Musicians, educators and other members of The University of Texas at Austin community will play a proud role in the March 29 unveiling of the Tejano Monument, a multistatue monument on the south lawn of the Texas Capitol grounds honoring the contributions of Texas’ early Spanish-Mexican settlers and their descendants.
The unveiling marks a 12-year effort by Hispanic business and education leaders to honor Spanish and Mexican pioneers who are seldom mentioned in Texas history.
“The Tejano Monument and the educational programs associated with this project will help us all embrace a more complete and fairer rendering of history and continue promoting the special role that Tejanos have played in this state during the last 400 years,” said Emilio Zamora, professor in the Department of History at The University of Texas at Austin and director of the Tejano Curriculum History Project, an initiative of the Tejano Monument project.
Zamora is collaborating with the university’s Maria Franquiz and Cinthia Salinas of the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and partners such as Tejano Monument Inc., the Austin Independent School District (AISD) and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center to bring a fuller account of Tejano history to Texas classrooms.
Franquiz has engaged six AISD fourth-grade teachers who are current and former students of the College of Education’s Bilingual Education program to develop supplementary curricular materials on Tejano history. The curriculum will be available to fourth-grade teachers throughout Texas and will be presented at education conferences, made available online and can easily be adapted by other organizations for education and outreach purposes.
Undergraduate students in Salinas’ methods course are working on “journey boxes” that will contain a themed collection of primary documents such as postcards, photos, journals, birth records, drawings, maps and speeches that offer information and cultural insights on particular areas of Tejano history. Student “journey boxes” will be on display in the Texas Capitol on Thursday and Friday.
Two highly visible groups at the unveiling ceremony from The University of Texas at Austin will be the Mariachi Ensemble and the Conjunto Ensemble. The Mariachi Ensemble, which began at the university in 1977, is directed by Zeke Castro, who established mariachi programs in the AISD middle and high schools. The Conjunto Ensemble is led by faculty members Jean Jacques (JJ) Barrera, Joel Guzman and Robin Moore.
The University of Texas at Austin also has other proud ties to the Tejano Monument project. The keynote speaker for the unveiling, Andrés Tijerina, received his doctorate from the university; and the master of ceremonies for the event, state Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, received bachelor of arts and law degrees from the university.
Other Tejano history events this week include a Tejano Monument Conference on Friday at the Capitol that is open to the public. Also Friday, a celebration banquet (tickets required) will be held at the university’s Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. On Saturday, a Tejano Monument Parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Congress Avenue.