A group of activists, writers, educators and students will travel from Houston to Tucson next month in support of TUSD's Mexican American Studies program.
The group, dubbed the Librotraficante Caravan, will leave Houston March 12, making stops in San Antonio, El Paso and New Mexico before arriving in Tucson on March 16.
The supporters are planning to create networks of underground libraries along the way featuring books that were removed from Mexican American Studies classrooms last month when the courses were suspended.
The underground library in Tucson will be located at the John A. Valenzuela Youth Center in South Tucson, 1550 S. Sixth Ave.
The charge 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.
"Every great movement is sparked by outrage at a deep cultural offense," Diaz said. "When we heard that Tucson Unified School District administrators not only prohibited Mexican American Studies but then walked into classrooms and, in front of young Latino students during class time, removed and boxed up books by our most beloved authors - that was too much."
The TUSD Governing Board voted to put an end to Mexican American Studies courses amid a threat of losing millions in state funding from the Arizona Department of Education.
After the vote, TUSD directed teachers to box up seven books associated with the suspended curriculum. Those books were then placed in storage.
TUSD reported only one incident in which books were removed in front of students, calling it a regretful situation.
The removal of the books prompted criticism that TUSD was essentially banning books. The district denies that claim, saying that some of the books have been placed in school libraries for student use. However, there are only about four dozen of the books available for high school students to check out.
Events scheduled for March 16-17 include the distribution, throughout the city from a taco truck, of the books that were removed from classrooms; a workshop for teachers on how to use Latino literature in the classroom; and a literary showcase and celebration.
To view the schedule of events, go to www.librotraficante.com
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at email@example.com or 573-4175.