The ‘Founder of Chicano Literature’, Professor Emeritus and New Mexican author, Rudolfo Anaya was honored by President Barack Obama as one of 12 recipients of the 2015 National Humanities Medal. The National Humanities Medal honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizen’ engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources. Anaya was recognized and celebrated for his pioneering stories of the American southwest by the President and First Lady at a White House ceremony on September 22nd in conjunction with the awarding of the National Medal of Arts. His works of fiction and poetry celebrate the Chicano experience and reveal universal truths about the human condition—and as an educator, he has spread a love of literature to new generations. Anaya said that he was “very glad [his] work represents New Mexico and [that] this medal is for the all of the people of New Mexico.”
“That Professor Anaya has been named a 2015 National Humanities Medalist is an incredible honor for him, the English Department and UNM in general,” said Anita Obermeier, current chair of the English Department. “Professor Anaya is one of the founders of the Chicano/a literary canon and his seminal novel Bless Me, Ultima [is] a national treasure.”
Rudolfo Anaya completed his B.A. and two Master’s degrees at UNM before becoming a professor of English at the University. He taught at UNM until 1993 and still contributes to the campus community in many ways, including through his support of an annual lecture series on literature of the Southwest.
This is Anaya’s second time being honored at the White House. In 2001, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush. He is truly a prominent pioneer and artist that were are proud and pleased to have so closely linked to our University.
Carmella Padilla, an accomplished writer in her own right, also has honored Anaya in her article, The Godfather , where she sat down with Anaya and peeled back the layers of cultural experiences, activism and scholarship that is at the heart of his long career.