SWOP's Youth Organizer Amanda Gallegos was featured in a running documentary by PBS called The Great American Read. Amanda spoke on her experience growing up Chicano and how the book Bless Me, Ultima helped shape her as a youth in New Mexico. Her segment starts around 1 hour 13 minutes.
"The family in this story is very similar to my family. We're very rooted to our land, and to the traditions that have existed here. The reasons why I identify with this book are the same reasons why it was banned." The ban on ethnic studies inspired Amanda to do as much work as she could to enable people like her to grow up in a reality that includes the history, values, and traditions of their ancestors.
Bless Me, Ultima is a coming-of-age novel by Rudolfo Anaya centering on Antonio Márez y Luna and his mentorship under his curandera and protector, Ultima. Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will probe the family ties that bind and rend him, and he will discover himself in the magical secrets of the pagan past-a mythic legacy as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world...and will nurture the birth of his soul.
"It's important that folks have access to books like Bless Me, Ultima" because we need to see ourselves in literature so that we feel empowered. Our stories as young people of color, as Chicanxs, as New Mexicans, matters."