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'Chicana/o Power!' specialty license plates could grace Colorado vehicles

Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post on

Published in News & Features

DENVER — Coloradans could soon have the option to buy a license plate celebrating Chicano power if a proposed bill passes the state legislature.

Rep. Tim Hernández and Sen. Julie Gonzales, both Denver Democrats, revived a bill that has twice failed in recent years to create a license plate honoring Chicano culture. Some of the money from the sale of the license plate would go toward bolstering programs that support the well-being of Colorado’s Chicano community, according to the bill. HB24-1105.

“Chicanos have had a longstanding history in the state of Colorado and a deep and influential role in the way our communities have developed, how our social programs in the state have been developed,” Hernández said. “I’m really thankful that I now get the esteemed opportunity to prove to the state that our community is here, central and pivotal not just to our past but also to our future.”

In addition to the usual Department of Motor Vehicle fees, the special license plate would cost two one-time fees of $25 — one going toward funding highways and the other supporting organizations across the state whose mission uplifts the Latino community.

The license plate was designed by 23-year-old artist Larysa Medina, of Alamosa, and Denver artist Anthony Garcia Sr. after workshopping designs in a statewide artist collective. The plate features two clasped hands over a background that resembles a serape — a traditionally Latino striped, colorful, woven blanket. The words “Chicana/o Power!” flank the bottom of the plate.

Latinos make up the second largest racial or ethnic group in Colorado at 22% of the population, four percentage points higher than the national share, according to the University of California Los Angeles Latino Policy and Politics Institute. Since 2000, the Latino population in Colorado has grown 72% — twice the state’s overall population growth of 35%, the Institute found.

If passed, the license plate would join the more than 200 specialty plates already offered by Colorado’s DMV. A similar bill failed in 2016 and 2018 under Rep. Joseph Salazar.

 

The new iteration of the bill is scheduled to receive its first committee hearing Thursday.

Support for the bill has been documented through more than 3,600 signatures on a petition over the past week, Hernández said.

“I feel very emotional thinking about it because I’ve been proud my entire life to be Chicano and a lot of folks don’t even know what that… word means,” Hernández said. “Chicano means somebody who understands our shared history and is inspired to invest in our community’s power in the future. This will raise consciousness and help our young people to learn about our history.”

If the bill is approved and signed into law, the new license plates will be available beginning Jan. 1 “or when the department is able to issue the plates,” according to the text of the legislation.

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