Chicano, Educator, Historian, Playwright, Producer, Political Activist

Notes From a 21st Century Brown Buffalo

John Fraire, Ph.D.

Gates Millennium Scholars Consultant
Chicano Educator

Chicano Educator

John Fraire is a Chicano, Educator, Playwright, Historian, and Political Activist.  A former university vice president with nearly 40 years experience in higher education, Fraire has led the fight for inclusion, diversity and justice throughout his career. An opponent of standardized testing and other exclusionary admissions policies, he  has developed programs that helped diversify and stabilize enrollments at several institutions. For nearly two decades, Fraire served as a consultant to the Gates Millennium Scholars Program where he helped train and lead the readers who evaluated applications from Latino students. 


Identity: Second Generation Mexican American, First Generation Chicano

When asked "What are you?" Fraire will often reply, "Second Generation Mexican American, First Generation Chicano." Sometimes he says "Urban Chicano." Some Chicanos refer to Fraire as an Elder. Born in Gary, Indiana, Fraire and his family lived literally in front of U.S. Steel/Gary Works and next to Inland Steel. Much of his academic research and theatrical plays stem from his experience as an urban, midwestern, Mexican American/Chicano (Front row, third from the left with his father Gabriel Fraire).


Performance As Education

Performance As Education (PAE) is a college readiness and retention program for Latino and other underserved high school students and college undergraduates that uses theatre and performance. Developed by Fraire and AnaMaria Correa, PAE brings together theatre professionals with high school students. The outcome is Las Memorias, a professionally produced play with the students performing the roles they wrote themselves. PAE was founded at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. In conjunction other Latino artists in Seattle and Los Angeles, Fraire plans bring PAE to other locations. (

John Fraire, Ph.D.


(Photo: 2018 SW Washington LULAC Youth Conference).     


When John Fraire talks about growing up as a [steel] mill-worker Chicano in the Midwest,  he conveys a clear sense of pride in his heritage, his family and his community. So it’s no surprise that Fraire, as vice president of enrollment and student affairs . . . gives a good deal of credit to the values instilled in him in his youth for forming and achieving his personal and professional goals – from helping develop new enrollment programs designed to increase diversity at Harvard in the late 1970s, to using theater as a vehicle for both education and college recruitment.         

From "John Fraire: Chicano Hoosier, Diversity Innovator"  by Paul Hoogeveen 

 The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education , 11/26/2012

Theatre and Performance


Fraire is a Chicano playwright whose first play, “Who Will Dance With Pancho Villa?” was co-authored with his brother Gabriel Fraire and produced by the Castillo Theatre in New York in 1994. Since then the two brothers have written and produced several plays, screenplays, and other theatrical performances. The Fraire brothers' plays generally focus on the Midwest, Mexican American and Chicano experience. A second play, "Cesar Died Today," was produced by New Latino Visions, a theatre company founded by Fraire in Kalamazoo, MI. Fraire also served as Washington State Arts Commissioner from 2008-2014, and is the founder and former executive director of the New Latino Visions Theatre Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Throughout his academic career, Fraire has used theatre and performance as an outreach and retention tool for Latinx and underserverd students.  

Midwest Chicano History and Academics



Fraire's academic research focuses on his home community, the Mexican community in Northwest Indiana. His book, Mexicans Playing Baseball in an Indiana Steel Town: Ethnic Identity Development Among Mexican Youth in Indiana Harbor, Indiana is tentatively scheduled for publication next year. Fraire earned a bachelor’s degree in government and a master’s in education from Harvard, a master’s in history from Western Michigan, and earned his doctorate at the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Fraire is one of the first Chicanos to attend and graduate from Harvard. In 1973 he and 14 other Mexican Americans enrolled in Harvard, the largest group of Mexican American Harvard freshmen at that time. In his higher education career, Fraire has often been the first and/or the only Mexican American/Chicano to work at that institution. 

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John Fraire, Ph.D.

Seattle, WA

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