UMAS y MEXA celebrates 50 years with new exhibit

A photo from the exhibit. March 20, 2019. (Mujtaba Al Hubayl/CU Independent)

The United Mexican American Students y Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (UMAS y MEXA) campus organization at the University of Colorado, Boulder, revealed a panel exhibit in Norlin Library on Wednesday in celebration of the group’s 50th anniversary.

Founded in 1968, UMAS y MEXA “has been a voice for civil rights for Mexican-Americans, an advocate for inclusive educational change and a place where students can celebrate and share Mexican-American tradition and culture,” Associate Dean of Libraries Jennifer Knievel said.

A patron exploring the exhibit. March 20, 2019. (Mujtaba Al Hubayl/CU Independent)

The exhibit can be viewed in the Ventana Gallery on the third floor of Norlin Library until August of this year and includes many images and artifacts from UMAS y MEXA’s 50 years as an organization.

When Head of Archives Megan Friedel took her position less than a year ago, she noticed the minimal material that the archives contained on UMAS y MEXA.

“For an organization that has a 50-year presence on campus and has been highly involved with civil rights, with advocating for educational change for minority students, providing a safe and supportive place for celebration of Mexican-American culture,” Friedel said. “For the quote-unquote ‘official archives’ on campus to not have that story well documented is not okay.” 

Magnolia Landa-Posas, the featured speaker for the event and community engagement manager for the Just Transition Collaborative, remembers when she first learned about the group during her undergraduate years at CU from 2012 to 2017. 

Magnolia Landa-Posas speaking at the event. March 20, 2019. (Mujtaba Al Hubayl/CU Independent)

“I went to the first meeting and I knew immediately that that’s where I belonged,” she said.

Landa-Posas says she considered transferring to another school when she first arrived at CU due to the school’s racial homogeneity. It was UMAS y MEXA that convinced her to stay on the campus. 

That same year, Landa-Posas became one of the co-founders for the Aquetza summer program. The program encourages high school students to engage with Latinx and Chicanx communities across Colorado “through rigorous academic work in ethnic studies, writing, reading and science,” as well as incorporating the history of UMAS y MEXA. 

“Sometimes it would get very heavy and very sad to realize all the activism, all the sweat, the tears, that the mujeres and the hombres of the 1960s and 70s went through in order for us to have a space carved in for us here at this institution,” Landa-Posas said. “But to me, knowing that history grounded me.”

Head of Comité de Activismo Frankie Donez finds it essential to give a voice to all underrepresented groups.

“There’s a lot of other histories that are erased — not just history for the Chicanx movement but black and brown histories in general,” Donez said. “I think about anyone who … educational institutions and police institutions don’t consider human and decide just to kill them off because of it and forget about those histories.”

The staff of Norlin Library also realize the importance of the exhibit.

“We are going to continue to do this,” Head of Archives Megan Friedel said. “We are going to continue to work with UMAS and the Chicano community on campus, in addition to reaching out to other underrepresented communities to make sure that their stories are told and represented in our archives.”

Head of archives, Megan Friedel speaks in front of the exhibit crowd. March 20, 2019. (Mujtaba Al Hubayl/CU Independent)
Dean of Libraries, Jennifer Knievel speaks to the exhibit audience. March 20, 2019. (Mujtaba Al Hubayl/CU Independent)
Megan Friedel speaking. March 20, 2019. (Mujtaba Al Hubayl/CU Independent)

Contact Breaking News Editor Anna Haynes at anna.haynes@colorado.edu.

Anna Haynes

Breaking News Editor

Anna Haynes is a freshman journalism and political science major at CU Boulder. She is interested in LGBTQ issues as well as diversity on campus and in Boulder.

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