Activists, writers, educators and students made their way to Tucson on Friday from Houston in support of TUSD's Mexican American Studies program.
The group, dubbed Librotraficante, has been traveling since Monday, making stops in San Antonio, El Paso and New Mexico and creating networks of underground libraries featuring books that were removed from the now-defunct Mexican American Studies courses.
The courses were eliminated in January after a threat by Arizona schools chief John Huppenthal to withhold millions in state funding.
Following the Tucson Unified School District board's decision to suspend the courses, seven titles associated with the curriculum were removed from classrooms and placed in school libraries for student use, leading to accusations from the program's supporters that the district was banning books.
The Librotraficante movement is being led by Tony Diaz, founder of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say - a group that works to promote Latino literature and literacy.
The goal of the trip is to educate the community on the need to take ownership of the educational system - to inform parents and others of the roles they must play and of the importance of finding and voting for school board candidates who speak for them, Diaz said Friday.
The Librotraficante effort has several public events planned for today, including handing out free books throughout the city from a taco truck; a Latino Cultural Caucus at Studio One, 197 E. Toole Ave., at 10 a.m.; and a literary showcase at 7 p.m. at the University of Arizona Social Sciences Building, Room 100, 1145 E. South Campus.
When asked why the group chose to use a taco truck to distribute books about Mexican Americans, Diaz said that taco trucks already know the routes in the barrios.
"Tacos are delicious and it's great to have books in the taco truck," he said. "It's like food for thought - people can have their barbacoa tacos and their contraband books."
Librotraficante will also be setting up an underground library locally at the John A. Valenzuela Youth Center in South Tucson, 1550 S. Sixth Ave., featuring hundreds of donated books from multicultural authors.
Court hearing on Monday
A hearing in the constitutional challenge of a state law targeting Mexican American Studies will be held Monday in federal court.
The hearing, scheduled for 9:30 a.m., will focus on a motion for summary judgment filed by the plaintiffs - a group of TUSD educators and students - asking that the law, formerly known as HB 2281, be struck down.
Tom Horne, who led the charge against the program as Arizona schools chief, released a document in support of the Arizona Department of Education on Friday, saying the plaintiffs' motion should be denied.
Horne is now the state's attorney general.
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at email@example.com or 573-4175.