Cecilia Rosales Ph.D.

Bring on 2011

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High five, we survived 2010: the economic slump, local lunacy and political vitriol nationwide. Now it’s time to turn our attention to Arizona’s imminent milestone of 100 years of statehood. One-hundred long, interesting and defining years.

Festivities will kick in to high gear in February, when the state will officially launch ongoing centennial celebrations leading up to Statehood Day, February 14, 2012. Everyone is encouraged to partake in activities and projects sanctioned by the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission.

One such project is The Arizona Memory Project (AMP), a formidable online service of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. It was granted an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project designation and, as its name implies, seeks to compile vital elements of Arizona’s memories – our memories. Over 65,000 digital items, including official documents, photographic collections, biographies of notable individuals and much more, can be accessed by visiting http://azmemory.lib.az.us. You will be pleasantly surprised by the variety and diversity of the collections.

We’ve heard ad nauseam that our state has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. But it’s true, not only because of the makeup of its current population, but more importantly, because diversity has also been an integral part of its history. Over 20 Native American tribes are represented in the state, and history detectives and trivia aficionados may relish in the fact that the Spanish flags of Castille and that of the Cross of Burgundy, the Mexican flag, the Confederate flag, and the flag of the United States, have all flown over what we now know as Arizona.

Oftentimes, however, this cultural plurality is not patently obvious in the historiography of Arizona. Some contend that the contributions of some minority ethnic groups are not widely known, because they have been neglected by historians; others chalk it up to institutional bias.

While Winston Churchill’s famous phrase comes to mind, “History is written by the victors,” we are also reminded that “we only see what we know.” Therein lies our collective, social responsibility to come together to procure and support initiatives that reflect the rightful place in our state’s history.

To address this, Latino Perspectives Magazine, in partnership with the Raul H. Castro Institute, has contributed two humble collections to the Arizona Memory Project: Arizona Latina Trailblazers and Arizona Latinos in Public Service, compilations of biographies, video interviews and articles on those who have had an impact in our state. I invite you to read the fantastic stories of women like Trinidad Mejia Escalante de Swilling, the Mother of Phoenix;  Romana Acosta Bañuelos, the first Mexican American U.S. treasurer; or Luisa Ronstadt Espinel, our music ambassador to the world. Countless other inspiring Arizona stories are waiting to be told.

Local historian Pete R. Dimas is doing his part. To get us in the mood for the centennial celebration, in this month’s cover story he shares with us his latest undertaking: an ambitious documentary aptly entitled Arizona’s Mexican Heritage: An American Story.

Enjoy.

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