In 2002, colleagues affiliated with the University of Missouri’s Hispanic and Latin American Faculty and Staff Association got together to do what our land-grant university pledges to do: translational research and outreach in the service of communities across the state. They started by hosting a conference, which they called Cambio de Colores–Change of Colors. They chose this name, Cambio, because they were focused on understanding the changes that were occurring as a growing number of Latine migrants and other immigrants settled across rural, suburban, and urban areas of Missouri, bringing a wealth of color and assets with them. Then, inspired by the immense interest in and need to understand community change, integration and belonging, they got busy obtaining support to open this here Cambio Center.
The official ribbon cutting ceremony that opened the Cambio Center, in the offices that we still inhabit in Gentry Hall 301, was on October 26, 2004. Dr. Domingo Martínez, the founding director, gave a beautiful welcome speech. He highlighted statistics, like how Mexico was the second largest trading partner in Missouri at the time. Then, he raised important questions that continue to drive our work today, like “What’s the economic contribution of new Missourians to the state’s economy? What is the relationship between racial profiling and educational achievement?”
Finally, Dr. Martínez thanked all the colleagues who helped design the first Cambio de Colores conference and this center, including Steve Jeanetta, Sylvia Lazos, Christiane Quinn, Corinne Valdivia, scholars and community organizers who remain connected to Cambio as Fellows, conference goers, and board members.
This history and the mission and vision defined by our líderes originales continue to light our path, and for this, we say: muchísimas gracias.
Highlights from Nuestra Línea de Tiempo
- 2002: First Cambio de Colores Conference
- 2004: Ribbon cutting for Cambio Center 2004 – read the welcome speech here!
- 2006: First U.S. Department of Agriculture Grant awarded
- 2017: 15th year celebration of Cambio de Colores Conference
- 2022: Opening of the MU Latinx Studies Minor, developed with support from Cambio Fellows at UMKC and UMSL (like Dr. Deborah Cohen!) and includes course options from across the UM-system