MEZCLA: Making Little 500 History

Sketch of Mezcla team logo.

I processed a new accession for the Indiana University Latino Cultural Center (La Casa) records, which doubled the size of the original collection. Since this new accession was much larger in size and scope than the present collection, I was able to rework and alter the entire collection that resulted in the formation of new series, such as Administrative, Correspondence, and Publications,  and consolidating old series to new reimagined ones, such as Associations, Events, Subject Files, and General Files. The newly updated collection now has eight boxes total, and it is my hope that it is better presented for researchers, students, and community members who have an interest in the Latino community in Bloomington and at Indiana University. While processing this collection, I came across a folder titled MEZCLA, as well as several sketches of a bicycle with Mezcla stylized across the top, and I was curious to learn what this was exactly. After looking through the folder and searching online, I learned that Mezcla is a Little 500 team, the first Latino Little 500 team to be exact. A year ago, I had the opportunity to look through and start processing the scrapbooks for the IU Student Foundation Little 500 event, so seeing this team, Mezcla, mentioned in the Latino Cultural Center records really stood out to me. Since the Little 500 race is happening again, I thought it would be fitting to highlight a piece of Little 500 history.

Since 1951, the Little 500 bicycle race has been a treasured student and university event and has seen many changes over the past 70 years. Originally, it was a male student dominated event but in 1988 the first women’s race was held. Starting out as a modest event where the bicycle race was the only attraction, in the decades that followed the Little 500 grew into a weeklong event of activities that included, at times, the Mini 500 tricycle race , concerts, golf tournaments, talent shows, fashion shows, and regattas. Over time, the event would also see historical firsts in terms of increasing the representation of underrepresented students and communities in Bloomington and at Indiana University.

Indiana Daily Student April 22, 1996 newspaper clipping featuring Jerry Gutièrrez.

In 1995, the formation of the first Latino team was a significant step in the diversification of the majority-white  Little 500. The event can be costly for teams without sponsorships, so various letters of sponsorship were sent out to companies starting in winter of 1995. Jerry Gutièrrez, a member of the first Latino team, drafted numerous letters asking for sponsorship well into the summer of the following year. Unfortunately, most companies’ responses were rejection letters, but that did not discourage history being made. Some of the original riders who participated in the first race and interested riders included Jerry Gutièrrez, Ben Abney, Derrick Espades, Gus Chavez, Sergio Magan̂a, and Erik Teter. The 1996 race, the 46th annual race, was the debut race of the Mezcla Little 500 team. The men’s team qualified in this race with a time of 02:41.53.1, with a placement in the 11th row. At the race, Mezcla placed 31st and completed a total of 176 out of 200 laps.

Indiana Daily Student April 17, 1996 newspaper clipping of the design for the Mezcla jersey.

In 1998 Mezcla became a student organization with the purpose of providing an avenue for Latino students to participate in the Little 500 race. For the next three years, Mezcla qualified and raced in the Little 500, with their best race in 1998, wherein they placed 12th and completed 195 out of 200 laps. After 2001, the men’s Mezcla team leading riders had all graduated, and it would not be until 2005 that the men’s Mezcla team would qualify again.

In 1997, a group of female students were ready to carry on the Mezcla legacy as the first women’s Latino Little 500 race team. That year the first women’s Mezcla team placed 23rd with a time of 01:11:08.889 and completed 93 out of 100 laps.

The Herald Times April 22, 2004 newspaper clipping featuring Anette Soto, Barbara Alvarado, and Liliana Cortez.

It was not until 2004 that the women’s Mezcla team would qualify again for the race, though the team would go on to compete in nine additional races through 2014, the last time they qualified. The riders from the 2004 team were Josefa Madrigal, Anette Soto, Liliana Cortez, Monica Reyes, Rosa Bonilla, and Barbara Alvarado. The women’s Mezcla team’s best race time wise was in 2005 with a time of 01:08:50, while their best race lap completion was in 2014 with 97 out of 100 laps completed, placing them 16th.

If not for the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 race would have been the 70th Men’s race and 33rd Women’s race. However, the race was rescheduled and is happening once again on Wednesday, May 26 in the Bill Armstrong Stadium.

For more on this piece of Indiana University history – and more – the Indiana University Latino Cultural Center records can be viewed by appointment with University Archives.

Celebrating 20 years of the Asian Culture Center at IU

Chancellor Herman B Wells visits students at the Asian Culture Center, January 2000.

As the Asian Culture Center (ACC) prepares to celebrate 20 years on campus, the University Archives are happy to announce that the records of the ACC (Collection C691) are now open for research.

Opened in 1998, the Asian Culture Center was the first center of its kind in the Midwest. In addition to daily activities and numerous events (Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, CultureFest, Holi, Lunar New Year to name only a few), the Center serves as resource that is open to the entire IU community. Over the years, the faculty, staff, and students at the ACC (led by director Melanie Castillo-Cullather since 1999) have successfully campaigned for an Asian American Studies Program (created in 2008); advocated for more diverse recruitment; established a lasting network of Asian Alumni; facilitated dialogue in response to acts of racism on campus; provided scholarships; the list goes on and on.

A newspaper article from the aftermath of murder of Won Joon-Yoon, a Korean graduate student, on July 4, 1999.

Next month’s anniversary (October 11-13, 2018) celebrates 20 years since the opening of their facilities on East Tenth Street, but what you may not realize is the dream of an Asian Culture Center reaches back another 10 years, to 1988! This collection documents the growth and development of the ACC, including background research into the Asian population at IU and the growing call to action in the early 1990’s.

Tireless organizing by faculty, staff, and students made this dream a reality. We wish to not only to congratulate the Asian Culture Center on 20 years of outstanding advocacy for the Asian community, but to recognize 30 years of activism culminating in the recognizable presence of the ACC today.

A richly detailed history of this timeline (along with more photos, newsletters, and articles) can be found on the anniversary website.

India Remixed : Indian Independence in Indiana

On August 15, 1947, India, one of the oldest and most populated nations in the world, gained independence from Great Britain. The British East India Company controlled India, from the 1700s until the Indian rebellion of 1857. After the suppression of the revolt, the British Crown took control of the region from the Company. In the years after 1857 and during British rule of the region, calls for reform and Indian self-rule grew. But it wasn’t until 1947, after years of growing movements, the rise of Gandhi’s non-violent civil disobedience movement, the “Quit India” movement of the Indian National Congress Party, and after revolts and mass strikes, that India gained its independence. After 90 years of fighting against British Raj (British Rule) and calls for Indian Self-Rule, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 was signed.

Students, professors, and other members of the IU community were certainly aware of the struggles of Indians well before the 1940s. One faculty member, Cecilia Hennel Hendricks, Associate Professor of English, wrote to her family members about a lecture regarding India that she attended at IU in 1931. In her letter, Cecilia describes meeting a man who had met Gandhi and learned why he opposed British rule:

Letter from Cecilia, 1931, Cecilia Hennel Hendricks family papers, Collection C413, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.

“He told of some conversations he had with Ghandi, and said when he asked Ghandi why he opposed the British rule, Ghandi answered that after all India was the country of the Indians, who had owned and ruled it for centuries before England ever existed, and that there were thousands of Indian people as well educated and trained as any English people, and fully able to manage their own government.”

Letter from Cecilia, 1931, Cecilia Hennel Hendricks family papers, Collection C413, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.

Independence Day is now one of only three national holidays in India. It’s celebrated on August 15 and is commemorated with a speech from the Prime Minister, references to the Indian Independence Movement, and celebration through cultural events. Flag hoisting events and kite flying in some areas are also hosted around India as a part of the celebration. Around the world, Indian emigrants celebrate with parades and events of their own, sometimes referring to the day as ‘India Day.’

Indian Students Invite President Bryan to attend Independence Celebration. C69, Box 3.

At Indiana University, Indian Independence was celebrated as early as 1948. Indian student Ramnarase Panday was particularly active while attending Indiana University. He and another student, Raghubir Bhatia, organized that first Indian Independence Day celebration at IU. They asked President Wells to speak at the event at Alumni Hall, and invited others from around campus, including President Emeritus William Lowe Bryan, to attend the celebration.

Panday was from Beharr, India and attended the College of Arts and Sciences at IU. He earned his A.B. in Government in 1950 and his M.A. in History in 1952. He was a very active member of the college community. As an undergraduate, Panday was in the Cosmopolitan Club, a student organization for international students and cultures, and once in graduate school, he joined Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

Ramnarase Panday with President Wells, July 28, 1948. IU Archives image no. P0073656.

The celebration of India’s first Independence Day at IU must have been a momentous occasion for everyone who attended. While we have been unable to find further records documenting the event or information on additional students who assisted with the celebration, we suspect that Panday and Bhatia were likely the only two students organizing the event.

President Herman B Wells spoke at the inaugural celebration in Alumni Hall:

“Birthdays are happy occasions whether they mark the passing of a year in the life of an individual or a nation. We are met tonight to celebrate an unusually significant birthday which marks the end of the first year of independence for one of the world’s oldest and largest nations – a nation rich in physical resources, in manpower, and in cultural acheivement. It is a privilege therefore to join with you in extending our congratulations and good wishes to the Indiana University students from India and through them to the great nation which they so ably represent.”

C137 Wells’ Speech on India Independence Day at IU, August 8, 1948 – click on image to read Wells’ full speech

This celebration marking India’s independence was significant and marked the growing diversity of the university.

Contemporary MLK: 1960s Civil Rights Documentaries from IU Collections

Please join the IU Libraries and the Office of the Bicentennial in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Thursday, January 19 from 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm for a screening of several civil rights documentaries. These rare documentaries were made during and just after Dr. King’s life, offering a historical lens into how he was viewed and understood by a contemporary audience. The screenings will take place in the new screening room in the Moving Image Collections and Archives on the ground floor of the Herman B Wells Library.

P0026099
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Service in the IU Auditorium on April 5, 1968. Indiana University Archives.

Many of the films for the screening come from the educational film collection of the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive. They were produced for the purpose of teaching about civil rights, discrimination, and the activism of Dr. King. Though the specifics of the historical and political moment have changed between when they were made and the current day, the questions the films raise remain relevant. How do the ideals of America match up with the day-to-day reality of racial and economic inequality? What is the proper way to effect social change? What lessons can we take from Dr. King’s life?

A digital exhibit highlighting materials related to Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights from IU collections will also be on display outside of the Moving Image Archive’s screening room all day. Images were generously provided by the Archives of African American Music and Culture, Black Film Center/Archive, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University Archives, Jerome Hall Law LibraryLilly Library, and Mathers Museum of World Cultures. This exhibit gives a glimpse into the historical documents, photographs, literature, and art related to civil rights and Martin Luther King, Jr. from IU repositories across campus, demonstrating the rich research value and diversity of IU’s collections.

King, Martin Luther. Why We Can’t Wait. New York: Harper & Row, [1964]. Courtesy, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
King, Martin Luther. Why We Can’t Wait. New York: Harper & Row, [1964]. Courtesy, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
The screening lasts from 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm. It is intended as a drop-in event, so please come and see as many of the films as your schedule allows. From 4:00 pm to 4:45 pm, there will be a brief lecture by Professor Alex Lichtenstein from the IU Department of History. A break with complimentary snacks will follow.

Location: Moving Image Collections and Archive (Ground Floor of the Wells Library, Room 048)

By Andy Uhrich and Kristin Leaman

The Education Vacation: Mini University

 Each year, hundreds of individuals flock to Bloomington to attend what Fromer’s Travel Magazine has consistently referred to as one of the best learning vacations in the United States. With record setting attendance over the last few years, Indiana University’s widely popular Mini University now consistently sells out. However, the program came from much more modest beginnings.
Founded in 1972 as a result of a partnership between the Indiana University Alumni Association and the Bloomington Office of Continuing Studies, the first program hosted approximately 75 participants and functioned more as a family summer camp for both children and adults. Spanning the course of a week, participants brought their families to campus, lived in the dormitories and attended a variety of lectures and courses while their children attended their own programs. Adults chose from an option of 25 course listings taught by some of the most distinguished members of the university faculty. Courses were divided into six different categories: compelling issues of the ’70s on topics such as “China in the ’70s”, international issues, the family in contemporary society such as “After Spock, What?”, women’s changing role in society, creative participation in arts and the humanities, and preparing for retirement.

Mini University, ca. 1978-1981

Picnic, ca. 1978-1981

Children (over the age of five), on the other hand, were loaded each day onto a London double-decker bus for transport to the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building (HPER) for recreation, games, and swimming. Children under the age of five could attend a day nursery. Evening entertainment options for the whole family included rap sessions, visits to the Brown County Playhouse, the IU Fun Frolic as well as a picnic and beach party with campfire along the shores of Lake Lemon. By 1978, the program had expanded to include nearly 60 course options covering topics on the humanities, domestic issues, human growth and development, business, international affairs, science and the arts.
Today, the program is significantly different – there is no longer a children’s program and attendees now stay primarily in the Indiana Memorial Union where the majority of courses are taught.  Open to all adults, not just Indiana University alumni, including qualified teachers seeking continuing renewal credits, the program has now expanded to include more than 100 course selections ranging in topics from business and technology, domestic issues, fine arts, health and fitness, international issues, humanities, music, theater and science. Mini alums receive a newsletter called Mini Happy Returns to keep them abreast of upcoming events. Each year the professors are chosen based upon recommendations from the chairs of their department or other faculty for being outstanding teachers. The 2016 Mini University program reads much like a who’s who of the university faculty and administration such as Lee Hamilton (Center on Congress), and James Madison (History) whose personal papers are all included in the University Library collections, as well as several of our esteemed library colleagues such as Dina Kellams (IU Archives), Carey Beam (Wylie House Museum), and Lori Dekydtspotter, Cherry Williams, Craig Simpson, Rebecca Bauman, and Andrew Rhoda (all Lilly Library).
The University Archives also holds the Mini University records as well as those of the School of Continuing Studies.
For those interested in registering for next year’s program, you can request a brochure here – just remember Mini U sells out QUICKLY!