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Joe Lopez


photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

Lpez: The Tejano Monument 5 Years Later

By Jos Antonio Lpez

March 29, 2017

They said it couldnt be done is the popular phrase many of us often use when we successfully
complete a tough task.

So it was with the Tejano Monument in Austin, a tribute honoring our pioneer Tejana/Tejano
ancestors, founders of this great place we call Texas.

Indeed, hard work pays off. The monument celebrates its 5th Birthday today March 29th,
allowing us to salute the occasion with another common expression Job Well Done!

From the start, skeptics doubted its accomplishment. For one thing, out of more than thirty
statues on the capitol grounds, not one recognized the founding Spanish Mexican heritage in our
states history. In short, building the first one was a difficult order to fill.

Yet, showing the same type of faith and determination displayed by our pioneer ancestors in
settling 1700s Texas, a courageous group of their descendants took it upon themselves to make it
happen. Fittingly on this special occasion, the following summarizes the key events that led to
the monuments construction.

The story itself begins with a simple question asked by one of Dr. (M.D.) Cayetano E. Barreras
grandchildren years ago while on a tour of our state capitals historic sites. Grandpa, why
arent there any statues in Austin honoring our Tejano ancestors? While Dr. Barrera admitted
to the child that he didnt quite know the answer, the concept for the Tejano Monument was born
out of that innocent question. Subsequently, Dr. Barrera discussed the idea with several fellow
Tejano history aficionados, among them Dr. Lino Garcia, Jr., Professor Emeritus, UTRGV.

Soon, after a Texas Hispanic history symposium in Edinburg, Dr. Garcia put Dr. Barrera in touch
with one of the conference speakers, Dr. Andrs Tijerina, History Professor, Austin Community
College. That impromptu meeting earnestly began the quest to build the monument.

The next step was crucial. That is, official recognition by Texas State legislative officials that
such a monument was warranted. As such, in 2001, Dr. Barrera asked Texas State Representative
Ismael Kino Flores, D-Mission, to sponsor the bill acknowledging the Spanish Mexican
founders of Texas. The legislation was approved by the 77th Texas State Legislature. Complete
funding and go-ahead was achieved in 2010.

Next, the Tejano Monument, Inc., board of Tejano education, business, and community leaders
was organized to manage the project. Accordingly, public and private funds were raised to
design, fund, and construct the Tejano Monument.

After considering several submissions, on August 10, 2001, the board approved Armando
Hinojosas proposal commemorating the contributions of Tejanos in the founding of Texas. Mr.
Hinojosa, a renowned artist and sculptor from Laredo, Texas, spent the next eight years taking
his project from his original idea phase to its culmination as a beautiful marble and bronze
permanent exhibit on the south lawn of the Texas State Capitol Building.

Now, five years later, its appropriate to recognize the principal players, their dedication, and
hard work to bring this great undertaking to fruition:

Sculptor: Armando Hinojosa; Design & Construction: Jaime Beaman; Jos I. Guerra.

Members of the Tejano Monument Board of Directors: Dr. Cayetano E. Barrera, M.D.,
President, McAllen; Vice-Presidents: Homero Vera, Premont; Dr. Andrs Tijerina, PhD., Austin;
Renato Ramrez, Zapata; and Secretary/Treasurer, Richard P. Snchez, Edinburg.
Members of the Advisory Board: Benny Martnez, Goliad; Loretta Martnez Williams, Houston;
Aida Torres, McAllen; William and Estella Zermeo, Goliad; Judge Emilio Vargas, Goliad; and
R.J. Molina, Austin.

Members of the Fundraising Committee: Renato Ramrez, Chair; Dr. Andrs Tijerina, Vice-
chair; Richard Snchez, Jaime Beaman; Eddie Aldrete, Dr. Cayetano Barrera, Loretta Martnez
Williams, and Benny Martinez.

In addition to the individuals mentioned above, bi-partisan support from key Austin elected
officials was vital, among them: Governor Rick Perry, Texas Senators Zaffirini, Hinojosa, and
Gallegos, and House representatives, Kino Fes, Martinez-Fischer, Guillen, Pea Raymond, Luna,
Speaker Craddicks Office, and State Preservation Board.

This homage to Tejano Monument origins cannot be complete without recalling what I consider
two key events in the early stages of the venture.

First, while the generosity of Tejano history supporters throughout Texas was noteworthy, the
thoughtful financial contributions of Zapata (Villas del Norte) descendants was very significant.
Special thanks to Mr. Renato Ramrez, Fundraising Committee Chair for a job well done!

Second, no other singular persuasive effort topped Goliads Benny Martnez. During the month
of November 2003, Benny rode his horse to Austin, reenacting Juan Seguns famous ride. He
did so to deliver the message to Texans of all backgrounds that the Tejano Monument was the
right thing to do for the right reasons.

In summary, the Tejano Monument in Austin must be embraced as a first must-see site to learn
about and appreciate Texas true beginnings. If you havent visited it yet, please do so soon and
take the family. On a very personal level, the Tejano Monument embodies the visible tree trunk
of the Tejano root system originating from deep in the heart of Texas San Antonio,
Nacogdoches, La Bahia (Goliad), and Las Villas del Norte.
Toward that end, we the descendants of the Spanish Mexican founders of Texas must do
everything to practice and preserve our unique culture on this side of the border.

Whats the bottom line? Quite bluntly, continuing to ignore the Tejano Monuments symbolic
role in mainstream Texas history is akin to denying ones own family tree roots. Said another
way, Texas history without Tejanas and Tejanos is like a story with no beginning.

About the Author: Jos Joe Antonio Lpez was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and is a
USAF Veteran. He now lives in Universal City, Texas. He is the author of four books. His latest
book is Preserving Early Texas History (Essays of an Eighth-Generation South Texan). It is
available through Amazon.com. Lopez is also the founder of the Tejano Learning Center, LLC,
and www.tejanosunidos.org, a Web site dedicated to Spanish Mexican people and events in U.S.
history that are mostly overlooked in mainstream history books.////

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