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In Defense of My People – Prof. Olivas Establishes Perales Scholarship

Hispanic Collections, In the News

The work of professor and scholar Michael A. Olivas, of the UH Law Center, will now be translated into a gift of philanthropy, scholarship, and conscience.


Alonso S. Perales (aged 17, 1915), available for high resolution download at our Digital Library here

This month, Arte Público Press publishes In Defense of My People edited by Professor Olivas.  The book assembles a collection of essays from Mexican and U.S. scholars on the life and legacy of Alonso S. Perales, initially presented as part of a 2012 conference and exhibit organized in conjunction with the University of Houston Special Collections and the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project.  Alonso S. Perales was noted for his civil rights legal work in the Mexican-American community as well as his influential and prolific writing on the topic of racial equality.  However, he is perhaps most remembered for the leadership he was able to provide in maneuvering the legal and logistical hurdles of uniting a number of disparate civil rights organizations under the banner of LULAC.

(Professor Olivas provides some background and perspective on Alonso S. Perales)

Arte Público Press and Olivas will donate royalties from purchases of the book to establish a scholarship with the UH Law Center’s Hispanic Law Student Association.  The first scheduled award, to a recipient exhibiting “academic merit and a record of involvement in the Houston Latino community,” is slated for 2014.

Thanks to the generous donation of the Perales family, the Alonso S. Perales Papers are now more accessible to the community at large and we are pleased to have them available for study in the Special Collections reading room during normal reference hours.  This collection, a part of our larger Hispanic Collections, is a rich resource and draw for scholars still attempting to provide a robust picture of a region and time complicated by competing ambitions and voices.  For starters, the collection includes correspondence with other noted civil rights leaders, organizational documents for LULAC, as well as his notes regarding personal writings, interviews, and radio addresses.  However, the detailed finding aid will be able to guide your research and provide more insight into the contents.

from our digital library, available for high resolution download here

“League of Latin American Citizens – Aims and Purposes,” from our Digital Library, available for high resolution download here

Our Digital Library has assembled a number of documents and photographs as highlights from this collection and they are available for viewing and high resolution download here.  In addition to the Perales papers, our Hispanic Collections offer a number of finding aid resources that may complement your study.

The history of “Aztlán” is infinitely complex and made more so when voices are muted.  We are pleased that, thanks to the efforts of scholars like Professor Olivas and others, those voices continue to garner an audience.  In addition, thanks to the continued generosity of he and his wife, Professor Augustina Reyes, now another scholarship has been established to ensure those futures voices are heard.

Please take a look at some of the online resources above.  If you are just beginning your education on Perales and his impact, videos from scholars on the exhibit page should provide a nice introduction.  However, if you are looking to expand your research, come visit us at your earliest convenience.

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