Award-winning filmmaker, producer, entrepreneur, activist, and owner of Maya Cinemas, Moctesuma Esparza will give a talk at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) as part of the Walter Presents series on September 27 at 6 p.m. in the Dezember Reading Room of the Walter Stiern Library. The Walter Presents event is part of the celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month.
“We’re very pleased that Moctezuma Esparza will be Stiern Library’s guest for Hispanic Heritage Month. His work in film and business is well known and I am certain his talk will be inspiring,” said Dean of the Walter W. Stiern Library, Curt Asher.
Students will be interested to find out more on Esparza’s path to success, his films and why the arts matter for everyone, especially those who are economically disadvantaged.
Esparza has done much for this community. He established Maya Cinemas, a chain of modern move theatre complexes with the focus on providing main stream entertainment in Latino centric underserved communities. As a filmmaker, Esparza is most-known for his production credits on “Selena,” “The Milagro Beanfield War,” “Gettysburg,” “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” and HBO productions, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” and “Walkout.”
Esparza founded the Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise Charter School, is Co-Founder of NALIP, Co-Founder and former Chair of the NAA, and is a Founding Board Member of the Sundance Insitute. He has served the City of Los Angeles as a Commissioner to the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System and was also appointed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the planning commission of the National Museum of the American Latino. He is also a trustee of the American Film Institue. He has been nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy, and has been awarded with more than 200 honors and awards including an Emmy, Clio, John F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Ohio State Award, Cine Golden Eagle and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Los Angeles Region as well as being listed as one of the most influential Latinos in the US consistently for over three decades.
As we have seen recently in the news, book censorship of all kinds – even book-burning – continues today. To celebrate Banned Books Week (Sept. 25 through Oct. 2) I partnered with Brent Eviston, the head designer from the Bakersfield Museum of Art, to create a dynamic display on the main floor of the Walter W. Stiern Library. The display encourages students to read books that have been banned or challenged in libraries and schools across the United States.
I implemented a variety of outreach efforts to bring students to the library, but the large “Banned Books” display has been most successful at drawing the students’ attention in the midst of their busy day. We collaborated to create a dramatic display where students can read about the challenging and banning of books, can take lists of such books in the CSUB Library, and can also check out a selection of banned or challenged books directly from the display. Having such books available in our library is of vital importance in a free society. “The freedom to read,” says Library Dean Rod Hersberger, “is the most important value that binds all librarians regardless of their political philosophy.”
CSUB Senior Alan Crane responded to seeing the display, saying that the library “should make this display permanent – this is something that most American college students probably don’t think about.”
A quote from Noam Chomsky featured in the display reads, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise we don’t believe in it at all.” But, book challenges continue to come from parents, teachers, clergy members, elected officials, or others, and arise due to objections to language, violence, sexual or racial themes, or religious viewpoint. In 2009, the American Library Association reported 460 challenges but of course many other cases go unreported. Frequently challenged titles include classics such as “The Great Gatsby” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Banned Books Week was started in 1982 by the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association to raise awareness of censorship. Banned Books Week is celebrated by friends of free expression. Hersberger reminds us that “without the freedom to read, there is no freedom.”
Stop by the Walter W. Stiern Library before Oct. 8 to see the Banned Books Display in person.