The Generation of the 1970s: A Light in the Crisis
By José Cuello, Chicano-Boricua Studies, Department of History,
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Wayne State University
In the midst of the latest greatest crisis in Higher Education—tuition has skyrocketed and students are not being educated to the best of their abilities—it becomes even more important to know that people can take charge of their own schooling and use it to build a better community, a better society.
The Latina/o community of Detroit has a right to be particularly proud of the Generation of the 1970s that went through Chicano-Boricua Studies at Wayne State University. They came from the Latina/o community, usually as the first to go to college in their families. The first group (Latino En Marcha) came to the Wayne State campus for leadership training and demanded a full university education.
Together with the older community activists, radical professors, and a few precious allies; they founded, built and defended Chicano-Boricua Studies, or Latino En Marcha, as it was first called.
By the way, an “alumni” of CBS is anyone who has gone through the program even if they did not finish it or even if they did not graduate. Especially in the 1970s, it was an education just to be there! And, of course, there were activists, who were allies, and did not go through CBS. All are part of the larger family.
“Latins on the March!” It might sound corny now, but those were different times—heady, gutsy times for challenging the establishment, liberating ourselves, and making the world better. The Generation of the 1970s believed they could change the world and their faith in themselves created a new Latina/o reality in Detroit.
Many Latinas/os in Detroit today do not know the proud history of CBS and the alumni who have defended it for thirty-six years. Detroit Latinas/os do not know that they benefit in multiple ways from the acts of creation in the 1970s that have shaped who the community is today.
Here are some of the major things this generation accomplished:
It is established the tradition that more than one Latina/o can go to college in Detroit in any given year. When this generation broke through the gates of the castle, they affirmed that it is normal for many Latinas/os to want a higher education.
Latino En Marcha and Chicano-Boricua Studies became the permanent pipeline for recruiting Latinas/os to Wayne State. The doors are still open to Latinas/os because students, alumni and community members have kept the doors open through the force of political action in 1975, 1987-1989, and 2001-2003 that turned back efforts to close or cripple CBS.
Chicano-Boricua Studies is the Latin American and United States Latina/o Studies Center on campus. We advocate for Latina/o issues within the University community and administration. We make it easy for students of all races, religions and national origins to get a decent higher education. We write history and sociology that break the stereotypes and treat Latina/os as full human beings. Individually, some of us are active in social-justices causes and document part of the history of the community.
CBS is thus an academic unit rooted in the community and committed to democracy in education. We assist those who have come after the foundational generation of the 1970s to take advantage of opportunities to become leaders.
Let’s not glorify the 70s generation more than they deserve. Like any other group of people, they all came from the same human source, have discovered their own faults and those of others, and they will return to dust. In fact, it would be wrong to treat them as heroes and make them less human than they really are. They are like us.
They come in different colors, sizes and personality quirks. Some of them may have failed at something. Collectively, they are models of leadership IN SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY.
They became lawyers and business persons, political party members, artists and musicians; one is a national publisher.
They also went into direct and lifelong public service. Accumulating money and fame was not the goal. We may argue about the particulars; but, one way or another, members of the Generation of the 1970s have been involved in the founding or institutional maintenance of most of the social service agencies and cultural centers in the Latina/o community. Many are educators at all levels of the system. On the very few occasions when Latinas/os are recognized as a constituency, the Generation of the 70s tends to provide the political voice.
We will be honoring other generations of CBS students and alumni, but Generation of the 1970s has been special. They already had what they needed when they got to campus. They had a sense of social consciousness that was shaped by a social conscience. The miracle was the collectivity of it, the sharing of a mission. It is something that is hard to teach because it not only has to be thought, it has to be felt.
We will be celebrating everyone from the seventies that shows up. We will select a few to honor as community servants and educators. You may want to come and give testimony about someone you know or yourself.
We invite all of our friends in the Metro area and beyond to join us in celebrating the life achievements of the Generation of the 1970s. This event is Latina/o for everyone. It is Wayne State University. It is the Detroit Latina/o Community and the larger community of human beings to which we belong.
If you have read this far, ask yourself “Do I know these people?” Whether or not you do, I expect to see you on Saturday Oct. 27, 2007.
Among the honorees will be: Eusebia Aquino, Bernandino “Benny” Cruz, Inéz de Jesús, Angelita “Angie” Espino, Angelo Figueroa, Belda Garza, Ricardo Guzmán, Elena Herrada, Marta Elena Lagos, Roberto Muñoz, Martín “Marty” Quiróz, Beatriz Esquivel-Ramos, Angela “Angie” Reyes, Osvaldo “Ozzie” Rivera, and Blanca Sosa.
SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES:
CBS 36th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Fundraiser
Celebrando Nuestro Pasado, Forjando Nuestro Futuro
Celebrating Our Past, Forging Our Future
Saturday, October 27, 2007, 6:00pm
at the McGregor Conference Center
or call 313.577.4378
Attendance is Free / please let us know you are coming so we can save you some space.
Dinner reservation required = $25 Suggested donation to scholarship fund = $50
Pay at the door
Master of Ceremonies, Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, Detroit Free Press Business Writer
Keynote Address by Angel Figueroa, Managing Editor, Time-Warner Magazines, CBS 1970s Alumnus, “The Giant isn’t Sleeping. He’s Just Dancing Salsa: The State of Latina/os USA”
Music by Ozzie Rivera and Bennie Cruz, CBS 1970s Alunmi