Morgan LaFlamme Contributing Writer
Eastern Connecticut State University’s presence in the research community continued to thrive as students traveled to New Haven to attend an academic conference on April 20.
Students from Dr. Christine Garcia’s Chicana and Latinx Rhetoric course were invited to present their research at an Undergraduate Symposium held by Yale University’s Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Studies department. Throughout the course of the semester, the focus of the class ranged from the history of the Mexican American community and their activism, to prominent voices from the Latinx community.
The students’ research culminated in a Latinx activist profile, in which each student used a creative approach to discuss the influence and achievements of a person of their choice. For the symposium, the students opted to reconfigure their projects into flash profiles about each rhetor, accompanied by student-produced visuals. The end result took the form of a spoken word project, which mirrors the creativity that is fostered by Eastern’s liberal arts mission.
At the symposium, Eastern students presented a comprehensive overview of many distinguished and passionate activists from the Latinx community. The panel began with the work of Chicana artists such as Patssi Valdez and Carmen Lomas Garza, focusing in on the influence of the Chicana experience.
Numerous students found it meaningful to discuss rhetors whose strong Latinx voices were taken from them, such as Chicano newsman Ruben Salazar, Brazilian poor-people’s activist Marielle Franco, and Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceras. Some students even chose to spotlight the combined efforts of different activists, like the partnership between Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez to establish the United Farm Workers Union.
The conclusion of the panel aligned Latinx history to current activist issues in the United States, as Paulo Crisostomo of the East L.A Walkouts (Chicano Blowouts) in 1968 was discussed alongside Emma Gonzales, organizer and activist for March For Our Lives. This comparison served as a powerful reminder of the strength that lies in activism and community solidarity.
The experience provided an opportunity for the students to reflect Eastern’s liberal arts curriculum by demonstrating the successes that come when you combine research and social responsibility. As Chicana activist Dolores Huerta says,
“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”
“The end result took the form of a spoken word project, which mirrors the creativity that is fostered by Eastern’s liberal arts mission.”