Island University Project to Honor and Preserve History of Local Chicano Movement

August 11, 2016

Island University Project to Honor and Preserve History of Local Chicano Movement

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – South Texas has a unique history that Island University professors are working to preserve. Dr. Claudia Rueda, Assistant Professor of History, and her colleagues at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi are launching a new and innovative oral history initiative called “South Texas Stories,” a history project that aims to capture the historical story of South Texas through the memories of its residents.

Rueda is part of a team that includes Dr. Anthony Quiroz, Professor of Mexican-American Studies, Dr. David Blanke, Professor of History and Dr. Jen Brown, Assistant Professor of Environmental History. The team will collect stories from two different historical topics each year. This academic year, oral histories will be collected on the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s as well as sea turtle and coastal conservation.

“Padre Island is such an important nesting area for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle,” said Brown. “Yet many people do not know the history behind Corpus Christi’s involvement in protecting this critically endangered reptile – they do not know this is happening in their own backyard. That is why it’s important to collect the oral histories of those who have been involved over last 50 years of conservation efforts.”

“South Texas Stories” has received $16,600 to date from numerous entities including Summerlee Foundation, Humanities Texas, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Department of Humanities, College of Liberal Arts, the Office of the Provost as well as the Division of Research, Commercialization and Outreach.

“We hope this project will celebrate the Chicano movement while also starting a conversation between generations,” said Rueda. “As such, it is part of the History Department’s new initiative that seeks to preserve the region’s history through the voices of its residents.”

Their project consists of two events that will be free and open to the general public:

  • The Oral History Training Workshop will be held Saturday, Aug. 20 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the La Retama Meeting Room at the La Retama Central Library in Corpus Christi. The workshop is intended to encourage the study and preservation of South Texas history. Attendees will learn the best practices of conducting and preserving oral history interviews. The workshop is designed for interested faculty, students, K-12 teachers, and community members. 
  • A Symposium titled “Chicano Voices: Stories from the South Texas Civil Rights Movement” will take place on Friday, Sept. 9 from 6 – 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the University Center, Bayview Room 320 at A&M-Corpus Christi. Attendees can expect to hear presentations from speakers who participated in the Chicano movement as well as scholars working to preserve Chicano history. For more information, please contact jennifer.brown@tamucc.edu or 361.825.2641 or claudia.rueda@tamucc.edu or 361.825.5858.

“These events commemorate the important role South Texas played in the Mexican American civil rights struggle,” said Rueda. “This is a history that shaped the lives of many of our students and their parents, and yet it is a history that for the most part is not well-known.”