We have lost a treasured and valuable voice. We remember a speaking engagement where Montoya talked about how many Chicanos were trying to get in touch with their indigena roots. Some, he observed, seemed to be on the right path: he called them the Ya Mero Indians, because they were getting close to some essential truths. Others, said Montoya, seemed to be missing the point entirely and were just caught up in the feathers, trinkets and iconography: he called them the Ya ‘Pa Que Indians. We’ll miss Montoya’s wit, humor and insight.
Luís Torres, journalist and author, Sandra Gutiérrez,non-profit activist, Pasadena, California
Jose’s admonition that Chicano culture and social history must be documented has been a guiding principle of Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol / Writers of the New Sun during our 20 years as a group of mostly Chicano/Latino poets, essayists, playwrights, memoirists. Long a participant and always a supporter of our writers’ collaborative, he was our friend, brother, mentor, and role model.
JoAnn Anglin, Coordinator, Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol, Sacramento, California
Forever un vato de atolle. Who gave the example of la pelea por justicia para Mexicanos y Chicanos and who gave El Louie to the world and embraced by Marc David Pinate, who embraced code switching words and the new poetic paradigm, who wanted to share, who gave free Chicano Poetry classes, which I attended, which made me much more of a Chicano poet than the Mexican-American Hispanic I had become, who began attending Café Luna’s open mic and meetings with Escritores Del Nuevo Sol, who did this because of Jose Montoya.
José Montoya was the ultimate Chicano poet/artist/musician/activist who described himself in many occasions as a “lifer” in his commitment to the Chicano liberation movement; he was considered by many of his poet peers as the national Chicano Poet Laureate and a living treasure. He lives on and rifa forever in the soul of La Raza!
Francisco X. Alarcón, Chicano Poet, Davis, California
José was a true Chicano “Renaissance Man” who made a huge impact on arts and letters and whose influence extends far and wide. I plan to attend his memorial but need to know where and when. We were in the process of launching an online José Montoya sketchbook documentation project, the project will go on as a tribute to José. He would have brought it to life but he has already brought so much to life in art, literature, music, and as a wonderful human being with a passion for applying so many of his gifts to serve our people. As José would say, “La cultura cura.”
Sal Guerena, Director, California Ethnic and Multicutural Archives , Santa Barbara, California
This is a huge loss for the Chicano community, especially for those of us in the cultural world. José will be remembered more than once at our upcoming Latino Art Now conference in DC, Nov. 7-9.
Eduardo Díaz. Director Smithsonian Latino Institute, Washington, D.C.
I met Jose again in the early 1980s when I was director of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association and we sponsored readings at the Self Help Art Center in East Los Angeles. We invited Chicano writers such as Lorna Dee Cervantes, Gary Soto and Jose to share their works with a community hungry for our stories, our poems. I only saw Jose intermittently over the years, but once a few years ago in Sacramento we read together in a kind of homage to our connection as Chicano writers, two generations (Jose was born in the early 1930s), pushing forward traditions that spanned thousands of years.