¡Viva Frank De La Cruz!

We recently received a letter about Frank De La Cruz, former librarian, humanitarian, and social activist who helped establish the El Rio Library in 1972.

The letter came from Raymond "Ray" Siqueiros. Ray is a native Tucsonan of Chicano and Tohono O' odham heritage. He served as a trail-blazing educator in the field of Mexican American Studies in Tucson. He advocated for and taught Mexican American Studies in the Flowing Wells and Sunnyside school districts. After a rewarding career as a widely-recognized high school social studies teacher Ray enjoys his retirement spending time with family and volunteering his talents with his community.

Here is the letter Ray shared with us:

Frank De La Cruz was much more than a librarian; he was a Chicano Librarian. This means that he was a Chicano first, and a librarian second. He identified with La Raza and working-class people of all colors long before he served us as a librarian, as he participated in the historic Chicano protest-movement that established our El-Rio Neighborhood Center. As librarian, Frank was a conduit of service, advocacy, and growth for all, but especially for the oppressed and the youth. I know this first-hand because as an 18-year-old fresh out of Sunnyside High School, I began my life’s purpose and work as a Chicano activist and educator by volunteering at El Rio Neighborhood Center in 1983. In those days as a teenager I had learned somehow that El Rio Center had Tucson’s first and perhaps only publicly supported Chicano library. This trail-blazing beacon of unity and beauty that is El Rio Library is an embodiment of our Chicano movement and Frank’s dedication to its aims. In my youthful search for knowledge and identity, Frank’s guidance proved indispensable. For example, as I’d venture into the library almost daily, Frank in his whisper-soft demeanor would say to me, “Hey Ray, check out this new book written by a Chicano,” or, “Hey Raymond, you should go to this meeting tonight here at the center on immigration.” In other words, Frank’s kind and committed presence proved indispensable in my development as a reader, author, and thinker. More importantly, he also guided me in towards what proved to be a time of explosive growth as a youth activist and leader in our community. Last, Frank’s great gift to me was as a most humble yet firm, consistent example of how to work as a responsible adult committed to Chicano community empowerment. ¡Viva Frank De La Cruz!

Speaking of Frank De La Cruz, have you seen our FDLC collection, which comprises a circulating and reference collection available to all those seeking to enrich their grasp of a history worthy of being known? Check it out!