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Chicana Educator Honored at UC San Diego

LA JOLLA, Calif.

Gracia Molina Enriquez de Pick, an activist in the international feminist movement and lifelong proponent of educational reform was the honoree for the University of California at San Diego’s Cesar Chavez celebration kickoff on Tuesday (April 1). She was being recognized for her recent $125,000 challenge gift that will endow the Gracia Molina de Pick Endowed Fund for Chicano/a Studies to support the Chicano/a~Latino/a Arts and Humanities minor program in the Division of Arts and Humanities at the university.

UC San Diego created the minor program in 2002 to offer students a wide knowledge of Spanish-speaking and indigenous histories and cultures. Molina de Pick’s gift will be used to enhance the program, by bringing renowned scholars and artists to campus for public lectures, performances and exhibits.

“With this generous gift – the first endowed fund for our program – Gracia Molina de Pick continues her life-long activism and unwavering support for Latinas and Latinos in higher education,” said Jorge Mariscal, UC San Diego professor of Literature and director of the Chicano/a~Latino/a Arts and Humanities minor program. “Gracia’s generosity should serve as inspiration to others throughout San Diego, motivating them to help students of all backgrounds learn about the history and culture of the fastest growing demographic group in California.”

“I don’t have a lot of money – but I’m rich in so many other ways,” Molina de Pick said. “Everything I have, I give to the causes. I hope others will also help in raising the consciousness of the people of our community. The UC San Diego Chicano/a~Latino/a Arts and Humanities minor program is critically important, but it needs to be nourished and it needs resources.”

Her gift of real property, which provides the seed money for the Gracia Molina de Pick Endowed Fund for Chicano/a Studies, launches a grassroots fundraising effort conducted by her friends, including former students, staff and those she has mentored over the years, who are seeking to raise $125,000 in matching funds. This challenge will culminate March 2009 in a Women’s History Week event that will feature Gloria Steinem as keynote speaker. For more information, call the UC San Diego Arts and Humanities Office of Development at 858-534-9097.

Gracia Molina de Pick was born in Mexico City into a family of political activists, and moved to San Diego in 1957 after she married Richard A. Pick. She earned a master’s degree through San Diego State University and  pursued doctoral studies at UC San Diego and the University of Southern California. She is a founder of IMPACT, an early community grassroots organization  for Mexican-American civil rights and of the Comision Femenil Mexicana Nacional, the first national feminist Chicana Association. She served as the Chicana Caucus Chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus and the National Council of La Raza, the first Civil Rights Advocate group for Mexican American Civil Rights.

Molina de Pick was also the national organizer for Chicana participation at the U.N. World Conferences on Women. She is a published author whose latest book, Mujeres en la Historia & Historias de Mujeres, highlights women in Mexican history, pre-1492 through 1950, for high school students and the general public. It will be released in May 2008.

In addition, Teatro Chicana, the performance, and Teatro Chicana, the soon-to-be-published book, will be presented at 5 p.m. April 17 in the Cross-Cultural Center at the University of California, San Diego. The event is part of UCSD’s monthlong celebration honoring César E. Chavez. It is free and open to the public.

The performance event will include readings and a skit by three of the book’s authors, Felicitas Nunez, Delia Rodriguez, and Peggy Garcia. A group talk including questions and answers about the skit, a catered reception, and music by Chunky Sanchez and Ricardo Felix will follow.

The book, Teatro Chicana – A Collective Memoir and Selected Plays (University of Texas Press) was written by 17 Chicana actors who participated in the Chicano Movement of the 1970s and 1980s and was edited by Laura E. Garcia, Sandra M. Gutierrez, and Nunez.

“These memoirs are the personal, honest, and riveting testimonials of 17 Chicanas who performed Chicana theater during the 1970s,” writes Rudolfo Anaya, author of Bless Me, Ultima and Curse of the ChupaCabra. “These carnalas empowered themselves and thousands during the tumultuous years of the Movimiento by performing plays for working-class communities. From college campuses to the fields where campesinos toiled, estas mujeres had the courage to fight gender inequality.

“We need their courage today. And we need their stories for a new generation of Chicanas and for working women everywhere.”

Teatro Chicana tells the story of 17 Chicana actors through chapters featuring the history, as well as the present day, of each of the main actors and writers, and excerpts from the group’s background materials and seven of their original short scripts.

Teatro Chicana, the performance, is sponsored by the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies (CILAS), Chicano/a and Latino/a Arts and Humanities (CLAH), the César E. Chavez Celebration Planning Committee, the UCSD Cross-Cultural Center, Ethnic Studies Department, Literature Department, Women’s Center, and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan (MEChA).

For further information on Teatro Chicana call the Cross-Cultural Center at 858 534-9689 or Violeta Gonzales at 858 822-2021.

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