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Flores, a self-described artivista, or artist-activist, for more than three decades has creatively melded musical traditions and genres to bring communities together through art. In so doing, he has entertained and enlightened audiences across Los Angeles and far beyond.
Cal State LA and the California State University Board of Trustees conferred an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts to Flores during an afternoon Commencement ceremony for the College of Arts and Letters on July 28. Cal State LA President William A. Covino recognized Flores on behalf of the university and the CSU and read the degree citation.
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"Mr. Flores' artistic intention focuses on pushing the boundaries of Chicano music, and his band is currently one of Los Angeles' most important and successful groups," Covino said. "Playing a mix of Mexican and Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music, the band is known for its powerful and poetic socially conscious compositions.
"Mr. Flores has selflessly defined his art through collective creative works that cross boundaries of communities and cultures to bring people together through creative expression," Covino said.
Flores lauded the graduates for persevering, and even thriving, during the many months of the pandemic in the face of white supremacy and police abuses, as well as politicians' failure to guarantee housing, food, health care and education as basic rights.
"Congratulations to you for refusing to be invisible, for doing something extraordinary in a year that presented … countless, monumental challenges," Flores said.
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After recognizing parents, guardians and families for their sacrifices on behalf of the graduates, he drew loud applause for referring to generations even deeper in the past.
"Congratulations to your ancestors, to all of our ancestors, people who have carried deep-rooted traditions across genocide, slavery, stolen land, for generations, so that you could arrive whole, so that we could arrive whole, so that we could feel the comfort of belonging, so that we could arrive armed with culture, with tradition. You are your ancestors' radically imaginative dreams."
Read more at: https://news.calstatela.edu/2021/07/28/la-musician-activist-jose-quetzal-flores-honorary-doctorate-cal-state-la-commencement-2021/.
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