AUSTIN, Texas — He inspired a new generation of Mexican American scholars with his novels, folklore, poetry and songs of life and death along the Lower Rio Grande border. On Monday (April 27), the contributions of Amÿrico Paredes, professor emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin, will be celebrated by officials of the Austin Independent School District.
The school district has invited Paredes and his family to be special guests at a noon groundbreaking ceremony for the Amÿrico Paredes Middle School to be constructed on David Moore Drive, south of Slaughter Lane near Mary Moore-Searight Park. It is one of nine new public schools, including two middle schools, which the district will build as part of the $369 million “Children First” bond program Austin voters approved in April 1996.
Paredes is a founder of Mexican American studies, border studies, and the post-modern movement in anthropology. To recognize his lifelong contributions to literature and folklore, Paredes was awarded the Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Orden del Aguila Azteca, Mexico’s highest honor given to scholars from other countries.
“For nearly 50 years, Paredes has contributed to the academic, administrative and cultural life of The University of Texas at Austin community. As an anthropology and English professor, he has taught literature, folklore and creative writing to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students. His appointment to the Raymond Dickson, Alton C. Allen and Dillon Anderson Centennial Professorship speaks to his eminence as a scholar and teacher,” said UT Austin Vice Provost Ricardo Romo.
Last year, when Paredes received The University of Texas Presidential Citation, it was noted that his “seminal folklore studies in the 1940s and 1950s lay the foundation for understanding the people and culture of the Lower Rio Grande Border, inspiring an entire generation of Mexican American scholars to pursue a more intercultural interpretation of the American Southwest,” according to Romo.
Last fall, Paredes received an award from the American Folklore Society’s Section on Latino, Latin American and Caribbean Folklore, recognizing him as “the most important and influential American Folklorist in the field of Mexican-American and Borderlands Folklore.”
AISD President Kathy T. Rider said Paredes’ personal and professional life provide “a powerful role model” and she hopes he will continue to share his life and his stories with students in the school district.