Originally from Oaxaca, José Vasconcelos (1882–1959) was called none other than “Teacher of America’s Youth”. Interested in political life —permanently critical, opposed to the government— he stood out as an academic and philosopher, and left an extensive work recognized with the highest literary value.
His creation includes collected letters, criticism and fiction on a variety of topics, including ethics, aesthetics and metaphysics, highlighting the autobiographical series that begins with his famous A Mexican Ulysses (1935) and the lucid criticism of racism contained in The Cosmic Race (1925).
However, the most famous aspect —perhaps the most important— of his legacy is what gives him a special place in history as an educator. He was our first Minister of Education and, as such, he undertook a campaign for popular education. He founded networks of libraries, normal schools and La Casa del Pueblo schools. He integrated and launched a collection of universal literature in a massive edition —with the works of Homer, Tagore, Goethe, Dante, among other masters of literature— that reached the entire country. He opened official buildings to the muralists in order to make them accessible to the people. He was a member of El Colegio Nacional and the Mexican Academy of Language. In addition, he was Dean of the National University. He can truly be considered an apostle of education.