November 11, 2020, marks one of the saddest days of my life. We lost a legend on that day: Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones. We lost both a friend and scholar. Dr. Gómez-Quiñones was truly one of the greatest intellectuals in the Americas, and throughout the world. For over fifty years, through his scholarship, community involvement, political activism, and mentorship to his students, Dr. Gómez-Quiñones dedicated his life to advocating for social, economic and racial justice for Chicanas/os (or Mexican Americans), in particular, and the oppressed, in general. He would serve as mentor to many of us in his role at the University of California at Los Angeles. Among his scholarly contributions, we find his early co-authorship of Chicana/o movement principles in El Plan de Santa Barbara: A Chicano Plan for Higher Education. In those early years, there was a need for a set of higher education principles and goals which Chicana/o students should strive for. El Plan serves as a historical artifact which framed the process of a social and educational movement.
Dr. Gómez-Quiñones also co-founded UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) and Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. He was NACCS (National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies) Scholar Recipient in 1990.
Moreover, he was an accomplished and published poet:
“My father’s land / is crossed / ribbon like / by stone fences / they wither in the sun / White stones that glisten in the sun, / Stones that ballast a sea of brown hills. / My father’s whip laid them, / My mother’s tribe fed them.”
In short, Dr. Gómez-Quiñones took the ashes of our once burnt history and created scholarly books, peer-reviewed articles, essays and eloquent poems in spaces limited to the best and the brightest which Western Civilization has to offer. He did so through his publications, speeches and memories, without succumbing to fear or forgetting where he came from.
I first met Dr. Gómez-Quiñones in 1985. As a freshman at UCLA, I was happily surprised to see a Chicano professor teaching at an elite university. More surprising, indeed, was Gómez-Quiñones’ reading assignments which included brown scholars. He succinctly encapsulated for me the value of comprehending our, and America’s, indigenous past:
“The point of learning about the Indigenous past is not to relive past practices, or to propose one essentialization over another, or to be immobilized by history. The first stone to demolish the old presidio is our own consciousness.” 
I will miss him dearly.