Fighting to end Tucson 'ban' on books, Latino activist wins

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, November 11, 2013

Camiliano “Cam” Juarez knocked on more than 37,000 doors in his fight to bring certain books and ideas back into the classrooms of Tucson.

In November 2012, Juarez, a 41-year-old urban planner who had never held elective office, won election to the governing board of the Tucson Unified School District. His victory, along with that of educator Kristel Ann Foster, shifted the balance of power on the five-member board. Last month, the new board voted to bring several books about Mexican American history back into Tucson classrooms.

The books had been removed -- "banned" in the eyes of Latino activists -- thanks to a conservative backlash against ethnic studies and the Tucson district’s Mexican American studies program.

“The conservative press tries to pigeonhole us as agents for Mexico,” Juarez said in a telephone interview with The Times. “But it’s just a wedge issue that was created to get people elected. Our position is that we don’t believe we should be ashamed of our last names and our identities.”

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