Harvard Divinity School (HDS) has appointed Associate Professor Álvaro Huerta as one of ten Religion and Public Life (RPL) fellows for 2021-22 to help launch the school’s inaugural certificate program. As a part of the fellowship, Huerta will support a program course, teach, mentor students, identify graduate student internship opportunities and participate in webinars.
“As a son of working-class Mexican immigrants, product of the notorious Ramona Gardens public housing projects (or Big Hazard projects) in East Los Angeles and first-generation university graduate, I’m honored to become a Harvard fellow,” said Huerta.
“To rise from spaces of abject poverty and violence to attend elite universities and be in a position to develop curricula, teach and mentor Harvard graduate students represent amazing and humbling accomplishments for me—someone who started at the bottom of society. While I’m proud of my individual accomplishments, I’m equally proud to set an example for other working-class Chicanas/os and racialized youth (and adults!) to learn a simple, but powerful lesson: It doesn’t matter where you start or your positionality in society, it only matters where you’re going!”
Huerta holds a joint appointment in urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies at Cal Poly Pomona. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Huerta teaches and conducts research on the intersecting domains of community and economic development, Chicana/o and Latina/o studies, immigration and Mexican diaspora, social movements, social networks, and the informal economy.
Based on his background of community organizing in Los Angeles and academia, Huerta has been named the RPL Organizing Fellow and will focus on Latinas/os and the role of religion in social movements such as the United Farm Workers labor union and Católicos por La Raza, a political organization from the late 1960s that sought to empower and advance the Latina/o community.
The predominately remote fellowship will support Huerta’s fall 2021 sabbatical, allowing him to finish his book manuscript, “In Defense of La Raza.” Among a wide selection of scholarly publications, he is the author of the award-winning “Latina/o Immigrant Communities in the Xenophobic Era of Trump and Beyond” and “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm.” He’s also the lead editor of “People of Color in the United States: Contemporary Issues in Education, Work, Communities, Health, and Immigration.”
In addition to this achievement, Huerta also has been a pre-doctoral Ford Foundation fellow and a research fellow at the Latinx Education Research Center at Santa Clara University. He has appeared in numerous media interviews, most recently joining Al Punto on Univision to discuss California’s population decline based on the 2020 Census, focusing on Latinas/os. He holds a doctorate degree in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley, a master’s degree in urban planning and bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA.
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