MSUToday
Published: Oct. 15, 2019

Julian Samora Research Institute marks 30th anniversary

Contact(s): Carla Hills University Outreach and Engagement office: (517) 353-8977 hillsc@msu.edu, Ruben Martinez Julian Samora Research Institute office: (517) 432-7183 rmartinez@jsri.msu.edu

The Julian Samora Research Institute, or JSRI, one of academia’s most respected voices for interdisciplinary research on Latinos in the Midwest and the U.S., is marking its 30th anniversary with a conference designed to address one of the most challenging times in history.

“Latina/os and the Renewal of U.S. Democracy” will take place from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 at the East Lansing Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. The event will cover health disparities, business ownership and entrepreneurship, and service delivery gaps. Registration is currently open, available here.

The namesake of JSRI was Professor Julian Samora, a pioneer Mexican American sociologist and research scholar who taught at MSU from 1957 to 1959. He was committed to the ideal that research make contributions to the betterment of Latinos, their families, communities and the nation.

When JSRI was established in 1989 by the MSU Board of Trustees, the purpose was to address the absence of systematic information and knowledge on Latino issues in the Midwest. Today, JSRI remains committed to the original mandate and has expanded efforts nationally through research, community outreach initiatives and student mentorship. Dr. Samora, Dr. Ernesto Galarza and Herman Gallegos founded the Southwest Council of La Raza, the precursor to UnidosUS, a leading national Latino advocacy organization.

Under the leadership of Dr. Rubén O. Martinez since 2007, JSRI’s series of statewide summits on Latino issues have identified and prioritized challenges such as education, immigration rights, health and health care, civic engagement, media portrayal of Latinos, economic development, jobs and employment, statewide advocacy, civic rights and discrimination issues.

“These issues are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago and are perhaps even more critical to the future of Latinos and the nation,” said Dr. Martinez. “We see today that there is still a critical need to guard and protect human rights—refugees detained in squalid conditions, children separated from their parents, inequities in wages, healthcare and laws—these are examples of the need for continual study and application of knowledge by those who understand the status of Latinos in the U.S. and care about a better America. JSRI’s work has been strong for 30 years and we know there is more to be accomplished.”

During its 30-year history, JSRI has sustained Dr. Samora’s vision while working at the forefront of several initiatives to increase awareness of the histories, cultures and issues of concern for Latinos and immigrants. Dr. Samora passed away in 1996.

In the 1980s, JSRI was central to the development of the Midwest Consortium for Latino Research and worked with the Mexico-U.S. Consortium for Academic Cooperation, the Council on Western Hemispheric Studies, the Michigan Educational Opportunity Fund and the Michigan Nutrition Network.

In recent years, JSRI has been instrumental in the establishment and work of the North Central Education/Extension and Research Activity, an interstate initiative across the 12 Midwestern states that encourages and fosters multidisciplinary research, education and outreach efforts on Latinos and immigrants in the Midwest.

The 30th anniversary conference features two prominent speakers with timely topics:

   • Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019
     Suzanne Oboler, Professor of Latin American and Latina/o Studies
     John Jay College of the City University of New York

   • Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019
     Baldemar Velasquez, Co-founder and President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee

Celebration and related events include:

   • Music Concert, free and open to the public
     7:30-9:00 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019
     “Venas que Permanecen Abiertas”
     Gustavo Cortiñas Snapshot featuring Juan Daniel Castro
     Cook Recital Hall, MSU Music Building, 333 W. Circle Drive

   • Campus Museum Exhibits
     “The Edge of Things: Dissident Art Under Repressive Regimes”
      Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University

   • Between Absence and Presence: The Arpilleras Movement in Chile
     MSU Museum, 405 W. Circle Drive

More information is available at the JSRI website.