Carlos Muñoz, Champion of Mexican-American Rights: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 6, 2014

Internationally known scholar, writer, and activist has pursued
immigrant civil rights from the 1960s to today

TACOMA, Wash. – Carlos Muñoz, pioneering leader of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, scholar and writer, political activist, and the recipient of numerous honors for his human rights work, will be the keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at University of Puget Sound on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Everyone is invited to the free talk, titled “Victory is in the Struggle,” that will be part of a public celebration starting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21 in Schneebeck Concert Hall on campus. The evening will include messages from leading Puget Sound campus members and gospel music by Navele & Friends.

Muñoz, professor emeritus in the Department of Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley, set the pace for the rest of the country on Latino and Chicano issues as a young man, when he became founding chair of the first Chicano Studies department in the nation, at California State University, Los Angeles, in 1968.

The son of poor, working-class Mexican immigrants, he pioneered the creation of curricula in Chicano/Latino and ethnic studies, and won wide acclaim for his award-winning book Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement, which became the classic work on the origins of the movement.

As a boy in El Paso, Texas, Muñoz was urged by his father to simply finish high school, so he could make his way in the world. He did graduate from high school—but the racism and segregation of the East Los Angeles barrio schools propelled him to take up student activism during the 1960s. In 1968, as president of the United Mexican American Students, he co-organized a nonviolent protest that led to thousands of high school students walking out of classes.

The young man subsequently imprisoned for this early role in the emerging Chicano Civil Rights Movement is today known internationally as a political scientist, historian, journalist, and public intellectual.

“What I have learned in my lifetime is that struggle is life and life is struggle,” Muñoz told Latino and Chicano graduating students at University of California, Berkeley, in 2006. “But most important, that victory is in the struggle.”

A leading organizer of various multiracial coalitions, including the Rainbow Coalition, Muñoz has taken on roles as diverse as advising the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign and advocating for the anti-war movement. He has been vociferous in defending the rights of undocumented workers in America and served as a member of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, among many similar roles.

Muñoz has appeared on NBC, CNN, ABC, CBC, national public television and radio, and Univision and Telemundo. His newspaper columns are syndicated nationally. In 1996 he received the University of Michigan’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chávez, and Rosa Parks fellowship. Other recognitions have included honors from the American Political Science Association; Harvard Graduate School of Education; the National Black Student Union Conference; and from organizers of a traveling national exhibition, The Long Walk to Freedom, that honored 12 “civil rights activists who accomplished extraordinary deeds that changed the face of the nation and gave birth to the modern Civil Rights Movement.”

Puget Sound’s 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. campus celebration is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Associated Students of the University of Puget Sound, Office of the Academic Vice President, and Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound campus:www.pugetsound.edu/directions
For accessibility information please contact accessibility@pugetsound.edu or 253.879.3236

Press photos of Carlos Muñoz can be downloaded from: www.pugetsound.edu/pressphotos

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