, I continued to research Modesta Avila. She served as muse for one of my stories in SanTana’s Fairy Tales and learning about her then taught me how to dig deeper for more unsung heroes while conducting research for Third Ward Houston. She became my research topic for the USLDH Mellon-Funded Grant: Modesta Avila Obstructing Development Since 1889 (#MAOD).

To me, Modesta Avila has become even more relevant these last few weeks. As a Mexican American who obstructed development of the railroad system in Southern California in the late 1800s, her place in history has been perpetuated as a criminal. She is the first felon out of Orange County who was initially convicted in Santa Ana and became the first woman admitted into the San Quentin State Prison. Her mugshot has become as iconic as the Australian 19 Crimes wine labels showcasing British prisoners through augmented reality. She’s known by some but none have actually heard her story without her mugshot establishing their point of view.

The majority of the publications available before 1920 are newspaper clippings and court documents, all of which cover the points of view of city officials and court proceedings in Santa Ana. Most recently, like in the last 15-20 years, there seems to be a fascination about Modesta currently existing as an urban legend near the San Juan Capistrano train station and to many in Santa Ana she has provided inspiration as a late 1800’s youth activist fighting against development. However, the majority of her history has only been published under white scholars and some even go as far as minimizing her purpose to merely a nuisance.

Follow the #MAOD Twitter account at @ModestaAvilaOD

#MAOD is a bilingual platform for collecting and sharing relevant history with a specific focus on Latinx, women and regional narratives in English and Spanish. #MAOD builds movement culture by preserving and re-presenting history from a people of color point of view. Combined, the archives and published creative work will also present a bilingual open-source book through APP Digital that engages a broader audience through diverse language, scholarly work and the digital humanities. With the collaborative research produced alongside undergraduate student and photographer Cecilia Lopez, we will transpose Modesta Avila’s image from criminal to digital storyteller. The digital enhancement is supported in part by multi-media artist Carla Zarate Suarez and transmedia artist Reema, jointly they will create the graphic illustrations and augmented reality for digital storytelling. Most recently, Modesta Avila has resurfaced in Twitter– collectively we have reconstituted her image to demonstrate a story from an alternative perspective. Her narrative includes black and white photos as regional documentation. #MAOD is the first multi-media scholarly publication of Modesta Avila that is collected, preserved and re-presented by two Chicanas from SanTana: Sarah Rafael García and Cecilia Lopez.

And yet over the last few weeks media headlines share how white supremacists rioted and vandalized the White House. Their actions have not been held accountable as a criminal act; they continue to gain attention and live their lives. This, again, leads me back to Modesta Avila– who was convicted and sent to San Quentin State Prison for hanging up a clothesline across railroad tracks. As a woman of color and Mexican American myself, born in the US, I have experienced firsthand how I too have become a nuisance to the white hierarchical models of this nation. Tracing Modesta’s history is affirming and also provides a method to continue to teach the next BIPOC generation to tell their own history– the digital humanities is the platform that has the potential to set the record straight and elevate our work and US history virtually and globally.


Sarah Rafael García is a writer, community educator, and performance ethnographer. She’s the author of Las Niñas and SanTana’s Fairy Tales, co-editor of pariahs writing from outside the margins and the forthcoming sci-fi anthology Speculative Fiction for Dreamers as well as founder of Barrio Writers and LibroMobile. Currently, she splits her time between shipping books out to loyal readers across the nation, teaching Ethnofiction Through Contemporary Narratives, and developing an archival ethnofiction project for the life of Modesta Avila as a 2020 USLDH Mellon-Funded Grantee. Follow her on Twitter: @SarahRafaGarcia.

Discovering USLDH through the Story of LULAC

LULAC red, white, and blue logos

By Ariatna Vaglienty Gonzalez

My name is Ariatna Vaglienty Gonzalez and I am an undergraduate Political Science student at the University of Houston. My time with Arte Público Press begins in the Fall of 2020. I was in the process of completing a Mexican American Studies course with Dr. Lorena Gauthereau when she informed my classmates and I about an internship opportunity at Recovery. I knew little about Arte Público or Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery), other than what was briefed by Dr. Gauthereau, but of course, with some research, I grew interested in the program and chose to apply. Very quickly after my interview process with Dr. Linda García Merchant, who would later become my mentor, I met the rest of the team at Recovery, who all welcomed me with open arms.

For my first project, I worked closely with Dr. García Merchant to proof and revise a digital timeline dedicated to highlighting the history of the Latino civil rights organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) timeline. In 2019, my fellow UH undergraduate and previous recipient of the LULAC Council 60 Research and Scholarship Award, Katerin Zapata, began compiling research and creating the initial version of the timeline. We analyzed its contents and captions and took the steps necessary to ensure web accessibility, specifically to those with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities.[1] An essential component of the timeline is its appeal to all the senses using diverse forms of technology. Users have access to a wide range of information through various types of videos, pictures and links. In addition to this, the timeline itself is easily operable to accommodate users with limited range of motion and different color combinations were explored to benefit users with visual impairments. Dr. García Merchant and I ensured the content was concise and also made available in Spanish to suit bilingual speakers. Previous to my time at Recovery, my experience in digital humanities was limited. However, this was hardly a concern because Dr. García Merchant did not hesitate to provide her guidance as needed. She ultimately laid the foundation for me to utilize various digital resources and, along the way, taught me techniques to give the reader an overall engaging learning experience. 

LULAC red, white, and blue logo
LULAC Timeline

I knew LULAC as an advocacy organization that was significant to members of the Latinx/Hispanic community, but unfortunately, this was the extent of my knowledge. I was aware of a few of the lawsuits that set critical legal precedents, such as Salvatierra v. Del Rio and Mendez v. Westminster, but only relative to other civil rights proceedings such as Brown v. Board of Education. As I worked on the timeline, I learned about the various councils located across Texas, including Council 60 in my hometown of Houston, Texas. I researched prominent figures like Tony Campos, Dolores Guerrero, Willie Velasquez, Belen Robles, and countless others who were pioneers in the advancement of the Latinx/Hispanic community in the United States. I hope that through this timeline and the many other projects at Recovery, individuals may have the opportunity to learn more about organizations like LULAC and hear about those stories in history not often told.

1970 slide on LULAC timeline

It is no doubt that the pandemic has had a considerable impact on many of our lives. In a few words, I can confidently say that this year was by far the most strenuous time of my life. I figured that my entry into the Recovery program during the pandemic would affect the quality of my experience. While I am sure that the circumstances were very different pre-COVID, I would not say that my experience was in any way worse or less than. If anything, I felt like Recovery was a positive outlet for me. 

After my first meeting with everyone, I remember having an overwhelming feeling of joy. I will never forget how much it meant to be in the same virtual room as so many incredibly accomplished men and women. I was surrounded by professors and professionals at the top of their fields, and when they spoke, it reminded me of home. I saw a bit of myself in them, and for the first time, I witnessed the language of my mother and grandmother being used in an academic workplace. Ultimately, they are who I aspire to be, not only for myself but also for my community. As a woman, a Mexican immigrant, and a first-generation college student, it is motivating to see this representation in academia. Working alongside everyone at Recovery for these past couple of weeks has been truly inspiring and a valuable learning experience that I will always carry with me.

**Stay tuned for the public release of the LULAC Timeline**

Further Reading

“English Plus Versus English Only.” League of United Latin American Citizens, https://lulac.org/advocacy/issues/english_vs_spansih/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2020.

LULAC. lulac.org.

Olivas, Michael A. Colored Men and Hombres Aquí: Hernández V. Texas and the Emergence of Mexican-American Lawyering. Arte Público Press, 2006.

Orozco, Cynthia. Pioneer of Mexican-American Civil Rights: Alonso S. Perales. Arte Público Press, 2020.

Sánchez, Claudio. “Tougher Times For Latino Students? History Says They’ve Never Had It Easy.” National Public Radio, 15 Nov. 2016, https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/11/15/502011688/tougher-times-for-latino-students-history-says-theyve-never-had-it-easy. Accessed 08 Nov. 2020.


Ariatna Vaglienty Gonzalez is an undergraduate at the University of Houston, where she is majoring in Political Science. She is the current recipient of the LULAC Council 60 Research and Scholarship Award.


Notes

Acción de Gracias 2020

Photo of coffee cup, blanket, pumpkin, and fall leaves

Por Elías David Navarro

Sin duda que algunas tradiciones contienen elementos debatibles en sus orígenes. Como latinas y latinos, no podemos dejar de notar que el Día de Acción de Gracias ha involucrado muchas cosas no siempre favorables para todos. Por ello, estas celebraciones nos desafían a repensar en cómo celebrarlas y, en cierta forma, resignificarlas personalmente.

Es en el Día de Acción de Gracias donde los latinos nos unimos con una actitud agradecida por nuestras raíces. Voltear a ver a todos aquellos y todas aquellas que han estado aquí antes que nosotros.

Agradecer el esfuerzo en el campo, en los comercios, en la industria de servicios. Pero también en los trabajos por visibilizar una cultura, una comunidad y una identidad que forman parte de un plano mucho más grande, el alma de este país. Mostrar cómo somos vertebras de una sociedad que inició con migrantes.

Jovita Idár (1885-1946)

Como Research Assistant en Arte Publico Press, he tenido la oportunidad de conocer algunos de las obras con las que los latinos han contribuido en Estados Unidos. No son pocos, pero tampoco son solamente aquellos que se conocen. A través de la investigación, hemos encontrado historias de latinas/os que han influido en el fortalecimiento de la cultura estadounidense en todos los ámbitos. Mujeres, como Jovita Idár, que fue punta de lanza para que el sufragio femenino fuera una realidad en este país. Ingenieros, científicas, intelectuales, maestras, un sinfín de profesiones que muestran que todo lo bueno de este país ha sido forjado por manos de todos los colores, de creencias variadas y con tradiciones que representan a todas las culturas que aquí cohabitan.

Es esta una razón por la que agradecer, el camino arduo que latinas y latinos han ido abriendo para que los que estamos y los que vienen, transitemos sendas más accesibles, con más oportunidades para todas y todos. Dar las gracias porque, de no haber sido por quienes estuvieron antes que nosotros, no tendríamos la posibilidad de acceder a oportunidades cada vez mejores y a ámbitos cada vez más diversos.

Nos queda la tarea de dar significados más justos y plurales a todas las tradiciones que aquí confluyen. A vivir en esta cultura hecha de culturas.

Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias para todas, todos, todes.


Elías David Navarro estudia el Doctorado de Escritura Creativa en la University of Houston y es Asistente de investigación (Research Assistant) en Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. Es poeta y escritor. También es editor y miembro fundador de la editorial Suburbano. Sus intereses incluyen a la literatura fractal y su capacidad de abordar distintos temas desde esta característica literaria. Su trabajo poético puede verse en el libro Instantes (Alja Ediciones, 2017) y en la revista https://suburbano.net/author/dcampos/.

Working at Recovery: An Undergrad’s Perspective

By Katerin Zapata

Hi, my name is Katerin Zapata and I’m a Liberal Studies Major with minors in Creative Writing, Sociology, and Spanish. This is my second year as an undergraduate student at the University of Houston (UH) and I expect to graduate in 2021. Shortly after graduating from high school, I interned with Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage thanks to SERJobs for Progress’s summer internship program in 2019.  SERJobs is a nonprofit community organization that offers education and training opportunities.

In the summer of 2019, I assisted graduate student researchers in the creation of a Visual Bibliography of Hispanic Periodicals in the United States, a digital mapping project that visualizes the publication of Hispanic newspapers in the US dating from colonial times to the 1960s. My first day in the office was a culture shock, as I had never been in a place among professors, doctors, and scholars who spoke more Spanish than English. I had never been in an academic space in which I didn’t have to anglicize or shorten my name. I didn’t even know a center dedicated to the recovery of Hispanic newspapers, books, and academic work existed, much less only 5 minutes away from the neighborhood I’d grown up in.

Thanks to Dr. Carolina Villarroel and LULAC (the League of United Latin American Citizens), the following spring (2020), I was awarded a scholarship to work on digital projects related to Latino history. I gained an immense amount of experience using digital tools, such as Timeline JS, and doing research. In February 2020, I attended the Recovery Conference, my first academic conference. There, I presented my digital timeline project on the history of LULAC and met scholars of all disciplines. I even met LULAC historian, Dr. Cynthia Orozco. It was inspiring to meet her and many scholars like her who have been doing the work of digitizing and recovering history for a long time. 

President of the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce, Frances Castañeda Dyess (right), awards Katerin Zapata (center) a LULAC Scholarship at the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Conference as Arte Público Press Executive Editor, Dr. Gabriela Baeza Ventura (left) announces the award. (February 21, 2020, University of Houston Downtown.)

My experiences at Arte Público have changed the course of my studies. I started as a sociology major but Arte Público exposed me to different fields of study and helped me realize I could accomplish more than I dreamed. Another reason I love working at Arte Público and with the Recovery Program is because of the strong women who work there and mentor me; they are a powerhouse and have continuously supported my academic journey. There is no place like Arte Público and if you are interested in any humanities field and/or Hispanic recovery work then don’t hesitate to reach out, even as an undergraduate student. Though I am often the youngest person in the room and the least experienced, my ideas are valued, I am seen, and I am encouraged. 

I want to continue working with Recovery because, as a Salvadoran first-generation student, I realize the importance of uplifting voices that need to be heard. My hope is that through the support of the incredible staff and researchers at APP, I can develop as a writer, transform into a confident scholar in the digital humanities, and continue growing as a human being.

Further reading

For more information on SERJobs opportunities for young adults, please visit: https://serhouston.org/programs-and-services/youth/

Visual Bibliography of Hispanic Periodicals in the United States. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. https://recoveryapp.github.io/index.html.


Katerin Zapata is an undergraduate at the University of Houston, where she is majoring in Liberal Studies and minoring in Creative Writing, Sociology, and Spanish. She is the 2020 Media History Digital Library intern at Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery), funded by a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). In 2019, she was the recipient of the LULAC Scholarship that funded her research and training at Recovery.

Reflections on APP Digital

By María Sánchez Carbajo

Green book cover
Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, Vol. 1

This spring and summer, I had the opportunity to collaborate on the Arte Público Press Digital (an instance of Manifold Scholarship) to convert the first volume of Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage into a digital publication. My tasks included correcting typographic errors and identifying words (people, cities, historical titles of texts, historical events, etc …) to be hyperlinked. Selecting such words was crucial, especially considering one of Recovery Program’s mission statements: “give relevance, voice and agency to the individuals and historical events that have been deliberately hidden and removed from the history of what we know today as the United States.” As a result of the efforts of the Recovery Program team, keywords found in volume, like Chicano, Mexican-American, and Teatro Campesino, can now not only be read, but also connected to academic context provided by the work of researchers and scholars.

This is a great tool for Mexican American studies courses offered at colleges and universities nationwide, as well as for the Hispanic culture in general. Granting public access to the first volume of the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage will make a big difference in two important ways. First, all the contents and articles are immediately available to the general public, meaning that the content is readily accessible via the Internet. And second, as a result of the hyperlinks and new interactive features, such as group annotations, the learning process becomes more collaborative between educators and students. 

I was especially interested in Genaro M. Padilla’s “Recovering Mexican-American Autobiography;” Antonia I. Castañeda’s “Memory, Language and Voice of Mestiza Women on the Northern Frontier” and Rosaura Sánchez’s “Nineteenth-Century Californio Narratives.”  Padilla highlights the memories of the Mexicans who were colonized by the United States after 1848, which reveal the struggle, fear, resentment, and cultural clash they experienced. The recovery of such manuscripts by scholars of Latino history allow researchers and students to understand the historical presence of Latinos in what is now the US and to confirm the existence of a clear resistance against Anglo American social and cultural hegemony.

Castañeda’s essay describes how gender, social class, and race restrictions have greatly limited the presence of women in colonial literature. As the author states, because many women during colonial times were illiterate, there are very few documents written by them. Consequently, Castañeda shows how women expressed themselves by studying alternative sources, such as oral, visual and other non-written materials.

Sánchez’s article reveals the voices of Californios from the Bancroft Collection, located at the University of California, Berkeley. This collection was a huge historiography project undertaken by the Hubert H. Bancroft Publishing Company during the nineteenth century that had previously silenced the Californios perspectives. Manuscripts and interviews with Californios, who were converted from native inhabitants into conquered people, represented a dangerous counter hegemonic version of the Spanish and Mexican periods of California. Such testimonies  were not easily published at the time by the Anglo-American company.

Thanks to nonstop technological advances, spreading the word of the importance of the Hispanic culture in the history and cultural legacy of the United States is now a more attainable goal.

Resources

Arte Público Press Digital.

Gutiérrex, Ramón and Genaro Padilla, eds. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, vol. 1. Houston, Arte Público Press. Arte Público Press Digital. https://artepublicopress.manifoldapp.org/projects/recovery-vol-1


María Sánchez Carbajo is a PhD student in the Hispanic Studies Department at the University of Houston and a Research Fellow with Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. Her research interests include Latina women’s writings in newspapers published in the US, as well as the Spanish presence in Florida after the Spanish-American war (tobacco factories and “sociedades mutualistas” in Tampa). 

Intern Reflections on Archival Research and Jesús Galíndez Suárez

By Melany Cabrera, North Houston Early College High School

Seven weeks have passed since I started working as an intern for the Recovering the U.S Hispanic Literary Heritage Program and Arte Público Press. I can safely and surely say that I will leave with newfound knowledge and experience. Although my internship was virtual, I did not think it was any less rigorous. I took it as a serious job and dedicated my time to doing research that will assuredly cause impact by bringing the literature of disenfranchised Hispanic/Latino authors to mass audiences. 

At the beginning of my research agenda I had some troubles, but as I asked Dr. Carolina Villarroel and Dr. Lorena Gauthereau questions to clear my doubts; my troubles slowly began to cease. I wanted to be careful with how I input and handled data in the data spreadsheet I was assigned. I was also wary of the information I found online since I did not want to input false information. So, to avoid any mishaps I was careful from where and how I obtained data. When I obtained information about a person I would cross check the information with another source to be sure. If I was not sure of the information that I found, then I did not input it in the spreadsheet. Many times, the information was not directly given so I had to use context clues.

Through this research process I was able to get a sense of how journalists, writers, poets, and people from other professions were treated in the past centuries and compare it to the present. Not only was this internship a great opportunity to expand my knowledge but also to strengthen my research skills and work ethic.

Black and white photo of a man wearing a white coat
Jesús Galíndez Suárez, photo from EcuRed

While researching, I came across the writer Jesús Galíndez Suárez. I immediately became intrigued with his story when I read that he mysteriously disappeared. Galíndez Suárez was born in 1915 in Amurrio, Spain. Early in his life he was a part of the Basque Nationalist Party and a loyalist in the Spanish Civil War. He then moved to the Dominican Republic for 6 years. As he began to investigate Rafael Trujillo, a Dominican dictator–who was infamously known for being corrupt and brutal–and his government, he uncovered secrets and fled to New York in 1946 for his safety as he felt threatened. In New York he pursued a doctorate in Political Science and worked at Columbia University. Galíndez Súarez continued his investigation on Trujillo and soon published his findings in the Hemisphere’s best-known and widely circulated journals. For this reason, he became a target and enemy of Trujillo’s state. In 1956, he published his book titled The Era of Trujillo, a case study of the Spanish-American dictatorship. In the same year, just as negotiations for its publication in English had begun, Galíndez Súarez disappeared on the night of March 12.

Published investigations indicated Galíndez Súarez was drugged by Dominican agents and smuggled out of the United States illegally by a light plane piloted by also kidnapped Gerald Murphy, who also disappeared. It was in Dominican Republic where both Galíndez Súarez and Gerald Murphy were seemingly murdered: Suárez for being outspoken with regard to Rafel Trujillo’s dictatorship and Gerald Murphy for being a witness. To cover the apparent murder of Murphy, Trujillo’s men also murdered Murphy’s friend and fellow pilot, Octavio de la Maza Vásquez. The Military Intelligence Service of the Dominican Republic forged de la Maza Vásquez’s suicide note; the note insinuated that he had killed Murphy and himself to end their love affair. For some in the U.S Senate, their deaths or disappearances were clear indicators that the US government should withdraw their support of Trujillo. Trujillo’s image was further tarnished by the negative media coverage he received as the main suspect and cause of the three lost lives. Trujillo attempted to clear or lighten his image by offering large bribes to influential U.S citizens and spreading propaganda. Some may say Galíndez Súarez caused more impact when he disappeared then when he was alive, nonetheless he certainly caused an influential uproar.

I can say that Galíndez Súarez was incredibly brave for voicing out what many others surely wanted to reveal. Since the moment he began his investigation, he knowingly became a target. I can confidently say that there were many journalists and writers like Galíndez Súarez. They were conscious of the many risks their actions could have but continued in hopes of achieving reform. In current society, it is not as taboo or risky to reveal secrets or uncover what many want to keep in the shadows, especially elites, but there are still consequences. Bribery happens more often than death threats to prevent instigators from releasing information to the public but of course this depends on a country’s level of scrutiny. The more scrutiny a country has, the more secrets it covers, and the higher risks whistleblowers have vice versa. 

To end this blog, I would like to thank my two supervisors who provided me with the resources to allow my research agenda. I was able to expand my skill set and get a better understanding on how databases aid research. I will take everything I learned from this internship to my next. My path towards my ideal career began with this internship and will continue moving forward until I become the successful woman I expect myself to become.

Bibliography

Caudillos: Dictators in Spanish America. (1995). United Kingdom: University of Oklahoma Press.

Hall, M. R. (2000). Sugar and power in the Dominican Republic : Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Trujillos. United Kingdom: Greenwood Press.

“Jesús Galíndez Suárez.” EcuRed. https://www.ecured.cu/. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.


Melany Cabrera is a 2020 Bank of America Summer Intern at the University of Houston’s Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. She is a rising senior at North Houston Early College High School (NHECHS). She is interested in becoming a lawyer to help underrepresented communities. She applied to this internship to gain work experience for her future career path. 

The Bank of America internship program is a partnership between SERJobs and Bank of America to provide summer work experience for young professionals aged 16-24 who live in Houston. Arte Público Press is among several of the nonprofit organizations that have hosted summer interns.

Join us at Houston Archives Bazaar

HOUSTON, Texas, Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) — Join the Archivists of the Houston Area for the second biennial Houston Archives Bazaar on Sunday, November 17 from 10am to 2pm at White Oak Music Hall, 2715 N Main Street, Houston TX 77089. This free, family event is an opportunity for Houston communities to engage with historical collections and resources. Discover local histories, share your stories, and learn to preserve them! Featuring interactive activities and exhibitors from over twenty Houston and Gulf-Coast area archives, at the Houston Archives Bazaar (HAB) visitors will learn about the Bayou City’s diverse and extensive historical resources in the Resource Gallery; have a conversation and connect with knowledgeable archivists at the Ask-An-Archivist station; bring up to five personal items and gain hands-on experience digitizing family photographs, letters, documents, and other treasured personal materials at the Digital Memories Booth; and learn preservation and wet salvage techniques in demonstrations by TX-CERA. Complete your Passport to Houston Archives to win giveaways and more! Visitors are encouraged to bring items to contribute to the Houston Time Capsule, which will be “buried” under a 30-year restriction in the AHA! records at the Woodson Research Center. Visitors are also encouraged to share a story about Houston in the Oral History Storytelling Booth, contributing to the growing collection of HAB oral histories that began in 2017. The Archivists of the Houston Area is a professional organization that exists to increase contact and communication between archivists and those working with records, to provide opportunities for professional development, and to promote archival repositories and activities in the greater Houston, Texas area.

For more information, visit the website at www.houstonarchivesbazaar.org, or contact houstonarchives@gmail.com. See you there!

Special thanks to HAB2019 sponsors:

Repository Level: Woodson Research Center, Rice University; Texas Historical Records Advisory Board; University of Houston Libraries

Collection Level: Houston Community College Office of Records Management Series Level: Society of Southwest Archivists

In-kind: Brazos Bookstore, Copy.com, Hollinger Metal Edge, Preservation Houston, White Oak Music Hall, Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage