Most of know about Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and William Travis. We remember the Alamo and Goliad. We know who Sam Houston was and how he defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto. But many don’t remember who mapped the Texas Gulf coast in the 1500’s or who introduced ranching to Texas.
Texans have hopefully taken a step toward correcting this forgotten part of Texas with the introduction of the Tejano Monument at the capitol grounds in Austin. “Tejano” literally means “Texan” in Spanish, but the term has been adopted by Mexican-American groups all across the Southwestern U. S. While other monuments with a Tejano theme are located in San Antonio, Goliad, and Fort Worth, the monument in Austin holds particular significance for the Tejano community. “The Capitol grounds are one of the most popular sites for tourists, in state and out of state, as well as visits by public school students. It’s the most popular destination for people interested in learning something about Texas history,” says Emilio Zamora, a history professor at the University of Texas, Austin in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
The monument is a collection of bronze statues, eleven in all, set upon granite blocks taken from the same quarry as the building stones for the state capitol itself. It is prominently placed on the southern grounds of the capitol leading to the main entrance. The statues depict various events from Tejano history, such an early Mexican immigrant family, a vaquero (cowman) with his Texas longhorn, and the monument is topped by a Spanish explorer peering into the distance, perhaps visualizing a future Texas beyond the horizon of his view.
That’s the news story from Texas, but since this is a blog post, let me offer an additional subjective commentary. As an Anglo-American I am proud of my Anglo heritage. We, as a people, have accomplished much and have contributed greatly to the freedom and progress of people from all over this globe. However, there are many things of which I am not proud. The Anglo majority in America has committed many atrocities against people who do not look like us or share our culture. Accepted norms such as the enslavement of Africans and the immoral policy of “manifest destiny,” the belief that God ordained “whites” to conquer the continent and this permitted us to displace any native people who got in our way, are truly blots on our history.
If any of you think this is my attempt to assuage my “white guilt,” let me assure you it is not. We each are responsible for our own actions and not those of our ancestors. As the prophet Ezekiel quotes God, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself,” -Ezekiel 18:20 NKJV. Some of my ancestors were not noble men; many were. I have enough guilt for foolish things in my own life to handle without taking on Grampa’s.
As a local talk show host is fond of saying, “Now that you know where I’m sitting, let me tell you where I stand.” Some of the organizers for the Tejano Monument reported that they have been called “historical revisionists.” I am against any historical revisionism, but this does not fit the definition. The Tejanos are not attempting to rewrite or slant what we know about Texas history, they are simply telling an ignored story of the state’s beginning. Another wrong Anglos have committed is the omission of the contributions of our fellow men. We gloss over, say, the black patriots who fought for freedom in the Revolution against the British or contributions of Muslim mathematicians to science. Let’s not gloss over the contributions of these Tejano founders of the great state of Texas with our ethno-centric view of history.