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Antonio Ramirez: Humanities and Social Sciences valuable beyond measure

Antonio Ramirez

Antonio Ramirez, history and political science instructor

History and political science are not just subjects Instructor Antonio Ramirez teaches. He's a believer and defender of what he calls an “endangered species.”

“History and political science teachers are an endangered species, mostly because our current political climate tells us that the only things valuable in today's world are things that can be directly bought or sold,” he said. “But history and political science-and the humanities and social sciences in general-are valuable beyond measure.”

In his second year here, Ramirez does his part in ensuring students remain interested in those subjects. We caught up to Ramirez to ask him some questions about himself, his views about the classes he teaches and ECC. Here's what he said.

In your words, what do you do at ECC?
I try to help students reflect deeply on their lives and realities. That's the gift of the humanities and social sciences, and courses like history and political science. They give us the tools to understand and question. That's why some people in power continuously attack the humanities: they don't want us to understand or question.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?

I think my proudest accomplishment was starting a “History of Latinas and Latinos in the United States” course, which I'm teaching for the first time at ECC this semester. This kind of ethnic studies course really changed the trajectory of my life and I hope it does something similar for my students.

What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?

There are so many amazing things happening here every day that I don't get to witness, so I would probably take a cue from Dr. Sam and wander around the campus and pop my head into classrooms and say hello to faculty and staff. I appreciate that Dr. Sam does that frequently. It makes him seem very accessible and friendly, which I think helps set a nice tone for the college.

What's on your “bucket list?”

I've always wanted to play in Ruben Blades-style salsa band that plays political songs with danceable rhythms! The best I've ever done was a playing drums in a Nirvana-inspired garage band named “Curmudgeon.” We were terrible!

What's one fact we should know about you?

I grew up in Milwaukee and I'm proud of it!

What was your favorite class in school?

“African American History Since 1865,” taught by Professor William P. Jones. This course and Dr. Jones convinced me to study history. His newest book, The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights is a must-read, and complicates our ideas of the historic 1963 March on Washington and Dr. King's “I Have a Dream” speech. One day soon I'd like to teach a similar Black history course at ECC.

What was your first job out of school?

I've been working odd jobs since I was about 13-in bars, coffee shops, landscaping, factories, selling newspaper subscriptions, waiting tables, etc.-but my first real gig in college was a summer job teaching the children of agricultural migrant workers in Michigan. Many of those kids picked cucumbers and lettuce in the hot fields all day and took classes at night. My Dad and several of my tios and tias did this kind of hard agricultural work as well when they were young. Seeing how hard some people work firsthand really made me appreciate the privileges and opportunities I've been given.

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

I get to talk about interesting things all day with interesting people!” 

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