Conference On Chicano Issues Opens
As many as 700 delegates from around the country are expected in Spokane this week for a conference of the National Association for Chicano Studies.
The conference, based at the Ridpath Hotel, started Wednesday and continues through Saturday night.
Sessions include panels on the latest research on Chicano issues. For example, one session will focus on the political future of Chicano communities in the Yakima Valley.
Topics such as sexual harassment and gay rights also are being addressed.
The association plans to file a friend-of-the-court brief in a U.S. Supreme Court challenge of Colorado’s anti-gay rights initiative, which was voted into law in 1992.
This is only the second time the association has held its conference outside the Southwest.
Eastern Washington University, which has a Chicano studies department, is the home of the association’s national office. EWU has about 300 Chicano students, said Oscar Yarrito, president of the EWU chapter of the national association.
“This is an excellent opportunity for the (Spokane) community as a whole to learn more about Chicano studies and what’s going on at Eastern,” said Leroy Lemos, a student from Denver.
Organizers said the public is invited to look in on the conference sessions.
The Chicano population has deep roots in Eastern Washington dating back to the 1920s, said Carlos Maldonado, director of the Chicano studies program at EWU.
There are at least 7,000 Chicano people living in the Spokane area, he said.
“We are part of this community and we are part of the national scene,” Maldonado said.