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Light the Tower: 50th Anniversary of Latino Studies

Illustrated text on the image says "Latino Studies. Established 1970."

The UT Tower will shine with burnt orange lights and “50” on its sides on Sunday, September 26 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Latino Studies.

The special Tower lighting configuration coincides with the birthday of Gloria Anzaldúa, who earned a Master’s degree in Education and English at UT in 1972 and returned in 1974 to earn a PhD in Literature. Anzaldúa, who became an internationally recognized cultural theorist, creative writer and independent scholar, felt alienated by the white-dominated university during her time at UT and was also dissatisfied with both the Chicano and feminist movements. The Tower lighting on this date not only honors Anzaldúa and her legacy, but also publicly reinforces the university’s commitment to bring and keep Latinx thought and work into the light, continuing the work she started here 50 years ago. 

“Fifty years of Latino Studies on campus is a huge achievement, even for institutions as long-lived as UT Austin,” Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, the director of the Center for Mexican American Studies, said. “Fifty years of representing the experiences and knowledge of Mexican American and other Latino communities in Texas, who had long been excluded in significant numbers from the state flagship prior to 1970. Fifty years of speaking truth to power, and thereby fighting for equity, inclusion, and democracy. Fifty years of working for the success of all students, but especially Latinx students, for whom Latino Studies has been a cultural oasis and a space of affirmation. Put differently, the presence of Latino Studies means that Latinx communities truly matter in the University’s business of knowledge production.”

Since its launch in 1970, the Center for Mexican American Studies at UT Austin has evolved. CMAS now has two sister units: the Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies (MALS) and the Latino Research Institute (LRI). All three units make up Latino Studies. 

Over the course of fifty years, Latino Studies has grown from a student initiative into a powerhouse of Latino thought and advocacy at The University of Texas at Austin, fearlessly upholding the mission of ethnic studies by creating space to explore and understand the lives of Latinos in the U.S. Together, all three units are fiercely committed to the empowerment of students, scholars, and communities for the purpose of realizing a just and affirmative future for all.


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