Over 50 years ago, high school and college students walked out Nationwide, in part, for a better education. Over 50 years ago, high school and college students walked out Nationwide, to see themselves in books and learn their true history. It took just over 50 years to develop accredited elective classes like Mexican American Studies (MAS) here in Texas. Finally, we have arrived, and throughout the city of San Antonio, MAS courses are spreading their Chican@ flames.
Educator Anthony Gonzales, of John Marshall High School, and his students have taken it one step further. Not only are the students able to enroll in his MAS course, but they can also be a part of his after school program called MASSA: Mexican American Studies Student Association, an enrichment program which is intended to be an extension of the class for students who want to dig a bit deeper into the world of MAS, whether it’s through literature, art, music, current events, cultural events, and even community service.
Due to Covid, the young, eager students have not been able to accomplish all they wanted to, but are still moving forward with their beautiful ambitious goals. The Jaime P. Martinez: Thanksgiving in the Barrio of 2020 was just one way these chicanit@s spent their time giving back to their community. The La Prensa Donor Dinner of 2021, was another event they were able to volunteer and offer their services.
Former Public Relations Officer of MASSA, Gracie Hernandz 18, is now a student at Texas A&M San Antonio, and is still giving back to the community, happy to be around others who appreciate the Mexican American culture, including art, music, and dance. Likewise, Monica Cruz 19, former President of MASSA, who is now a Criminal Justice major at Texas State University, finds that these experiences have helped her grow.
Both students are still working with Gonzales and MASSA, staying connected and “expanding the Mexican American Community and beyond,” states Hernandez. Continuing this growth at their school “would not be a success without students like Gracie and Monica,” Gonzales reflects with understandable pride.
“There’s no right or wrong way to be Mexican-American or Chicano,” Cruz comments, “Don’t get caught up in the stereotypes.” And such is the spirit of Chicanismo: giving back to your community while learning where you come from. Adelante.