Published: March 20, 2019

Students helping hang the UMAS exhibit

The University Libraries are proud to host a panel exhibit celebrating 50 years of UMAS y MEXA de CU Boulder in the Ventana Gallery on the 3rd floor of Norlin Library. On March 20 at 4 p.m., the CU Boulder community is invited to an exhibit reception. The event will feature short talks by Megan K. Friedel, Head of Archives, who supervised the UMAS y MEXA students’ exhibit projects, and Magnolia Landa-Posas of CU Engage at the School of Education, who will discuss what UMAS y MEXA and its history mean today to the CU Boulder campus. 

UMAS is a student organization that empowers Latinx through education and activism. The UMAS exhibit, open to the public in Norlin Library's Ventana Gallery, is a student-led and student-developed exhibit. Students chose the content and collaborated with the Libraries' graphic designer, Andrew Violet, on design and production. The exhibit is arranged into four themes: Solidarity, Education, Activism, and Expression. In Spanish these slogans refer to the founding values of UMAS: El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido, (A House United Shall Never Be Divided) La Educación es Nuestra Fuerza (Education Is Our Strength) Activismo (Activism) and La Voz de la Gente (Voice of the People).

Adán García, a graduate student in Education Policy and Practice who played a key role in the curation of the exhibit, shared his motivation and goal: 

"I hope the exhibit encourages us to remember that there are alternatives and there has and continues to be resistance. And, that these efforts have been strategically targeted toward colonialism, colonialism, and patriarchy. These structures have sought to dehumanize and delegitimize people locally and globally—it is here where people can begin to learn from and about UMAS, and it is from these efforts where we can learn deeper into interconnected efforts toward decolonial futures. This exhibit is both an extended arm of solidarity and of the strength of community organization."

Students helping install the exhibitUMAS was founded at CU Boulder in 1968, and the University Libraries have partnered with UMAS y MEXA’s efforts this academic year to celebrate their 50th anniversary on campus. "This exhibit is the culmination of a collaboration that began in May 2018 and a physical testament to the Libraries' commitment to document and support diversity on the CU Boulder campus," said Friedel.

One of the most moving parts of the exhibit includes quotes from past members, sharing what UMAS means to them:

"UMAS gave me familia, it gave me support. It gave me a place to stand in the present to survive and conquer my future. ‘Que viva la Raza Que Viva UMAS." -Esther Acost, Class of 1981

"I am so grateful for those who came ahead of me to blaze this trail for the rest of us. With the support of my fellow student counselors and tutors, I was successful. I marched and boycotted and marched some more. Through being a part of UMAS I came to understand my heritage and understand my gente." -Wanda Mauro-Garcia, Class of 1977

Thank you to UMAS alumni and community supporters Juan Espinosa, Lorenzo Trujillo, and Sarah Navarro for lending photographs that appear in this exhibit.  Other photographs and iconography come from the United Mexican American Students records (COU:3673) in the CU Boulder Archives and from historical records held by UMAS y MEXA. Thank you to the Friends of the Libraries for their financial support of the exhibit and reception.

All are welcome and invited to attend and share a piece of UMAS's rich 50-year history on campus at the March 20 event in Norlin Library.