It is with great sympathy and respect that I write these words. Last year, El Centro de la Raza celebrated 50 years of existence serving Raza students at UNM. We humble ourselves to the struggles that our communities experienced and led in the 1960s to bring about social and economic justice. Those struggles paved the way for places like El Centro to exist and to support the educational experience of Raza students. Because of the gains for inclusion and social justice, our gente has continued to move toward better education for our children, even though the system continues to fail us in many ways. We are confident that as the United States transitions to a more diverse society, our resilience will continue to move us in the right direction, even with the perils that inequality offers.
Despite adversity, we have a lot to celebrate and honor. The times that we are living in right now are tough. These times will continue to challenge our understanding of social norms. These times will continue to test our resolve to move forward despite the adversities the world is experiencing. Our roots go deep in these lands. Our forefathers lived through migrations, droughts, sickness, conquest, and every other calamity you can think of. The sense of hope and humbleness to the spirit of the times that we are living in, is what continues to keep us together and moving us forward. Today we must show the same resolution to withstand the winds of change, and to adapt to the times and conditions we are living in.
In the context of time and history, five decades is not a lot of time. In the context of the human experience, five decades renders a sense of path and trajectory. It is the same for El Centro. El Centro has a sense of path and trajectory. It has a purpose. Every one of the people from our community who participated in the struggle in the 1960s deserves recognition because they are/were our leaders. Some of our leaders have passed on, but others are still among us; teaching their Conocimiento in our communities as a precondition to listen and understand the past to move us toward the future. To them, and to those who have been forgotten, we express our agradecimiento for their hard work and persistence.
As a team, El Centro staff will continue to uphold the commitment to work for our students and our communities and to serve as a support system for our next generation. Without our young people and their hopes and dreams, El Centro would not have a sense of existence. We have gained a lot in terms of seeing ethnic studies being implemented in the school system. Just recently, we witnessed the incorporation of the Chicana and Chicano Studies MA/Ph.D. program at UNM. Now the question for our generation is how far are we going to relay the dream? As we continue this journey, El Centro will continue to serve our students and the communities from where they come. As diversity in our country continues to change the landscape and contours of our country, El Centro staff will continue to support the legacy that was entrusted to us, and El Centro will continue to be a place for personal fulfillment, support, and academic inquiry. El Centro will continue to be our House of Learning, the place where our students will find comfort and encouragement to continue with their education and continue to dismantle the systemic racism they inherited. We will continue to thrive and persevere!
Rosa Isela Cervantes
El Centro de la Raza, Director