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The Aoki Center & UC Davis Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion presents -
UC Davis Hispanic Serving Institution Speaker Series
Professor Lorena V. Marquez Book Talk
Born in Lodi, California to Mexican migrant farmworkers and raised in nearby Galt, Dr. Lorena V. Márquez has never forgotten her roots. In fact, as the fourth of seven children who grew up in poverty with hardworking parents who made countless sacrifices, she credits her humble upbringing for the ganas (drive) to pursue her academic and activist goals. As a native Spanish-speaking daughter of immigrants and first-generation college student, she knows firsthand of the challenges many Chicanx and Latinx students face inside and outside of the classroom. In fact, as the first and only member of her family to go to college, she is keenly aware of educational inequities and is committed to making college truly accessible to all—regardless of citizenship or socio-economic background.
Dr. Márquez serves as a board member of the Sacramento Movimiento Chicano and Mexican American Education Project Oral History Project, a collective of Sacramento Chicana/o movement elders and organizers whose mission is to record and preserve the oral histories of Sacramento Chicana/o Movement activists from 1965-1980. During the spring 2014 and 2015 quarters, her UC Davis Qualitative Methods Research undergraduate students conducted interviews of Sacramento Chicana/o movement activists and participants as part of their course requirements. In the winter 2019 and 2020 quarters her students transcribed the interviews. To date, there are 99 video recorded oral histories. These interviews will be housed at the Sacramento State Special Collection and University Archives. The findings of the interviews serve as the basis for her second book project.
Struggles for Empowerment and Community Self-Determination in Sacramento
La Gente traces the rise of the Chicana/o Movement in Sacramento and the role of everyday people in galvanizing a collective to seek lasting and transformative change during the 1960s and 1970s. In their efforts to be self-determined, la gente contested multiple forms of oppression at school, at work sites, and in their communities.
Though diverse in their cultural and generational backgrounds, la gente were constantly negotiating acts of resistance, especially when their lives, the lives of their children, their livelihoods, or their households were at risk. Historian Lorena V. Márquez documents early community interventions to challenge the prevailing notions of desegregation by barrio residents, providing a look at one of the first cases of outright resistance to desegregation efforts by ethnic Mexicans. She also shares the story of workers in the Sacramento area who initiated and won the first legal victory against canneries for discriminating against brown and black workers and women,and demonstrates how the community crossed ethnic barriers when it established the first accredited Chicana/o and Native American community college in the nation.
Márquez shows that the Chicana/o Movement was not solely limited to a handful of organizations or charismatic leaders. Rather, it encouraged those that were the most marginalized—the working poor, immigrants and/or the undocumented, and the undereducated—to fight for their rights on the premise that they too were contributing and deserving members of society.