Rodolfo Acuña: Cal State Northridge professor caught in Arizona controversy

HISTORY PROFILES & HISTORY NEWS:

Source: LAT, 1-13-11

Rodolfo Acuña’s Mexican American history book, first published four decades ago, has become fuel for Arizona politicians targeting ethnic studies programs.

Rodolfo “Rudy” Acuña is an amiable, white-haired professor from Los Angeles who’s having his named dragged through the mud by certain Arizona politicians.

He grew up in South L.A. and East Hollywood in the 1940s and ’50s, and has fond memories of learning Latin at Loyola High School. He went on to make a career of teaching generations of young people from the Southwest some of the salient episodes of their history.

His most famous work is a Mexican American history textbook on which hundreds of future politicos, writers and PhDs cut their intellectual teeth. It’s now in its seventh printing.
But to Arizona’s new attorney general, Tom Horne, who’s accused him of fostering “ethnic chauvinism,” Acuña is a separatist and a danger to the republic.

When he was the state’s top education official, Horne used Acuña’s book, “Occupied America, A History of Chicanos,” as Exhibit A in a successful campaign to have certain Latino studies classes shut down in Arizona schools.

“These people think you’re a separatist if you want to teach and include people,” Acuña told me as we sat this week in his Cal State Northridge office. “I don’t want to be part of Mexico…. That’s a stupid thing to argue.”…READ MORE

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