The Corky Branch is scheduled to open on February 28, 2015. When the announcement was made to name the latest edition to Denver public libraries after Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, many were none too happy. Some claimed objection stating that Gonzales had “terrorized” their community, threatened police and created disorder. Denver City Council voted 10-2, in support of naming the library after Gonzales despite Councilwoman Faatz’ insults, calling Corky a “terrorist” and a “bully” – because, you know… civil rights, political representation and equitable, effective education isn’t for everybody.
Nevertheless, Denver’s Library Association voted unanimously to name it the “Corky Branch” …and while this may seem innocuous to some, when one of the four horsemen in the Chicano Movement ~ a youth leader, political activist and civil rights advocate who created a spirit of Chican@ unity ~ has a library named after him it’s big effing deal to the Chican@/Latin@ community.
The power of books in the community is immeasurable. Studies have proven that the higher your literacy level, the less likely you are to end up in police crossfire. Let’s not make light of this… we know that brown and black people are far more likely to be brutalized by law enforcement and represent the largest incarcerated population in the US. Libros are our best defense!
Perhaps the real reason so many were protesting against the Corky Branch is because the library will house 27,000 sq ft of mind altering prose, Chican@ and Black History, computers with free Internet, visual media in several languages, reading rooms, a children’s area, teen rooms, and meeting rooms ~ resources useful in the peoples’ liberation. Perhaps the people will read A Message to Aztlan, where Gonzales wrote about his efforts in organizing for effective education in Barrio communities, protested against police brutality and fought for better housing. The location is also important because the it’s near the Auraria CU campus, a public middle school and two public elementary schools ~ resulting in easier access for all those brown and black kids to educate themselves with books written by people that look like they do… increasing educational achievement, supporting economic development, and making them 108% more likely to graduate high school.
In a time where Ethnic Studies are sweeping the nation and the people are rejoicing, states like Arizona and Texas continue to ban books, outlaw Raza Studies, and guns are being legislated into our classrooms ~ Denver is opening Corky’s Library and yes, it’s Hella Important!
Photo of Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales courtesy of Denver Public Library Digital Collections