On Campus | Alumni
Ramon Gutierrez, University of Chicago
Reies Lopez Tijerina and the Religious Origins of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement
The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s encompassed two extremes: the pacifism of Cesar Chavez, who devoted himself to the unionization of agricultural workers in the Southwest, and the radicalism of Reies Lopez Tijerina, who militated for the recuperation of lands unjustly lost by New Mexico's Hispanos after the U.S.-Mexico War's end in 1848. This lecture explores the origins of Tijerina's activism by delving into his religious formation as a Pentecostal preacher, as an Assemblies of God minister, and as the founder of a utopian community preparing the faithful for the second coming of God. In the early 1960s Tijerina had an apocalyptic dream that led him to abandon his ministry and focus on the Laws of God for an interrogation of the Laws of Man. Over the course of ten years he turned his attention from wanting to liberate Christians from their sinfulness, to seeking justice for those Hispanos who lived lives of poverty, racism, and hunger. This lecture charts the transformation of Tijerina's ideology and brings attention to the unique ideas he contributed to the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.
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