Chicanismo, Reloaded

Metro students strive to fill in the blank spots -- and heal old wounds -- in local Chicano history.

The two student-produced books that have resulted so far, filled with little-known photos, posters and reminiscences, make a compelling case for the academic value of the project. The first, The Symbols of Resistance, focuses on the lives of Falcon, Luis Jr. Martinez, and Los Seis de Boulder, six student activists who died in two bomb explosions in 1974. The second, The Struggle for La Sierra, presents various accounts of the forty-year battle by locals to regain rights of access to the Taylor Ranch in Costilla County.

"I think they've had a positive impact," says attorney Francisco "Kiko" Martinez, whose brother Reyes was one of Los Seis de Boulder. "When you're involved in something, you hold it close and have a different perspective from people looking at it twenty or thirty years later. They're trying to put it all in a larger context."

Maria Valdez, a San Luis historian and longtime activist in the Taylor Ranch litigation, says she was impressed at how hard the students worked. "Compared to the '60s, it's a different crowd," she says. "They couldn't tell the whole story from Denver, but one photographer did come down and got very interested in the story. And they have people mentoring them, and that adds to the whole experience."

Senior Dave Mason says the project has played a vital role in his education. "I was raised with an idealized view of history," he says. "Almost every interview I've been involved in challenges that. You wind up with more questions than you had before -- and that's good. If there's no revisionism, there's no study of history."

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