Texas state museum acknowledging violent Valley history

SouthTexasCollege history instructor Trinidad O. Gonzales grew up hearing of violence perpetrated by Texas Rangers against those in the Rio GrandeValley, including in his own family.

“I am a descendant of one of the victims of the matanza … which occurred from July to October of 1915,” Gonzales said. “The translation I’m using is ‘massacre.’ That was the word they used in the 1920s to described these events.”

“Life and Death on the Border 1910-1920,” an exhibit exploring the turbulent time will open at the BullockTexasStateHistoryMuseum on Jan. 23 in Austin.

Gonzales joined John Morán González, of the University of Texas at Austin; Sonia Hernández of Texas A&M at College Station; Benjamin Johnson, of LoyolaUniversity in Chicago, and Monica Muñoz Martinez of BrownUniversity, to collaborate with the museum for the project. The colleagues, who run the website Refusing to Forget, originally set out to honor the border victims and “commemorat(e) the centennial of this period of state sanctioned anti-Mexican violence,” according to the website.

Students are surprised to learn about the Valley’s violent history, Gonzales said.

Johnson said there are some that don’t want the history taught or heard.

“The Texas Rangers, for some people, are like saints. They’re not to be, in any way, tarnished,” Johnson said. “But 100 years later, I think it’s time (to) talk about … the significance of the inclusion of Latinos and Mexicanos within the history of Texas and the United States.”

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