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Emigdio “Higgy” Vasquez, Jr. puts the finishing touches on a mural depicting the faces of civil and education rights leaders. An unveiling of the Educational Opportunity Program mural project will be held Tuesday, Sept. 25.

Unveiling Tuesday

EOP Mural Depicts Leaders Who Fought for Civil Rights, Educational Equity

September 24, 2007

By Debra Cano Ramos

As Janette L. Hyder watched artist Emigdio “Higgy” Vasquez Jr. put the finishing touches on a mural depicting the faces of civil and education rights leaders, her own dream was coming alive on the giant canvas.

“This mural is very close to my heart,” said Hyder, an Educational Opportunity Program counselor who proposed the mural project. “It truly represents hope for the future and it’s a reminder of how I ended up at Cal State Fullerton.”

EOP counselor Janette L Hyder, who proposed the creation of the mural.

The EOP mural project, one of the 50th anniversary “Golden Ideas” initiatives, reflects the struggles faced by 1960s-era students while fighting for civil rights and educational equity.

“With this mural, I just want to remind our students of what students before us fought for. I’m grateful to them for what they have given me and to others — the chance for a better and brighter future,” Hyder said.
The colorful mural will be unveiled at a 3-6 p.m. reception Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Titan Student Union.

Life-size images of inspirational leaders such as Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. are featured on the mural, which consists of eight, 4-by-7-foot panels.

“We hope to educate the campus and community-at-large about the history and importance of EOP. The EOP mural and reception will build a strong sense of community for the campus and alumni who value EOP and the importance of maintaining diversity at Cal State Fullerton,” said Hyder, a Chicana and first-generation college graduate.

The California Legislature established EOP in 1969 in efforts to increase access to higher education and academic success and retention among the state’s educationally and economically disadvantaged students. In 2003, the Legislature declared September as EOP Month in California.

“Without EOP, my life would be different today,” said Hyder, who grew up in South Gate and credits EOP for affording her the opportunity to attain a higher education. At CSUF, she earned bachelor’s degrees in human services and ethnic studies, with an emphasis in Chicano studies, in 1997 and a master’s degree in counseling in 2000.

“EOP opened the door for me. The program exposed me to a world of higher education that I knew nothing about. EOP has empowered me and has meant a lot to me.”

The mural will be permanently installed inside University Hall, on the walls next to the EOP department.

The mural project was made possible with assistance from the Golden Ideas Initiatives and Robert Palmer, vice president for student affairs. The College of the Arts and volunteers from various campus organizations, including ArtCast, MEChA and the Links Mentoring Program, also contributed to making the mural a reality.

Vasquez, a percussionist and visual artist, and his father, painter, muralist and CSUF alumnus Emigdio Vasquez Sr. (B.A. art ’78, M.A. art ’79) were commissioned to assist with the project. The elder Vasquez created the conceptual design; his son was lead painter. Drawing and painting students Kerry Chavez and Loriann Hernandez led student volunteer involvement. Jade Jewett, professor of art, oversaw the students’ work.

“This project has created a lot of excitement because of the size, scale and content of the mural,” Jewett said. “Students have had the opportunity to see how mural work is different from studio painting, how the images evolved from the artist’s original illustration, and how the process of involving the various departments on campus changed the final artwork.”

“I’m so excited to see this project come to fruition. The spirit and legacy of EOP will live on for future generations,” Hyder said.

For more information about the reception and unveiling, call 278-3488.



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