Monday, May 5, 2014

In Honor of Vincente Ximenes Legacy, Melisa Garcia (2014 Ximenes Scholar)

To begin, it is important to take a few moments of silence to honor the legacy that Vincent Ximenes has left for the future of Mexican American Civil Rights. Although, I only heard about Ximenes in Professor Kells Chicano Ecology class, and now a Ximenes scholar, I am humbled to represent a huge legacy of progress and equal rights. The first time I heard about Ximenes I Googled his name, and learned more about what he contributed to New Mexico and nationally. After learning about Ximenes death, while reading the Albuquerque Journal online, there was something in particular that was heartwarming, strong willed about this man that resonated within me. This specifically were the words that Ximenes shared with his daughter, “You have to fight back and stand up for yourself.” This in many ways, have been the same words that roam in the banks of my memory when I think about my father. Just from this simple phrase, I am sure that Ximenes was an exemplary father.

It is not often that a person is recognized for their efforts, and Ximenes deserves more than recognition. As a poet, I can say that words are like actions, and that although I never met Ximenes, his actions in my eyes, and for ears are poetry. This desire within to take action against those things that matter most to us. The dedication that Vicente Ximenes had in supporting underrepresented populations is a value that I myself seek as a first generation of Central American parents. I believe that this is crucial for individuals from a generation of Salvadoran and Guatemalan descendants to be given the opportunity to distinguish themselves through a dialogue about the political, social climates of these countries. In my work I focus on creating a dialogue of my parents’ experiences in these countries. As well to give voice to them, to the country, and of course to stories that haven’t been told. I am building my own oral history, then providing a civic literacy within academia, with the goal of creating a representation for future generations. Many of my poems aim to do this so the stories won’t remain within my parents, friends, neighbors, but outside of California, and now thankfully in New Mexico.

This is important, and has been important to me because my family’s history is founded on the struggle of defying displacement of the mind, body, and spirit. Like Ximenes, supplying this space for others to express themselves happens in my mind through poetry. Through Professor Kells Chicano Ecology class, I have rediscovered what displacement means, what land ownership provides for its inhabitants, and the most difficult concept to explain or even digest—exile. Through Professor Kells class I am learning more about this through a personal project I started in undergrad about the testimony of a woman named Rufina Amaya from El Salvador. She was the sole survivor of a massacre in El Mozote, Morazán. She told her story of survival, a film was made, then Mark Danner transcribed her testimony, but the Truth Commission did not believe her testimony was valid. In my eyes, this testimony is a form of civic literacy that has been denied and forgotten. This in many ways, frustrates me, it wants me to create a dialogue about her testimony, and to attest to it. This is not just a representation of a woman of El Salvador, or of just the generation of Salvadoran woman but of all woman that deserve a voice. So in retrospect, I am thinking about myself as a representation of my mother, her country, my father and his journey, and my journey will be.
This I hope, will create a great integral space to continue attesting to my interpretation of civic literacy through my poetry, and the ongoing desire to tell the stories of those that are silenced and not represented.

Vicente Ximenes life, spirit, courage will live on. Some may come to learn his name like I did, then look around and notice that change is attainable. Through the Ximenes scholarship many have access to expressing their civic duties, and I am in-debt to a man I never knew, but yet feel like I did. Thank you Vicente Ximenes.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ximenes Tribute by Isaac G. Cardona - March 28, 2014

A decade ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking to Dr. Vicente Ximenes for the first time, and although I had researched and read quite a bit about his illustrious career, all of the words on the pages that I had read paled in comparison to hearing about his life through his own words. It was a life lived less ordinary.

As I heard Dr. Ximenes speak about his past, I began to draw parallels to my own life, and that of my family. He grew up in the small town of Floresville, Texas, and just like each of my male relatives, he served in the armed forces overseas. When he returned, the path that he took continued to be one of service, and his actions would impact not only the Hispanic veterans in my family, but those of millions of Americans who would be granted equal treatment through the fulfillment of his legacy. His life was a life of service, seeking equality and justice for all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds, and his work with the American GI forum did just that.

With all of his accolades and accomplishments, education was a factor in Dr. Ximenes’s life that seemed to be a focal point for all of the other successes that he would have. The University of New Mexico became his home as he pursued his bachelor and master degrees, becoming an accomplished scholar in addition to a passionate civic leader. As a student at the University of New Mexico myself, I was honored to be granted time with such a remarkable man, and to hear about his life and accomplishments. What was undoubtedly a short meeting has resonated with me for years ever since.

I left inspired and motivated by the words of Dr. Ximenes, and along with Dr. Michelle Hall Kells, we were able to set up a scholarship at the University of New Mexico in Dr. Ximenes’s name to not only commemorate the amazing work that he had done, but to afford others the opportunity to have a similar impact through education. It was fulfilling work to see the scholarship come to fruition at dedication ceremony for Dr. Ximenes. The room was packed full of people who were there to congratulate him, and to show support for a man that had supported so many others. We gave out the award to the first recipient on that day, but in the past decade, it has helped so many others.

Moved by his message, my post-collegiate years have been spent in service, much like those of Dr. Ximenes. Knowing that access to a quality education is the civil rights movement of our generation, I joined Teach For America after graduation and moved to Texas to teach and support students who were much like myself. I was able to work in underprivileged schools from the bustling streets of Houston, to the dusty dirt roads of the Rio Grande Valley. For almost a decade, I have had the pleasure of working with teachers and students that are committed to ensuring that every child, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

Although I was saddened to hear about the death of Dr. Vicente Ximenes, being granted the opportunity to hear about his life forever changed mine. He was a remarkable leader and man that will truly be missed. 

c/o Professor Michelle Kells, Associate Professor, Rhetoric & Writing,  University of New Mexico  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reception to Honor Vicente Ximenes - Friday, March 28th

In Honor of Vincente Ximenes - Christine Garcia

The last time I spoke with Vincente Ximenes we talked about my hometown of San Angelo, Texas. He recalled with nostalgic humor how the Tejanos and Tejanas in West Texas were a bit stubborn and a bit set in their ways. Ximenes followed this accurate critique by telling me that those that did listen to the message of progress and equality via Mexican American Civil Rights were some of the most dedicated and most vocal activists he had ever met.
After our conversation, I reflected on the importance of Ximenes’s work to scholars such as myself. As a young woman raised and educated in West Texas, I was a definitive homegrown scholar, as much a part of my community as I was a part of academia. Through Ximenes’s stories about my hometown, I began to acknowledge this and embrace it. What an honor it was to come to this realization through Ximenes’s fond memories of San Angelo and his time there as an activist and organizer.
As a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of New Mexico, I am taking a path like the one forged by Ximenes on his journey from Floresville, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico, I have made my way west to cultivate the academic side of my role as citizen scholar. My dissertation, titled “The Chicana Speaks: Dolores Huerta and the Chicana as Rhetor,” is the cornerstone of this journey. My dissertation examines the role of Dolores Huerta as a paradigmatic Chicana rhetor. Known as “La Huelgista,” Huerta has worked tirelessly for the last four decades in pursuit of Mexican American labor and civil rights. Through her position as lobbyist and speaker for multiple organizations and foundations, she has accomplished the monumental feat of the Chicana voice from the oikos into the polis. I take as my primary texts for analysis Huerta’s own words, her 1969 Statement to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Migratory Labor, a 1973 debate between Huerta and Chuck O’Brien of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and her 2009 Commencement Keynote Address at UCLA. Ultimately, I argue that the confluences of Huerta’s upbringing, her critically progressive embodiment of Chicanisma, and her adept rhetorical skills positions her as an efficacious Chicana rhetor. My work is in honor of activists and speakers such as Huerta and Ximenes and the profound impact they have made in American Rhetoric. I believe that the time is upon us to begin cultivating these voices as part of our canon.
As Ximenes scholars, we all strive to move the work we are doing within the confines of academia into the community. An example of this came with the 2013 Writing the World Symposium, held at the University of New Mexico on April 19th, 2013. As the 2013 Chair of UNM’s Writing Across Communities, I had the pleasure of helping to organize this symposium with a cadre of like-minded citizen scholars. This symposium brought together academics, poets, tutors, students, and community members in forum on issues concerning literacy practices in our dynamic and diverse university and community. Vibrant and varied panels led to personal and professional connections for presenters and attendees. From these connections arose continuing conversations on how to best engage and enact literacy practices that are local and vocal and effective to our communities.
Vincente Ximenes’s legacy of interweaving civic duties with scholarly endeavors lives on through the Ximenes Scholarship and those, such as myself, who have the honor of receiving it. 

c/o Professor Michelle Kells, Associate Professor, Rhetoric & Writing,  University of New Mexico

Genevieve Irene Garcia de Mueller's Memorial to Dr. Ximenes

When I heard of Dr. Vicente Ximenes’ passing and was subsequently asked to write this memorial I was at first honored and then humbled.  He meant so much to the movement, to my work as a scholar of color, to Albuquerque and to the Chicano community.  I have struggled to write this memorial because how do you honor a man with such a legacy. 
In 2012, when I received the Vicente Ximenes Scholarship in Public Rhetoric and Civic Literacy I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ximenes.   I related to him that as a single mother and a Latina with limited funds, the money I received meant the word to me but more than that with this scholarship I would dedicate my work on several research projects with Ximenes’ legacy in mind.  The work he did was revolutionary and people like me wouldn't be in doctoral programs without the things he did so many years ago.  It was and still is an act of defiance for people of color to contribute to academia.  
This past weekend I attended the Conference on College Composition and Communication where I presented a chapter of my dissertation titled Multilingual Writers and the Ruling Voice: Constructions of Race, Ethnicity, and Citizenship in the DREAM Act.  It was during the discussions that followed this presentation and the meeting with the Latino Caucus that I realized how to frame this memorial to Dr. Ximenes.  We are still a misunderstood and underrepresented people. We still need to mobilize. And so in death as in life Dr. Ximenes is our abuelito.  He is our voice and our passion and as part of a community of Chicanos, Latinos, and Indigenous gente he symbolizes the struggle.  He will be missed because of his work but also because he is part of a collective conscious of Latinidad and Chicanismos.  One soul has passed but the struggle continues. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Vicente Ximenes’ Legacy of Citizen Scholarship, by Brian Hendrickson

The other afternoon, on my way across campus to conduct my dissertation research, I happened to run into my mentor, Dr. Michelle Hall Kells, heading home for the day. I had been working on the webpage to honor Dr. Vicente Ximenes and the scholarship that bears his name, and I had a question for Dr. Kells, whose current book project examines Dr. Ximenes’ key role in Mexican American civil rights reform. Over the years I had studied under her and worked alongside her on UNM’s Writing Across Communities (WAC) Initiative, I had often heard Kells refer to Ximenes as the cofounder of the American GI Forum, but I had trouble finding that reference elsewhere. When I mentioned that to her, Kells explained that Ximenes had yet to receive the recognition he deserved, but that Ximenes should be considered a cofounder of the American GI Forum for the role he played in shaping the organization into one that would in large part determine the outcome of the 1961 presidential election. And it was Ximenes, Kells insisted, that had provided the blueprint for the work we had been doing these past ten years at UNM under the banner of the WAC Initiative.
       I’ll leave it to the expert, Dr. Kells, to reveal the details of Dr. Ximenes’ legacy, but the gist is this: The American GI Forum was not much more than a small network of veterans and church groups scattered across Texas when it came under the leadership of Dr. Vicente Ximenes in 1951. At that time Dr. Ximenes was an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico, but in collaboration with other student-veterans, he was able to transform a loose-knit and at that time largely campus-based initiative into a force that united the southwestern Hispanic community under the banner of civil rights reform. It was Ximenes’ aptitude as a citizen scholar—one who navigates fluidly the often conflicting but always overlapping spheres of academic, professional, and civic life—that forged his path from leader of a student organization at UNM to advisor of the President of the United States on Mexican American civil rights.
       I am humbled to have received the honor of a Vicente Ximenes Scholarship in Public Rhetoric and Community Literacy for my work with WAC at UNM. The extent to which my organizing work has been informed by Dr. Ximenes becomes more apparent as Dr. Kells shares through her scholarship more and more of the blueprint inscribed in Ximenes’ rhetorical legacy. Already I am indebted to Ximenes for the concept of the citizen scholar, upon which my dissertation research is based. My study, “Toward a Rhetorical Paideia of Writing in/across/beyond the Disciplines: A Genre Ecology of Citizen Scholarship in the School of Engineering,” follows engineering students involved in a humanitarian project that requires they navigate the often conflicting but always overlapping professional, academic, and civic economies of writing that comprise that endeavor. I hold that such an endeavor is in fact an instance of citizen scholarship, and the cultivation of the citizen scholar the primary objective of liberal education in the 21st century.
       What I want to know is how we can better prepare students for participation in acts of citizen scholarship that will inherently require them to write in, across, and beyond disciplinary and cultural boundaries and ultimately define for themselves what it means to be an active participant in the democratic process. It is my hope that this research will inform the way that inter/disciplinary capstone courses are designed and implemented here at UNM and elsewhere, and thus how writing is taught across the curriculum to prepare students for successfully completing such capstone courses and achieving other goals in their professional and civic lives. I know that the most effective teaching and most impactful learning don’t occur in the classroom but in interactions like the one I recalled above, within instances of citizen scholarship wherein students and their teacher-mentors collaboratively endeavor to effect real-world change, in this case, in a way that honors the legacy of Dr. Vicente Ximenes. It is therefore my hope that the impacts of my own citizen scholarship will serve as one way in which Ximenes’ legacy will live on in the lives of students here at UNM and elsewhere.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Special Communiqué from Provost Chaouki Abdallah

University of New Mexico
Tribute to Vicente Ximenes
Chicano civil rights leader
UNM Alum
UNM Honorary Doctorate Recipient
This week we honor the memory of Dr. (Honorary) Vicente Ximenes' seventy-year legacy of public service to advance education and civil rights in New Mexico, the United States, and the world. Over the course of his long career of public service, Vicente Ximenes was the exemplar of the citizen scholar who ethically and effectively exercised authority and leadership across academic, civic, and professional spheres. Dr. Ximenes passed away on Feb. 27, 2014 at the age of 94, after sixty years of affiliation with UNM beginning in 1947.
In 1951, Dr. Ximenes was the founder of the American G.I. Forum in New Mexico, a national-level veterans' rights group. Dr. Ximenes retired as an Air Force major and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for combat duty in World War II. He served in the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson as U.S. Commissioner of Equal Employment (1967-1972), Chairman of the President’s Cabinet Committee on Mexican American Affairs (1967-1969), and as Vice President for Field Operations for the National Urban Coalition (1972-1973). Dr. Ximenes' unparalleled contributions at the state and national-level distinguish him as one of the most influential figures in US civil rights history. Few leaders have had as far-reaching impact on the lives of the nation's youth in terms of equal opportunity in business, educational, and civic access. In New Mexico, Dr. Ximenes was the founder and chairman of New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps Commission. President Jimmy Carter appointed him Commissioner of White House Fellows (1977-1981), and Dr. Ximenes also received the Common Cause Public Service Achievement Award, Washington D.C. (1982) and the State of New Mexico Distinguished Service Award (1981).
Dr. Ximenes’ education and career were deeply bound up with the University of New Mexico, having earned a BA in Education (1951) and an MA in Economics (1953), and having served as a research associate for the UNM Bureau of Business Research (1951-1961). UNM awarded Vicente Ximenes an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters in 2008.
Later in life, through his collaboration with Dr. Michelle Kells (UNM Department of English), Dr. Ximenes served as an intellectual architect for the UNM Writing Across Communities initiative, recognizing the need for leaders skilled in rhetoric and writing to facilitate cultural, civic, educational, and economic development in New Mexico. He founded the Vicente Ximenes Scholarship in Public Rhetoric and Community Literacy to stimulate research and knowledge in language and literacy that can be utilized to improve human relations across social groups in the state. At least six Ximenes Scholarships have been awarded, and four of those recipients are currently finishing their doctoral dissertations. Dr. Ximenes also served as keynote speaker for the 2007 UNM Civil Rights Symposium, organized by Dr. Kells, who writes about his legacy in a forthcoming book chapter “Vicente Ximenes and LBJ's Great Society: The Rhetorical Imagination of the American GI Forum.”
Michelle Kells notes, “Dr. Ximenes was my guide, my guardian angel, my professional advisor and an intellectual architect for Writing Across Communities at UNM. Trust me, the story of Mexican American civil rights begins and ends with Vicente Ximenes. The Chicano generation of the 1960s gave us no equal! Scholars in History and Political Science see that now.” Vicente Ximenes’ life and legacy demonstrate some of the best contributions of our public flagship university: empowering young people from diverse backgrounds through education, fostering their success in the world, and memorializing their contributions through research and scholarly writing.
A reception in honor of Dr. Vicente Ximenes and his legacy in New Mexico and nationally will be held on Fri., March 28, from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute/Chicana Studies Building at 1829 Sigma Chi Road NE. For further information, contact Dr. Michelle Hall Kells at

“A Giant in Mexican American History” by Henry Cisneros

UNM Civil Rights Symposium: Tribute to Dr. Vicente Ximenes
September 27, 2007
        As much as we would like to believe that history demonstrates a constant progression of humankind, many people continue to suffer as very serious challenges have yet to be overcome. The Latino community is far down the road from where it was in the 1950s, 60s, and even 70s thanks to Dr. Vicente Ximenes and many others; but it also true that the Latino high-school dropout rate is too high, that we work for the lowest wages of any group in the United States, and that our homeownership rate is 20 points under the national average. The Latino level of savings and investment wealth is the lowest of any ethnic group in the United States. The inequities continue and they must be addressed.
       If we Latinos are going to make our full contribution to American society we cannot do it without health insurance, without adequate jobs, without completed educations, and without sufficient skills. The task that lies before us is a major one that our civic activists and our political leaders must commit to with the same courage, the same vision, the same uncompromising spirit, the same relentlessness, and the same sense of belief in America and an unwillingness to be ground down as Dr. Ximenes and his contemporaries showed. That is the task of our national leaders today.
       Whatever progress our leaders make along the traditional ladder of progress, I hope they will always remember, as Dr. Ximenes and others have, their roots and the people who were are still behind. Our narrative must be more than a story of a few people making it to the top; rather it must be a story of those few opening doors so that many others could come behind them. That is the spirit of Dr. Ximenes and the spirit future leaders should have, including many who are still in the universities, high schools, and grade schools. This is a long-term proposition—the building of a great nation and the sustenance of a great people–and Dr. Ximenes certainly set the standard. It is up to us to understand it and follow.
       Dr. Ximenes’ life was forged in the scrub brush of Floresville in South Texas at a time when there was virulent discrimination against Mexicanos despite the fact that Mexicanos had lived in that area of Texas for hundreds of years. He worked hard within the system to acquire the best education and skills, and, early in life, came to the attention of very important figures like Lyndon Johnson who recognized his political skills, his interpersonal skills, his oratorical and communication skills and, very importantly in due course, his managerial and national leadership potential. He held a series of posts including positions at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and at the State Department, and a political position in the Viva Johnson effort in 1964. He eventually ended up in a very key slot during the early formation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, one of the major 1960s civil rights era organizations, and then made important contributions as the coordinator, secretary, and chair of the effort to create the first cabinet-level position to bring Hispanic affairs to the attention of the national government.
       In the 1960s and 70s organizations such as the American GI Forum and LULAC defined a new level of Latino engagement with the larger society. They engaged on a broad front: education, senior issues, children’s concerns, disability programs, economic progress, corporate board representation, discrimination—in short, the gamut of life for Latinos in America. Much of the energy for establishing these organizations came out of that period and Dr. Ximenes not only encouraged but facilitated the conditions in which these organizations could prosper. At this point Latinos had capable leaders backed by foundations, churches, and labor organizations and sustained by their own sweat equity and recognition of the need to advocate on behalf of our community. So what started in the earlier era with individuals like Dr. Hector Garcia and like Dr. Ximenes ended up later being an army of activists who could change things dramatically—and have. Today we have some 45 national Latino organizations under the roof of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. They meet together to focus on what is important to the 44-plus million Latinos across the United States who are of diverse origins: Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Central American, and South American.
       It is difficult today to comprehend the levels of discrimination and the intensity of challenges which Dr. Ximenes had overcome: patronizing attitudes and the subordination of Mexican Americans in Texas. In some communities in South Texas, Latino veterans could not be buried in the same cemeteries as other veterans who died fighting for our country. Across Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado Latinos were often denied the most basic of rights: the rights to go into public facilities, the rights to vote without a poll tax, the rights to have access to jobs that matched their skills and capabilities. That is the world through which Dr. Ximenes fought his way. When finally the tide began to turn, he was recognized as a figure who could bridge the gap between disenfranchised Mexican Americans and the political and power institutions of our society.
One of the decisive turning points in the struggle was the 1967 El Paso hearings which Dr. Ximenes organized and chaired and which was the first time the government of the United States explicitly created a forum in which Latino grievances and longstanding concerns could be addressed. One of the most significant things about it was the fact that it had the support and endorsement of the President of the United States. We were fortunate to have a President who not only understood civil rights and basic fairness and who fought for the disadvantaged people with whom he grew up—depression-era poor people from Central Texas—but who broadened his understanding to include African Americans and Latinos. President Lyndon B. Johnson never forgot his experiences as a teacher of young Latino children in Cotulla in South Texas! The civil rights movement touched his conscience. Latinos had never been included in the narrative of what was unfair about America and what needed to be changed about America until President Johnson and those 1967 hearings. They were seminally important and the beginning of a massive turnaround in thinking.
       Another critical piece of context is the African American civil rights movement. Dr. King’s leadership of the Montgomery bus boycotts and organization of a national movement, the new commitments which followed in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1962, President Johnson’s pushing of civil rights and breaking the legislative logjams created by those who were opposed through the use of the filibuster and other legislative techniques available to them—all played a part in the lead-up to the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the formation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Also enacted were new commitments student financial aid, fair labor practices, fair housing, and other measures that touched the lives of all Americans, reaching far beyond one group. The Civil Rights Movement created parallel paths within the Latino community, the women’s movement, the environmental agenda, and the quest to aid persons with disabilities. Basically, as Dr. King said, when we open the doors of opportunity, they are opened for everyone. That is exactly one of the most powerful changes which has occurred in our country over the last 50 years. America has been transformed from a society which was unjust, exclusive, overtly discriminatory and segregationist to an inclusive society which though not perfect is clearly more fair and open. Dr. Ximenes was a contributor to that breakthrough period, faithful to those principles, recognized for his skills, and one of our civil rights pioneers.
       In the wake of that period, national organizations were founded which have changed life for Latinos, such as the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project—each of which have touched countless lives. Who could have imagined then that those institutions would so effectively alter the trajectory of Latino integration into American society?
       Young leaders modeled their activism on those who came before, including men such as Dr. Hector Garcia of Corpus Christi, Congressman Henry B. Gonzales of San Antonio, Senators Joe Montoya and Dennis Chavez of New Mexico, and Edward Roybal, the first Latino City Council member in Los Angeles and later Congressman. These were giants and Dr. Ximenes was one of them. He is a key figure in the tremendously important evolution of Latino progress in the United States. I have faith that subsequent generations will continue the momentum; perhaps not in the same ways, perhaps not fighting overt discrimination or manifesting the physical courage that Dr. Ximenes and his contemporaries needed to show, but acting upon a vision appropriate to the times. Hopefully the next generation will complete the job of taking Latinos into the mainstream of American life.
       The Latino progression is one of the most important dynamic forces in the United States. There are major trends which we can see will shape our country—globalization, the continuing evolution of technology, the aging of the population, the migration of populations across America. Certainly one which will be among the most decisive is the Hispanicization of the United States. That is not to suggest the US is going to be a majority Hispanic country, but it is clear that one of the most important demographic realities in the American future will be the energy, the youthfulness, the capacity for hard work, and the ambition that the American Latino community brings to the United States. This is massively important to the American future. A drive by a schoolyard today in almost any major American city reveals a population of children playing in the schoolyard that reflects the shape of the American future captured in the many faces of minority children. Many of those children are Latino, not just in New Mexico, Texas or California; not just in Arizona, Colorado or Florida, but in Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Nebraska, Illinois, New York, and Washington State. All across America as this process unfolds Latinos will take our place among the shapers of America’s destiny. Because we love this country, we want to work for it and make it greater. As we do, let us remember the pioneers, the visionaries, the courageous few, those who were unwilling to settle for lives of discrimination and segregation, and who used their skills for the benefit of a people and a nation. Dr. Ximenes is foremost among those who have worked to create the better life that we enjoy today. 

c/o Professor Michelle Kells, Associate Professor, Rhetoric & Writing,  University of New Mexico  

Brief Autobiography From Dan Cryer in Tribute to Dr. Vicente Ximenes

       In 2012 I received an award of which I am enormously proud, the Vicente Ximenes Scholarship in Public Rhetoric and Civic Literacy. I received it largely for work I had done over the previous four years in UNM’s Writing Across Communities initiative, and I saw it both as a validation and a spur to work harder and more seriously towards my goal of being a citizen scholar. I felt this way because Dr. Ximenes was such an accomplished citizen scholar himself, and if my name was to associated with his I had much to live up to. That was only two years ago, so I am still a long way from my goal, but I am working at it. With Writing Across Communities I led two Civil Rights Symposia and served as secretary of UNM’s Core Curriculum Task Force, which led to an appointment as senior writing fellow for the Dean of Arts & Science’s Writing Intensive Learning Communities Pilot Project. Beyond these endeavors I served for one year as a writing tutor for American Indian Student Services, and for two years as Assistant Director of Core Writing in UNM’s English department. I am a recipient of the Office of Graduate Studies’ Future Faculty Award, the Susan Deese-Roberts Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, and a year-long fellowship from the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Foundation, under which I am currently completing a dissertation on the environmental activist Aldo Leopold, which I will defend this Fall.
        For me, Dr. Ximenes’s accomplishments provide a kind of model – not in precisely what he did, because I know we all have our own contributions to make, but in how he lived out his principles. He dedicated himself to helping people at the economic fringes of society speak for themselves and live with dignity. He understood that civic action requires an understanding of people’s daily lives and how they are affected by their relationships with their government, their jobs, and their families. I try to remain mindful of these principles in the way I conduct myself as a scholar, teacher, and colleague. In my dissertation, I argue that Aldo Leopold’s life and work are most useful to us when viewed through the lens of what I am calling “citizen ecology.” A citizen ecology represents the full range of activities an individual brings to bear on living conscientiously within a polity. Drawing on green citizenship, publics theory, ecofeminism, theories of rhetorical silencing, and genre theory, my dissertation explores Leopold’s large archive to show how citizenship is enacted at the intersection of the public and private spheres; how Leopold’s activism in the Southwest tragically exploited and silenced Apache, Navajo, and Pueblo peoples; and how he used different genres to speak for non-human nature in the democratic process. The dissertation concludes by arguing that both citizenship and environmental rhetoric are most useful to scholars and activists when understood as forms of practical judgment that shape and respond to complex problems.
        Dr. Ximenes’s living out of his principles also informs my teaching. In Writing Across Communities we talk about teaching three kinds of literacy to our students: civic, academic, and professional. With these fluencies students will be well positioned to move purposefully in the world in and beyond our classrooms, and to see the connections between their political lives, their academic lives, and their professional lives, as Dr. Ximenes did so clearly. We also talk about honoring the fluencies students bring to our classrooms, and about making clear to students that their new literacies are additions to rather than replacements of the ones they developed before we met them. Dr. Ximenes used his position to amplify the voices of people who might otherwise not have been heard. In similar if more modest ways, I try to help students amplify their own voices with new fluencies, new literacies, while honoring the ones they bring from their homes and adopted communities. Dr. Ximenes will continue to effect positive change while being greatly missed. 

c/o Professor Michelle Kells, Associate Professor, Rhetoric & Writing,  University of New Mexico

Monday, March 3, 2014

An Open Invitation...

Guests are invited to submit tributes, memories, photos, dichos, reflections, and stories about Dr. Ximenes to this blog.

Please send your questions, suggestions or submissions to:
Mike Guffey, Blog Support, Vicente Ximenes Legacy at:

Dr. Vicente Ximenes' Obituary

XIMENES, VICENTE TREVINO "CHENTE" Vicente Trevino Ximenes, and in family circles known as Chente, passed away on February 27 and has joined his lifelong love Maria; son Estevan; sister Hercilia Toscano; and brothers Ben, Edward and Waldo. Vicente would say in moments of reflection, how his path through life was started in a small town in Floresville, Texas, serving his country on the world stage, being a voice for justice and equality for all people, returning to serve his State of New Mexico, his city of Albuquerque, his neighborhood and finally his beloved community at La Vida Llena. Woven throughout his service and accomplishments was his steadfast support and love of his "familia," his son, Ricardo Ximenes and wife, Patricia; daughters Olivia and husband, Patrick Harrington, and Ana Maria and husband, Steve Baroch; daughter-in-law Patty Snipes; granddaughter Theresa Ximenes; our great granddaughters Chloe and Madison Ximenes-Merrill; brother Joe Ximenes; sister Magdalena Valdez; sister in law Mary-Lou Ximenes, and all our familia in San Antonio and Floresville, Texas, which is lovingly and happily large. Our father's beautiful life story includes many special friends, so please consider this a personal note of thanks and gratitude for being a part of his life and sharing his adventure. As a family, we thank Mando and Jackie Lopez for the circle of love that you wrapped around our family. To our cousin Linda Ximenes: Chente loved your visits. To everyone who shared Vicente's journey, like the Mexican corridas, that told the history of a country and the lives of its people, you are a part of his song and forever in our "canciones de nuestro padre" (songs of our father). A Rosary Service will be held Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 6:00p.m. at FRENCH - Lomas. A Graveside Service will be held Friday March 7, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. at Mt. Calvary Cemetary, 1900 Edith NE, 87102. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Vicente Ximenes Scholarship Fund in care of Michelle Hall Kells, University of New Mexico, Department of English, MSC 032107, Albuquerque, NM 87131. Please visit our online guestbook for Vicente at FRENCH - Lomas 10500 Lomas Blvd. NE (505) 275-3500 

*Originally published in the Albuquerque Journal.