Students of the Chicano movement in the U.S. are either familiar with, or have heard the name, José Ángel Gutiérrez and the source of his initial work, Crystal City, Texas. But, according to the author of a new Spanish language biography, Gutiérrez’s contributions beyond those already familiar with the movement — especially south of the border — are not so well known.
“Outside of the scope of academic scholars of the [Chicano] Movement and the older generations of the Mexican-American community (especially in Texas), he’s not well known,” Raúl Caballero, author of “El Activista (Vida e insubordinaciones de José Ángel Gutiérrez. Líder emblemático del Movimiento Chicano en los Estados Unidos),” told Politic365 in Spanish.
Caballero is the editorial director at La Estrella and La Estrella Digital in Fort Worth, Texas, and as a journalist came to know Gutiérrez through his work as an attorney and tenured professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Caballero said he wrote the book through a series of interviews with Gutiérrez, and his first wife Luz Bazán, who was also a big part of the events described in the book.
The book is meant to highlight the life of Gutiérrez, who has written an autobiography and who has often been included in works chronicling the Chicano Movement, but as Caballero said, no one had written a book just about him. Part of the way he wanted to convey Gutiérrez’s experiences was by including long quotes in which he conveys his experience in his own words, a feature Caballero hopes will allow readers to get a more intimate detail of Gutiérrez’s personality and experiences.
“The history of the Chicano Movement, the history of Mexican-Americans, should be known and recognized,” Caballero said. “This history can illustrate the panorama of his life, rebellious acts, his experiences in the political and historical context of the country, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with the history of Mexican-Americans [in the U.S.].”
Caballero hopes the book serves as a candid look into the life of a young man who, after witnessing injustices against Mexican Americans in South Texas his whole life, decided to do something about it. Through his activism and political action, Caballero told Politic365 he hopes others will understand Gutiérrez’s contributions to the civic and political gains currently being made by Latinos in the U.S.
For his part Gutiérrez said that, while he has written his own autobiography, he hopes that this book will help younger generations of Latinos know about the struggles of Mexican Americans in this country. It should serve as “another link to our continuing and time immemorial struggle for dignity and empowerment as a mestizo people,” he said.
The book was published by the Autonomous University of Nuevo León in Mexico and the publishing house La Quincena. Of 1,000 copies printed, 400 will be distributed to libraries and other locals in the United States, Caballero said. Eventually, he said he would hope to have the book translated and published in English.