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CSU-Pueblo Undergrad to Speak About Neighborhood

Release Date: September 17, 2014

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo

(719) 549-2810

Press Release

PUEBLO – Chicano activism in Pueblo’s Salt Creek Neighborhood will be the topic of an Hispanic Heritage Month lecture at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 30 in Library and Academic Resources Center (LARC) 109.
Pueblo native Jose Ortega, a junior majoring in history and minoring in Chicano Studies at CSU-Pueblo, will present a talk entitled “Barrio de Salado:  Community Unification and Improvement” about Chicano activism in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Salt Creek.  Ortega was a recipient of a Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) grant.  The talk will be preceded by an exhibit and light refreshments in the LARC lobby, at 6 p.m.
According to Ortega, during the 1970s, the Chicano Movement came to the forefront of the larger civil rights movement on a national level. However, smaller cities, like Pueblo, Colorado, also began grass roots movements toward improving their individual communities. This city-wide effort focused on public safety, better education, working conditions, and cultural pride. Salt Creek, or El Salado, began to look within itself to see the injustices that were being done. The water that was being used and consumed by the lower section of Salt Creek was contaminated by pollutants from the slag dump of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I).  Louie “Lugs” Garcia emerged as a powerful and influential community leader, organizing the community in order to incite positive change. He took on this role not as a person with a self-interest agenda, but, rather, to empower self-determination throughout the Salt Creek community.
Ortega has worked for the CSU-Pueblo University Archives for more than two years, primarily on the Colorado Chicano Movement Archives.  He has organized and processed the United Mexican American Students collection and conducted interviews with Chicano activists.  He also  has a personal interest in the Chicano Movement Archives. His uncle, Jose Esteban Ortega, fought for financial aid for Chicano students at CU-Boulder, organized many marches, rallies and protests, gave his personal papers to the CSU-Pueblo Archives.
Ortega remembers being taught that he was Chicano and to be proud of who he was. From simple lessons like being scolded when he called Esteban “uncle” instead of “tio” - “I AM YOUR TIO, TIO! NOT YOUR UNCLE!” - to lessons on policies, “Hijito, a policy isn’t a policy if it isn’t posted or formally written. If they can’t produce a policy, they can’t enforce one.”
Jose has been married to his wife, Leticia, for 14 years. He has three children, Jose, Emilio, and Ayisela.

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