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Annual Tom�s Rivera Conference Set For April 28

20th Annual Tomás Rivera Conference Moves to UCR's Palm Desert Graduate Center

Michoacan's top migrant affairs official will be featured at April 28 event focusing on the arts, education and U.S.-Mexico relations.

(April 27, 2007)

PALM DESERT, Calif. ( -- Jesus Martinez-Saldaña, legislator of migrant affairs for Michoacan, Mexico, will be the featured speaker at UC Riverside's 20th annual Tomás Rivera Conference on Saturday, April 28. His topic is "New Rights and New Directions in 2007 for the Michoacan Migrant."

The conference is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. at the Palm Desert Graduate Center, 75-080 Frank Sinatra Drive. Admission is free.

The event, which honors the memory of UCR Chancellor Tomás Rivera, this year also observes the 34th anniversary of Festival Floricanto, a celebration of the arts of the people held throughout the United States. The term "floricanto" derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec) phrase, "In Xochitl in Cuicatl" -- flower and song.

Organizers moved the event to the Palm Desert Graduate Center from the Riverside campus this year in part because many Coachella Valley residents are concerned about U.S.-Mexico relations, said Juan Felipe Herrera, who holds the Tomás Rivera Chair in Creative Writing at UC Riverside.

"This year we're talking about U.S.-migrant relations and hands-on education issues," Herrera said. "Jesus Martinez-Saldaña is the legislator in charge of migrant affairs in the United States. He will present the newest information on migrant issues and rights. It�s important to clear up misconceptions."

Herrera said educators and parents are especially welcome to attend.

Tomás Rivera, a Chicano poet and educator, was UCR's chancellor from 1979 to 1984. He was the first Hispanic Chancellor in the UC system. He died in 1984 after a heart attack.

Rivera read from his landmark novel, "Y So Lo Tragó La Tierra (And the Earth Did Not Devour Him)," at the first National Chicano Floricanto Literature Festival in 1973 in Los Angeles.

"He saw literature as a community-centered practice," Herrera said. "Providing more access for the voices of the community is very much at the heart of Tomás Rivera's vision, to support and encourage new writers and artists, and to focus on families that one way or another are marginalized."

The conference will feature two main speakers and a series of workshops that celebrate the talents of particular artists or empower families to be more active in their children�s schools. Many of the presentations will be in English and Spanish.

Featured speakers are:

- Margarita Robles, who created the Clovis West High School "Hispanic Young Women's High School Conference" and advises educators how to work more effectively with Latino parents. Her topic is "Tomás Rivera's Idea of Leadership for You and Your Family."

- Jesus Martinez-Saldaña, Michoacan Migrant State Legislator, who previously taught in the Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies at California State University, Fresno.

Scheduled workshop presenters are: Nestor Dimas Huacuz, director of the Indigenous Cultural University of Michoacan; Tim Z. Hernandez, a San Francisco poet, muralist and community organizer; Amalia Alvarez, a Tomás Rivera Research Fellow in the UCR Department of Creative Writing; Andre Mohammad Anghe, a Hispanic musician from San Jose; Ashley Robles, a 12-year-old writer and Internet blogger from Redlands; Ruben Martinez, a musician and award-winning journalist whose essays, opinions and stories have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, and Dick Keis, director of Libros y Familias Program, a family literacy project for Spanish-speakers in Independence, Ore.

The conference is sponsored by the UCR Tomás Rivera Endowment/Department of Creative Writing, UCR Chicano Student Programs, and RAICES, a community-based organization that promotes artistic and cultural expression in the eastern Coachella Valley.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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