Jess Nieto Memorial Conference celebrates Chicano Studies founder at Bakersfield College Delano Campus

May 4, 2023 /

Bakersfield College’s Delano campus will host The Jess Nieto Memorial conference from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on May 6.

The Jess Nieto Memorial Conference celebrates the legacy of Jess Nieto, who founded the Chicano Studies curriculum at BC in the 1970s. He was an activist educator who cared deeply about the valley, its art, culture, people, and history. 

He passed away in 2017 and this conference celebrates his legacy by showing casing scholarship and art that he would care about. 

The conference will be held over three days at BC Panorama, Robert F. Kennedy high school in Delano Friday, May 5, and the BC Delano Campus Saturday, May 6. Attendees will get to tour all BC campuses in its various locations.

“We are especially excited about the historic tours of Delano. The farm worker movement sites in Delano are on the federal registry of historic sites in the U.S. The tour will make you see Delano in a new light,” said Oliver Rosales, a history professor at Bakersfield College.

On Thursday, May 4, at BC Panorama, there will be free food and a performance by BC Theater students of Teatro Campesino by Luis Valdez. On Saturday, May 6 in Delano, there will be free bus tours of historic Delano sites associated with the farm worker movement, plus a free Mexican lunch for attendees. They will also close the conference with additional teatro performances, which will be the first time teatro campesino has been performed in Delano since the 1960s.

“There will be tables with non-profit and community groups in Delano Saturday, May 6.  The groups we have invited all do work in the rural communities in some capacity, social justice, cultural preservation, and the arts,” said Rosales.

Rosales said this would benefit the community by empowering young people to see the city and county’s rich history and cultural diversity.  Mexican, Punjabi, and Filipino history and culture will be especially highlighted in this conference.  It’s also a great chance to get involved with BC professors, staff, and campus locations to learn more about higher education, student clubs, non-profit organizations, etc. 

The Filipino American Historical Society will be doing guided tours of historic Delano. They do these tours for colleges and universities across California regularly. We are happy to partner with them to learn more about Fil-Am history in Delano and farm worker movement sites,” said Rosales. “We are also hosting a filmmaker and UC Davis professor who is an expert on Punjabi Americans, Dr. Nicole Ranganath. Student speakers will also deliver their research on Native American and Hispanic heritage on Thursday, May 4, and receive $1,500 scholarship awards for their research excellence.”

Rosales said this is a significant opportunity to learn more about different cultures and their contributions to California history, including right here in Kern County. 

“Everyone should attend. Young, and old, students, kids, grandmas, and families are welcome. Everything is free and open to the public. We just ask people to register for Saturday, May 6 in Delano so we know how much food to buy and have an accurate headcount for buses,” said Rosales.

Here is the website for more information on all events and a registration link for Saturday.

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