Chicano Studies Department Receives Endowment

Monica Marie Dube, Staff Writer

The Mesa College Chicano Studies Department received an endowment contract in the amount of $80,000 during the Second Annual Gracia Molina de Pick Feminist Lecture Series.

“Intelligence, talent and skill is not defined by your gender, but rather your individual ability,” said adjunct professor Victoria Chavez, when introducing the panel of speakers at the event on March 11.

The lecture series was started last year as an annual event that would recognize de Pick for her contributions to the Chicana movement.  For over 60 years, de Pick has served as an educator and community activist for women’s equality, labor rights and immigrant rights.

This year the lecture series also marked the signing of an endowment contract to Mesa’s Chicano Studies Department, which was finalized on March 7 by de Pick, Mesa College President Pamela Luster and Chicano Studies Department Chair Cesar Lopez.

Believed to be one of the largest endowments for a community college Chicano Studies department in the country, this fund will support the annual lecture series and establish a scholarship in de Pick’s name.  Lopez stated that this endowment fund “represents Gracia’s wisdom to reinvest her hard-earned money into the ongoing work of Chicana and Chicano studies at our community college as a tool for community education and community empowerment.”

The panel guests included Professor Dionne Espinoza, who is with Cal State Los Angeles’ Departments of Chicano Studies and Liberal Studies, Ginna Rodriguez, who serves as a staff member for San Diego Councilmember David Alvarez, and artist Patricia Aguayo, who is active within the Chicana community.

The lecture series’ guest of honor was Tommie Camarillo, who has made invaluable contributions to the community, starting in the 1970s when she challenged police and bulldozers as she fought to create Chicano Park in Barrio Logan.

As Chavez continued her emotional introduction, she recognized that Camarillo “has done so much on the local level to keep the spirit of feminism alive, the spirit of the Chicana movement alive, and moving in a positive direction to the future.”  Currently spearheading the Chicano Park Celebration, Camarillo also oversees various committees, including the Chicano Park Steering Committee.

As Espinoza shed light on the history of the Chicana movement during her portion of the lecture, she remarked, “It was Chicana activism in the Chicano movement of the 60s and 70s that has probably been most formative for our contemporary sense of identity.” She added, “The movement was a staging area for a new generation of Chicana leadership and community activism.”

This new generation that Espinoza refers to has galvanized ongoing efforts and interest within the Chicana community, as evidenced by her fellow panel speakers Aguayo and Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who worked extensively on Chicano Park’s mural documentation program, praised Camarillo for “her passion and hard work for commemorating the struggles that Chicanos faced in San Diego.” Similarly, Aguayo thanked Camarillo for her sacrifices and stated, ”You have been and continue to be an essential part of our history.  The legacy you have created will take the next generation of Chicanas to a level we can only imagine.”

Although the lecture series primarily focused on Chicana feminism and activism, the audience was left with the idea of equality for all, as Chavez said, “We recognize that the ideals of feminism can be applied to both men and women. Men and women struggle together in the fight, both locally and globally, toward creating a more just world for all of us.”