by Nelia Olivencia, Ph.D., Chair

The 1964 Civil Rights Act created the pathway to Chicana and Chicano Studies and ethnic studies programs where they established a presence in academia and the community. In 2016, we are confronting the dilution and/or elimination of many of these hard fought programs; we are confronting a change in the opposite direction, away from the exciting and hopeful years of the late 1960s and early 1970s where Chicana and Chicano Studies programs became the beacons of hope for Chicana and Chicanos in the community and in academia.

In such a context, now is the time to celebrate NACCS, and its role in the continued growth of Chicana and Chicano Studies to create and support a leadership that will confront the vast changes in our society where Anglo Americans are becoming the minority.

Since 1972, The National Association for Chicana and Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) has been in the forefront of establishing, maintaining, and expanding programs to reflect our concerns and grow our own leadership. We have done an admirable job with Chicana and Chicano Studies programs expanding to universities all over the United States. This momentum needs to continue.

Last year NACCS’ theme Chicana/o In/Civilities: Contestation y Lucha addressed the need to confront in/civilities and as a result, we dialogued and coalesced together as one for common goals and objectives.   We reflected upon the instruments used to gain civil rights, examined their validity in the present and maintained the ideal that the fight for equality is a worthy endeavor.

And we must always continue this struggle, this fight. The challenges in places such as Arizona or the discourse of hate being fueled at the national level greatly affect our communities. We are being inundated with behavior and attitudes that challenge our fundamental democratic belief that “all are created equal.” Instead, the national conversation points to creating racial, class, ethnic, and religious warfare that challenges the very essence of what it is to be a U.S. citizen.

However, there are spotlights across the country. The state of California and Tejas are working on establishing ethnic studies and Chicana and Chicano Studies in the K-12. where a recent Stanford University study showed that “researchers found that students not only made gains in attendance and grades, they also increased the number of course credits they earned to graduate.” Here in my home state of Wisconsin, our community stopped anti-immigrant bills AB450 and SB533. Victories are always victories.

Thus, the legacy of the civil rights movement continues to reverberate. Of course challenges always remain. For us, NACCS is an organization that over the years has been able to transcend its differences for the better good of all. We will continue to develop our leadership, support our communities, and fight for educational rights. As Carlos R. Guerrero, Past-Chair of NACCS has stated “… we have come a long way. Our path has been full of peaks, valleys, joy and resistance.” No doubt that we have lots of work ahead.


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