This year's conference, titled "The 'Real' Border Wars," will focus on daily struggles people of the Rio Grande Valley face, including stories of children who are subjected to violence and trauma, research on organized crime, security issues, environmental injustice and the politics of corruption. Presenters will include faculty from UT Pan American and other Texas universities, community organizers and activists, and students.
This year conference attendees will hear from two comic book artists who feature Hispanic superheroes from the Rio Grande Valley: "El Gato Negro" and "The Opossum".
Richard Dominguez is the creator, writer and illustrator of "El Gato Negro" (the Black Cat) comic book series set in the border. He calls his superhero the "Hispanic answer to Batman." In 1993, Dominguez received major media attention with his Hispanic comic book superhero, which is published independently by his publishing company, Azteca Productions.
Aaron Moses Hernandez is an artist and composer from Brownsville, Texas, as well as the creator and writer of the comic book series, "The Opossum". In the spring of 2007, The Opossum made its debut, foregrounding the RGV in the imagination of the comic book community. The Opossum chronicles the exploits of Aaron as a masked vigilante, turned superhero. Aaron as the Opossum becomes a white beast fighting against crime and corruption in the city of Brownsville.
During an evening presentation at 6:30 p.m., a group of environmental researchers and activists will discuss the 33-acre underground toxic plume located in McAllen.
Registration to the free conference will begin at 8:15 a.m. with a welcome starting at 9:15 a.m. by conference organizer Dr. Rosy Nyima Resendiz. Conference co-organizer is Dr. Philip Ethridge. Both are UTPA associate professors of criminal justice in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Conference presentations will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Lunch will be on your own.
For a complete conference schedule, go to the Social Justice & Peace Conference website at www.utpa.edu/sjp. For more information, contact Victor Palacios, conference organizer assistant, at (956) 665-3566.