New Arte Público Press Facilities House Two Controversial, But Highly Acclaimed Books

Banned by Tucson, Ariz. School District, Historically Valuable Books are Part of APP's Hispanic Civil Rights Series

As the University of Houston’s Arte Público Press (APP), the largest publisher of contemporary U.S. Latino literature, moves into a new state-of-the-art facility in the UH Energy Research Park (ERP), it also opens its doors to the Arizona controversy that has landed two APP books on the banned list. 

“It’s ironic that at a time when Arte Público Press is expanding and has moved into newer, high-tech facilities that two of its most well known books have been removed from classrooms,” said Nicolàs Kanellos, professor and director of APP.   

The books, “Message to Aztlan,” by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales (2001) and “Chicano! A History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement,” by Arturo Rosales (1997) were two of the seven books confiscated by Tucson Unified School District officials following the dismantling of the district’s Mexican-American Studies program. 

“Chicano!” has sold more than 20,000 copies since its publication and is considered a critical discussion of Latino history.

“Rosales’ book not only stands as a solid academic treatment, it was also the book that accompanied the four-part PBS series of the same name and received a prestigious human rights award,” he said.  “But it’s the changing demographics of the United States, and, in particular, the Border States, that has led to reaction against the tide of culture change.”

The two books are part of APP’s Hispanic Civil Rights series. The series was commissioned in 2000 to document contributions to public policy, education and community affairs by Hispanic civil rights organizations and their leaders.  Books in the series highlight women’s activism, immigration reform, educational equity, citizen participation in a democratic society, civic culture and racial/cultural relations.

“These books tell an American story of struggle and contribution and are critical to our national narrative and memory,” Kanellos said. 

The Hispanic Civil Rights Series is made possible through the support of The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Arte Publico’s move to the new UH Energy Research Park allows for greater storage space for books, additional offices for staff, and room for state-of-the-art book scanners and equipment necessary for working with the largest database publisher in the world, EBSCO, to digitize recovered work written by Latinos from the colonial period to present day.

“Books have been physically removed from classrooms, but we will continue to make them available in print and electronic formats for all types of devices and all kinds of people,” Kanellos said.