Building Democratizing Racial Justice

Building on the legacy of social justice movements in San Antonio and the long history of ethnic studies, Democratizing Racial Justice emerged to bring working groups together to work on pressing racial justice issues. We also seek to increase student access to ethnic studies as a pathway for learning about and creating more just societies.

The original team of Jackie Cuevas, Alejandra Elenes, and Rhonda Gonzales collaborated with community partners to respond to Mellon's call for building Just Futures.


Dr. Jackie Cuevas

Founding Principal Investigator

Dr. Jackie Cuevas was the initial Principal Investigator for DRJ in 2021. Since leaving UTSA for UT Austin in 2021, Cuevas continues to contribute to the project as a collaborator.

Dr. Rhonda Gonzales

Founding Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Gonzales was an initial Co-Principal Investigator for DRJ and continues as a collaborator now that she is Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Denver. Previously at UTSA, Dr. Gonzales served as Chair of the History Department and Professor of History. At UTSA, she also served as Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UTSA. Prior to serving as Interim Dean, the Interim Vice President for Student Success and Associate Vice Provost for Strategic

Initiatives. Dr. Gonzales has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on several multi-million dollar grants and was instrumental in developing UTSA's highly successful first-gen program.

Dr. C. Alejandra Elenes

Founding Member

Alejandra Elenes is the current PIs of the Democratizing Racial Justice Mellon Foundation Grant at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her interdisciplinary scholarship centers on the application of Anzalduan philosophy to examine Chicana feminist epistemologies, methodologies, spirituality, and social justice. Currently, she is conducting two research projects. One studies the experiences of Chicanas in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and the formation of Chicana intellectual thought. In this research project, she is conducting genealogical, archival, and ethnographic research. The other project is a book project on Mario Compeán, Chicano Movement organizing, and social justice. The book is based on oral histories with Compeán, his family, and movement activists and archival research. She is the former co-lead editor of Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social. Her recent publications have appeared in a variety of journals such as, Aztlán, Frontiers, Journal of Latinos in Education and Journal of Latino/Latin American Studies. She has published chapters in anthologies on the history of women's studies, Chicana/o studies, and Latin American studies.