Ahwatukee Foothills resident and playwright James E. Garcia delivered a statement during the AZ Centennial celebration at the State Capitol asking the Legislature to repeal HB 2281, which led to the shutdown of the Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District last month.

Garcia was invited to perform an excerpt of his play, “An American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Raul H. Castro,” as part of the day’s centennial annivesary events on the main stage of the Arizona State Capitol grounds.

Garcia performed a five-minute excerpt of his play, based on the life story of Arizona’s only Hispanic governor in history.

He then delivered a brief statement in support of the banned program in Tucson and in opposition to the censorship of a series of books used in that program.

The TUSD School Board recently voted to eliminate the program after a state administrative judge ruled that the program violated HB 2281. The ruling came despite an independent audit commissioned by the Arizona Department of Education Superintendent John Huppenthal that concluded that the program did not violate the law. State officials had threatened to cut off $15 million in funding if the TUSD Board did not cancel the program.

A pending federal lawsuit charges that the state’s ruling and decision to shut down the program is a violation of the First Amendment, free speech rights of the students enrolled in the program to learn about the full breadth of American history.

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