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Worth a Thousand Words: From La Colectiva Cultural to the Collective History

Founded by a handful of Chican@ students in 1986, La Colectiva Cultural de Aztlan was a student organization active at the UW until the early 2000s.

September 07, 2021

Founded by a handful of Chican@ students in 1986, La Colectiva Cultural de Aztlan was a student organization active at the UW until the early 2000s. Its members offered community to Chican@ undergraduate students who struggled to find support elsewhere on campus. Along with groups such as Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán and the Chican@ Graduate Association, La Colectiva fought hard to expand the Chican@ Studies Program into a full-fledged, degree-granting department at UW–Madison. These pictures of La Colectiva reflect the struggles and victories of many Chican@ students throughout their time on campus, from participating in La Marcha en Washington and representing Chican@ culture to graduating from the UW. This photo collection is one of very few artifacts referencing La Colectiva, reminding us that many stories of underrepresented people are often left untold. To remedy this, Professor Emerita Andrea-Theresa Arenas of the UW’s Chican@ and Latin@ Studies Program is heading up the Wisconsin Latinx History Collective (WLHC), a major oral history project shared between UW System schools and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Read more about the WLHC project, including how to get involved. The Badger Vibes team also welcomes any stories from alumni participated in La Colectiva; share your story with us.

A crowd gathers to listen to a speaker at an anti-Columbus Day protest on Library Mall in 2000.

A crowd gathers to listen to a speaker at an anti-Columbus Day protest on Library Mall in 2000.

A UW student from La Colectiva marching in La Marcha en Washington on October 12, 1996.

A UW student from La Colectiva marching in La Marcha en Washington on October 12, 1996.

Students stopping at La Colectiva’s table at the 2003 Multicultural Orientation and Reception and student organization fair.

Students stopping at La Colectiva’s table at the 2003 Multicultural Orientation and Reception and student organization fair.

Students performing at a 1991 Cinco de Mayo celebration sponsored by La Colectiva at Memorial Union.

Students performing at a 1991 Cinco de Mayo celebration sponsored by La Colectiva at Memorial Union.

Members of La Colectiva attending a meeting.

Members of La Colectiva attending a meeting.

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