One of the nation’s first civil rights case will be celebrated at Adams State University on April 12 with a historic talk about the Maestas Case by the Honorable Martin Gonzales and the unveiling of the bronze relief of “Cruzando Los Traques” commemorating the case. The sculpture will find a temporary home on the Adams State University campus in McDaniel Hall, and will be permanently installed in the Alamosa County Courthouse in October, 2022. The presentation is part of the Adams100 Speaker Series, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Adams State.
Depicting two young children on their way to school, the bronze is a dedication to community activism, resistance, educational rights and faith in the US Justice System to uphold the rights of all citizens. The artwork was created by Reynaldo “Sonny” Rivera of New Mexico.
From 1912 until 1914, Francisco Maestas and other Hispanic parents challenged the Alamosa School District to allow students to attend the school of their choice. At the time. the district supported two schools: one for English speakers and the other for the children of Spanish speaking families. Although the Maestas children spoke English they were denied access to the school closest to their homes. The families eventually took their case to court and District Court Judge Charles Holbrook ruled in favor of Francisco Maestas.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with the local Maestas Case Committee and to highlight this important historic event in the San Luis Valley, as part of our Adams100 celebration,” said President Cheryl D. Lovell, Ph.D.
An unveiling of the monument will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, in McDaniel Hall, northwest entrance. The presentation by the Honorable Martin Gonzales will follow in McDaniel Hall room 101. Gonzales was the first Hispano 12th Judicial District Court Judge in Colorado. A lifelong resident and fifth generation to the San Luis Valley, Judge Gonzales, chair of the Maestas Case Committee, has served the San Luis Valley for the entirety of his career. He will retire from the bench on April 1, 2022. Ronnie Mondragon will join Gonzales for the presentation. Mondragon is a research attorney for the 12th Judicial District and an Alamosa native.
The Maestas Case Relief was donated by LeRoy and Rosalie Martinez, San Luis Valley natives from La Jara and Los Sauces, whose families homesteaded in the Valley in the 1800s. They and their families have faced discrimination first-hand. The couple believes “that education is the great equalizer. We felt moved to donate the bronze relief to commemorate the Francisco Maestas et al vs. George H. Shone et al. case, so future generations would continue to learn from the past and push forward to a brighter future.” Rosalie Martinez, Adams State Class of 1986, earned a degree in business with a focus in accounting. She also earned a master’s in business administration with a focus in management from Colorado State University. Rosalie Martinez was a professor at Adams State and taught introduction to business, business law, accounting, business computer applications, statistics and production and operations management. She also became the first woman in the Adams State President’s Cabinet as associate vice president of administration.
For more information visit the Maestas Case.
The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Masks are now optional and a personal choice at Adams State.