The National Hispanic Institute recognized Rodolfo Acu’ntilde;a, CSUN professor emeritus of Chicano/a studies, with an award for his active role within the Latino community in a ceremony that took place in the University of Texas in Austin on Sunday.
‘I think it’s wonderful. He is very productive as a scholar and community activist,’ said Jorge Garcia, CSUN professor of chicano/a studies and a colleague of Acu’ntilde;a for 38 years. ‘He has always been interested in promoting and helping others.’
Acu’ntilde;a was awarded with the highest honor of the organization, the National Hispanic Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Acu’ntilde;a,’ an innovative Latino professor and activist, has written and published 19 books’ focusing on the U.S. Latino experience. One of his books, ‘Occupied America: A History of Chicanos,’ published in 1972 is now in its sixth edition.
The National Hispanic Institute’s annual ‘Celebraci’oacute;n’ event was said to also include a national debate championship, which will have more than 150 high-performing Latino high school students from across the nation and Panama, who won top places in a series of summer debate programs held on various college campuses. Acu’ntilde;a said it would be a great opportunity for him to talk to students at the event.
‘I’m satisfied. It gives me an opportunity to speak to students in another state. Normally, activists don’t get a chance to talk,’ Acu’ntilde;a said.
The National Hispanic Institute, which has helped Latino youth both nationally and internationally for about 30 years, was founded in 1979 by Ernesto Nieto. The institute has helped nearly 70,000 Latino students develop leadership and communications skills in order to advance in the’ Latino community in the face of what Nieto calls ‘an ongoing Latino leadership crisis.’
Nieto said the National Hispanic Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award is for people who have done distinguished work in their lives to make the quality of life for Latinos in the U.S. better.
Neito said Acu’ntilde;a has been active enough to receive the National Hispanic Institute’s award, and his research and books are most frequently read by today’s Latino undergraduate and graduate students.
Acu’ntilde;a said he has been working within the Latino community for more than 50 years. ‘One extraordinary thing about him is every time when you talk to him, you learn from him,’ Garcia said. ‘People are doing interesting work, but they repeat. Professor Acu’ntilde;a is always doing new work with new information and new research.’
Acu’ntilde;a has also received awards from other organizations such as the Gustavus Myers Award, the Emil Freed Award, a Distinguished Scholar Award and the Founder’s Award.
Acu’ntilde;a earned his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from the University of Southern California and is the founding chair of Chicano/a studies at CSUN, which is the largest Chicano/a studies department in the U.S. with 30 tenured professors.
During his visit in Austin, Acu’ntilde;a said he planned to give a couple of speeches for the students and faculty at the University of Texas and to be awarded at a banquet event doubling as a fundraiser for the National Hispanic Institute.
‘I’m glad to go back to Austin,’ Acu’ntilde;a said before he left this past weekend.’