AUSTIN, Texas—The Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously this week to name a new elementary school in honor of the late Américo Paredes, a nationally recognized scholar and folklorist who was a founder of the Center for Mexican American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.
Paredes was a professor emeritus at UT Austin at the time of his death on May 5, 1999. He was a native of Brownsville and the new elementary school there, which is scheduled for completion in June of 2001, will be located off Paredes Line Road.
Brownsville ISD Board Member Joe Colunga, who suggested the school be named for Paredes, described the scholar as “a cultural icon and true Brownsville hero.”
This is not the first time a school has been named in honor of Paredes. On April 27, 1999, the Austin Independent School District held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new the Américo Paredes Middle School, which has been constructed on David Moore Drive, south of Slaughter Lane near Mary Moore-Searight Park.
Paredes challenged the writings of legendary and contemporary historians and their versions of life along the Texas-Mexico border. His scholarly work about working class people along the Rio Grande borderlands set in motion a revolutionary approach to writing about the way things and people had been in early Texas. In so doing, he helped to shape positive cultural identity among Mexican-Americans and influenced a new generation of Texas scholars.
As an anthropology and English professor, Paredes had taught literature, folklore and creative writing to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students at UT Austin. His appointment to the Raymond Dickson, Alton C. Allen and Dillon Anderson Centennial Professorship spoke to his eminence as a scholar and teacher.