The Julian Samora Research Institute hosted two scholars in residence during the month of June. Longtime and well-known Chicano leaders José Ángel Gutiérrez and Ernesto B. Vigil joined JSRI and collaborated on an emergent project focusing on “American Democracy and Surveillance:  A Focus on Chicano Movement Leaders.”  Gutiérrez has devoted most of his life to making improvements in the Chicano community through political empowerment. He co-founded the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) and La Raza Unida Party (RUP) with the aspirations of attaining more political representation among Chicanos in elected offices in Texas, the Southwest, and across the country.  Likewise, Vigil, a former member of The Crusade for Justice has dedicated his life to the attainment of social justice for Chicanos.  He served on the Crusade’s executive board for many years.
 Gutiérrez and Vigil, in conjunction with JSRI, worked on the development of a project to collect, digitize, and preserve FBI surveillance files on Chicano/a civil rights leaders and organizations. The collection is one-of-a-kind and will have tremendous appeal among national and international scholars.  Both scholars also worked on book-length manuscripts under review for publication by the Michigan State University Press.
Each scholar shared his current research project with the Michigan State University and Lansing communities. Vigil’s presentation titled “Sra. Juanita Montoya de Martinez/Story to her Grandson: The rebellion of 1847” provided insights on the Mexican and native resistance movement against the American occupation of New Mexico during the U.S.-Mexican War. Gutiérrez’ lecture, “The Massacre at Porvenir, Texas: Justice be Done Now!” highlighted the brutal massacre of Mexican and Mexican Americans by Texas Rangers in the late 1910s. Both lectures raised important questions and concerns over past perceptions and treatment of Mexican Americans and Latinos, topics that remain relevant today.
In working and conversing with Gutiérrez and Vigil one is exposed to a distant past that goes beyond what has been included in the typical historical narrative. It is almost as if one revisits past events as both men are replete with knowledge pertinent to the Civil Rights Movement, the Chicano Movement and the American Indian Movement. Not only did the two men experience the Chicano Movement first hand—Gutiérrez and Vigil were major leaders on the frontlines of the struggles of the period.