Carlos MontesFeb. 2, 2024 —The CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) campus will be alive with two Latina/o cultural celebrations from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, and the public is invited to join in.

Just as it is customary to honor a Latina’s 15th birthday with a grand celebration including music, dancing, food, tiaras and elaborate gowns, the Chicana/o Studies program is celebrating its 15th birthday with a big party in the Grand Salon with longtime Chicana/o activist Carlos Montes and his daughter, artist/activist/educator Felicia Montes, as keynote speakers.

“The quinceañera in Latina/o culture marks an important time of transitioning from a girl into a woman,” said Professor of Chicana/o Studies José Alamillo. “It’s acknowledging the next stage of life and the fact that the young woman will be doing big things. Our department is also becoming more mature and we’re also going to do some big things involving social justice and scholarship.”

Leading up to “Nuestra Quinceañera: 15 Years of Chicana/o Studies at CSU Channel Islands” is a lowrider car show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the El Dorado Park and parking lot.

“These events invite members of the surrounding community to the campus in a way we haven’t seen before,” said Associate Professor of Art History Theresa Avila, who organized the lowrider event. “We want our students to come out and see the campus celebrate and engage with their culture, working to create a sense of belonging. This event is a stepping stone for more to come for our campus and the community.”

A godfather of the lowrider car community, Johnny Lazoya, will be on campus with the lowrider car show, which will feature lowriders from 10 different Ventura County car clubs.

Lazoya, 70, grew up in the Los Angeles area and later Oxnard, surrounded by lowrider culture. He loved lowrider events where families got together to display their vintage cars fitted with hydraulic suspension that could be made to dance to the beat of barrio music. Lazoya has contributed many photographs to Lowrider Magazine, particularly highlighting Ventura County.

The car show is accompanied by a photograph exhibit titled “Lowriding in Ventura County” on view in Broome Gallery located in John Spoor Broome Library Feb. 19 through March 15.

“Ventura County is a historically important site for the emergence of lowrider culture,” Avila said. “We have focused the car show and exhibit to include Ventura County car clubs and cars. Through our efforts we work to capture the history of lowriders in the region and elevate the clubs that are part of that narrative.”

The event also celebrates the fact that a ban on lowrider cruising that was enacted in the 1980s was lifted in 2024. Thanks to the passage of AB436, cruising has been legalized across the state of California.

“This car show event goes hand in hand with a new movement and moment in California, elevating this practice as a form of relevant cultural expression,” Avila said. “And we are happy to host the Ventura County lowrider community on our campus.”

The lowriders will usher in the Chicana/o Studies Quinceñera with a colorful procession through campus to the Grand Salon, where mixing and mingling will begin at 5 p.m. with the program beginning at 6 p.m. and running through 10 p.m.

Highlighting the evening will be Montes and his daughter, both significant profiles in Chicana/o activism. Montes was central to the Chicano rights movement in East Los Angeles in the 1960s and was a founding member of the Brown Berets. He also helped organize the 1968 East Los Angeles high school student walkouts to protest racism and inequality in Los Angeles area high schools and was portrayed in the 2006 HBO movie “Walkout.”

Montes was also indicted by a secret LA County Grand Jury and arrested for conspiracy to disrupt the school system with many other charges in what became known as the ELA 13 case, with the charges later dropped.

Felicia “Fe” Montes is a force in her own right as an educator, indigenous artist, and co-founder of two creative women’s collectives in Los Angeles. 

The celebration will include live music, traditional food, remarks from CSUCI President Richard Yao, and a lifetime achievement award presented to Professor of History Frank Barajas, one of the original founding faculty members of CSUCI.

Michele Serros at her quinceaneraThe organizers intended that the quinceñera fall on what would have been renowned Chicana activist/author Michele Serros’ 58th birthday. Serros, who died in January of 2015, is forever a part of CSUCI having left her writings and much of her memorabilia to the university.

“We wanted to honor the fact that we own the copyrights to her writings, an endowment in her name and we want to celebrate her legacy on her birthday,” Alamillo said.

Tickets to the “Nuestra Quinceañera” are $100, with proceeds going toward establishing a Chicana/o Studies speakers series and to grow the Michele Serros Endowment and establish a student scholarship.

To purchase tickets, visit:

The University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs, events and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation, or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the respective area below as soon as possible, but no later than seven (7) business days prior to the event/activity:

CSUCI Students

CSUCI Employees and Members of the Public

Back to Top ↑