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Library Unveils First Major Chicano Collection
Herman Baca Papers Chronicle Decades of Chicano Movement in San Diego County

By Brook Williamson | July 15, 2006

Herman Baca
See more pictures of the Herman Baca Papers Unveiling Event here.

Despite the record heat, hundreds of people including Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante turned out at the Price Center Plaza on July 15 to celebrate the unveiling of the Herman Baca Papers, the University’s first major Chicano collection.

The comprehensive collection of documents chronicles more than 38 years of the Chicano movement in San Diego County.

The opening celebration featured music by Chunky y Los Alcacranes, spiritual Aztec dancers and a program of speakers including Herman Baca himself and Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

Who Is Herman Baca?
Herman Baca was born in New Mexico in 1943 and moved to National City with his family in 1954.  He’s a Chicano activist who’s spent his life addressing social justice issues.  Among his accomplishments, Baca:
1968 Organized the National City chapter of the statewide Mexican-American Political Association (MAPA).
1969 Established a private business, Aztec Printing.
1970 Served as San Diego County organizer for the La Raza Unida Party, a Mexican-American national third-party.
1970 Organized Casa Justicia, a community-based social service agency supporting undocumented persons dealing with immigration issues.
1975 Organized the Committee on Chicano Rights (CCR).
1981 Helped organize the Chicano National Immigration Conference Tribunal in San Diego.
2000 Campaigned against the U.S. Census Bureau’s labeling of Chicano/Mexico/Latinos as White.

“This is an important day for our community,” said Chancellor Fox.  “We look forward to increasing our Chicano collections and strengthening our ties to all segments of the Chicano community.”

“We place great significance on these materials and their importance in illustrating the contributions of the Chicano community to San Diego, to California and to our nation,” said University Librarian Brian E. C. Schottlaender.

This invaluable resource not only documents the past, but also provides a historical record to educate future generations about the struggle of the Chicano people.

Lt. Gov. Bustamante applauded UCSD for accepting the Herman Baca Papers and said Baca will now be a part of an institution, one of the greatest in the world.  “That is something not just of a man, but of a movement that provided an opportunity for an entire community.”

Baca made a point of telling the crowd the archive is made up of their history too, and he joked, “Whether you like it or not, most of you are in those archives.”

“As we leave your history at UCSD, this history is yours, your children’s and your grandchildren’s,” Baca said, adding that no one can take that history away, unless the archive is ignored.

Herman Baca
Herman Baca at a 1980 rally.

“We have come a long, long way, but as a people, we have a long way to go. We need to educate ourselves about our history.”

Baca not only documented the Chicano movement in San Diego, he has also been personally involved in addressing issues affecting the Chicano communities’ civil and constitutional rights.  He was a key organizer in the creation of the La Raza Unida political party in the early 70s and was the founder of the Committee on Chicano Rights.  He also worked closely with many of the leading figures of the Chicano movement, including Cesar Chavez.  All that time he was stashing away documents and mementos, which are now pieces of history.

The UCSD Mandeville Special Collections Library acquired the collection two years ago for $25,000, through a special gift from the Friends of the UCSD Libraries.  It’s taken months to sort through and catalog all of the extensive materials.  The archive includes thousands of pages of papers, hundreds of photographs, news clippings, posters, fliers, press releases, memos and newsletters.

The archive is now available to researchers, educators, historians, students and scholars. 

Selections from the collection will be on display through the first week of September at Giesel Library.

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