“I’m blessed because everything I have ever done was practice for this year. My parents were migrant workers. They always believed in education. Because I was able to study-in a single generation-I've gone from marginalized to defending my community on a national stage. I strive for the day when every young person has access to the American Dream through education.” –Tony Diaz
Originally from Chicago, novelist Tony Diaz is the author of novel THE AZTEC LOVE GOD, which Ishmael Reed selected as the 1998 Nilon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction. Reed called Diaz “Relentlessly brilliant.” Diaz is also included in major anthologies such as HECHO EN TEJAS: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Writers edited by Dagoberto Gilb, and LITERARY HOUSTON edited by David Theis. His essays have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, The Huffington Post, Mamiverse, & the Houston Chronicle. He has just completed his second novel THE CHILDREN OF THE LOCUST TREE which is in the hands of his agent.
Diaz began his graduate studies at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas then moved to Houston to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He became only the 3rd Latino to complete an MFA from that program.
While in graduate school, Diaz began conducting workshops and seminars for different community organizations such as the then-Chicano Family Center and Talento Bilingue de Houston. That work inspired him to remain in Houston after completing his studies. In 1998, Tony Diaz founded Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say to promote Latino literature and literacy. This group would provide the base for the volunteers, writers, activists, and resources that would blossom into the Librotraficante Movement.
Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say
Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say began with a monthly reading series, then added workshops. In 2001, the group founded the Nuestra Palabra Radio Show on 90.1 FM, KPFT, which Tony Diaz still hosts with Librotraficante Lilo Liana Lopez and Librotraficante HighTechAztec Bryan Parras.
In 2002, Tony Diaz brought the Edward James Olmos Latino Book and Family Festival to Houston to create the most successful events in the country for that franchise with over 15,000 people attending the first annual event at the George R. Brown Convention Center featuring Edward James Olmos and Cheech Marin with the release of his book CHICANO VISIONS: AMERICAN PAINTERS ON THE VERGE. This culminated in 2004 with the group’s 3rd annual event drawing 30,000 people and featuring a celebrity author for every major segment off the Latino demographic, including George Lopez with his book WHY YOU CRYIN’?, Univisión former anchors Giselle Blondete and Maria Antionetta Collins, and even Dora the Explorer.
This would create the base of writers, volunteers, sponsors, and national ties that would come together in 2012 to form the Librotraficante Movement in response to Arizona's prohibition of Mexican American Studies. The Librotraficante Caravan was created to smuggle the banned books back into Arizona. 1,000 books were donated from around the country, 4 Under Ground Libraries were created in its wake, and the Latino Literary Renaissance was unleashed.
About Tony Diaz
Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, founded Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say in 1998. He is the leader of the Librotraficantes-champions of Freedom of Speech, Intellectual Freedom, and Performance Protest. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and wrote the award winning novel THE AZTEC LOVE GOD. He also hosts the Nuestra Palabra Radio Program on 90.1 FM KPFT Houston, Texas.
Diaz has refined the tactics of the New Era activist-writer to make local, national and international news with several initiatives including: 1.) The Librotraficante Movement which defies the Far Right attack on Ethnic Studies & Freedom of Speech. 2.) The Harris County ban on piñatas. 3.) Diaz co-founded Protectors of the Dream which awards grants and free legal representation to youth of the Dream Act Movement. 4.) Diaz organized a Texas-wide coalition to stop Texas House Bill 1938 and Senate Bill 1128 which would have effectively dismantled Ethnic Studies and Women's Studies in Texas colleges.
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Everyone tries to define Latinos through Multiculturalism. You need to understand us through Quantum Demographics. -Tony Diaz
"All art is breaking loose," Diaz said. "They knew we weren't going to overthrow the government through violence. We were going to overhaul the government by voting them out of office." -Tony Diaz
"Happily, there is pushback occurring against such anti-intellectualism. One of the most vibrant examples is a protest group called Librotraficante, or Book Trafficker. Organised by Tony Diaz, the group has been caravanning throughout the south-west holding readings, setting up book clubs, establishing "underground libraries," and dispensing donated copies of the books that have been removed from Arizona's public school curriculum." - The Guardian UK