While Tucson Unified School District employees sit inside the Tucson Convention Center arena tomorrow for the Back to School Assembly on Tuesday, July 31, supporters of the dismantled Mexican-American studies program are expected to make a lot of noise outside at a press conference and rally beginning at 8:30 a.m.
The rally that morning, and a B-Side Players concert at the Rialto Theatre in the evening, mark the end to Freedom Summer — a summer-long pro-MAS project that brought students, teachers, activists and artists to Tucson from California, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Texas to canvas, organize education, cultural and community events, and fund-raise for a teacher-defense fund.
According to Ernesto Mireles, a main organizer and Chicano studies adjunct professor at the University of Michigan, Freedom Summer volunteers knocked on more than 1,000 doors canvassing south-side and west-side neighborhoods this summer, alongside other Tucson volunteers and students from UNIDOS. The canvassing and education weekends are expected to continue into the fall.
The TUSD Back to School Assembly is an employee-only event where district staff hear presentations from other staff on the new school year. The assembly starts at 9:30 a.m.
From the UNIDOS/Freedom Summer press release:
We, UNIDOS, Tucson Freedom Summer and our allies from across the United States gather today at TUSD’s “Back to School Assembly” to deliver a message to Tucson Unified School District’s board and the world.
Our resilient community has persevered through this struggle in defense of human rights. Once again we are here to assert our right to culture, history, identity, language and education. This struggle is about the affirmation of our humanity and your responsibility to represent the majority of students in TUSD as well the minority. We invite you to finally and truly embrace your responsibility to represent the majority of this community. You have that voice. You have that privilege.
The moment of reconciliation is here. As a board your allies are diminishing, while the past two months have demonstrated the expansive nature of our movement. History is on our side, regardless of whether you choose to act now or wait until you are forced by the courts to restore MAS we will be vindicated — can you say the same?
We have seen small steps toward coming together by putting out messages for remediation. We have been ready all along to work with you —together we can do this. In recent conversations with individual board members Tucson Freedom Summer and UNIDOS have called on board members and Superintendent John Pedicone to rethink their position; it’s irrational that board member Ph.D.’s will go down in US history as individuals who have eliminated ethnic studies programs and banned books. They will be written in the history books as individuals that promote ignorance - the banning of knowledge and history.
Let this be our effort to initiate a dialogue with TUSD to move forward with our futures in mind. How do you want to be remembered?
Tucson Freedom Summer (a project of Save Ethnic Studies) is a national convergence of activist, artists and organizers who in addition to a month of cultural and educational events are currently launching a citywide informational canvass and survey about the state of education in Tucson. Information about events and volunteering activities can be found at Tucsonfreedomsummer.com and on Facebook at Tucson Freedom Summer 2012.