This story was also featured in Beyond Arts Magazine’s September issue.
Timing could not have been better for the Texas Historical Commission to launch its newest Texas Time Travel mobile tour application. Hispanic Texas: Journey from Empire to Democracy is the title of the thematic travel guide to be launched mid-September during the statewide Tejano Heritage month. This is the fifth mobile tour the commission designs to reproduce existing printed guides. Previously launched mobile tours include African Americans in Texas, Historic Bankhead Highway, La Salle Odyssey, and Red River War of 1874-1875.
“Texas Time Travel mobile tours serve as expanded versions of the printed guides. These tours include extensive photo galleries and enable us to embed videos; a distinct advantage over print guides,” said Texas Heritage Tourism Specialist Eliot Stone. Since joining the Texas Historical Commission’s Community Heritage Development Division almost two years ago, Stone, a native of Del Rio, Texas, has been responsible for the development of mobile applications to supplement the Texas Historical Commission’s web presence. “There is so much I have learned since I began working here,” said Stone. “I have traveled to other countries only to realize we have an amazing history and culture here in our own state. I have also noticed many of our State’s significant historic events—such as the 1966 Star County Farm Workers’ March (“La Marcha’)—are not found in Texas high school curricula”.
This major event in Hispanic Texas history is the subject of a new four-minute video – the longest produced so far – that will be embedded in the Hispanic Texas mobile tour application. But do not expect a video narrated by a professional actor or personality, for the video is narrated by the actual characters; “By the people who own this history.” Stone said. “Those downloading the application will see the faces and hear the voices of the Texans who lived through the Star County Farm Workers’ March of 1966.” Because this particular historical event has evaded Texas High School history courses, Stone believes the video offers an opportunity for discovery and deeper investigation into the contributions of Tejano farm workers to Texas’ civil rights law and economic justice. “It is fairly common for students to point to Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez and mistakenly believe there were no prominent Civil Rights era figures in Texas. Our state’s civil rights struggles are not often discussed and internalized and, as a result, students may believe civil rights injustices are a problem of other states, other people, and other times. Through the video viewers will discover otherwise.,” said Stone.
In the printed 99-page Hispanic Texans guide we read that the 1966 Starr County Strike led by Eugene Nelson a representative of Cesar Chavez’s National Farm Workers’ Association (later the United Farm Workers), attracted national attention to the Rio Grande Valley. After months of protests, picketing, and arrests, the farmworkers began an arduous march to Austin. Governor John Connally opted instead to meet them in New Braunfels to announce he would not support their demands. According to the same guide, protests continued, inspiring many younger Tejanos to join the national Chicano movement and establish a new generation of institutions such as La Raza Unida political party, in support of Mexican American empowerment and equality. In addition to the civil rights history of Texas, the printed guide focuses on the first 500 years of the rich and colorful Hispanic experience. The Hispanic Texas mobile app will extend the printed guide, featuring numerous photographs and videos about the Mexican branch of the Hispanic family, for it is here that the deepest imprint on the Lone Star State is found.
Meeting history makers like Daria Vera – a former farmworker and activist in the 1966 march -who welcomed Stone into her home and shared personal artifacts related to the strike including hand written letters from the Kennedys is why Stone believes the video grants life changing potential. “It’s easy to brush off individuals whose background may seem mundane or unimportant. Learning about the role Daria played in Texas history was enlightening and reinforced my belief to critically examine our own judgmental impulses. You never know who people are or what they have done in their lives,” said Stone. He believes these travel guides offer not only an opportunity to motivate Texans to explore their state, but unlike meeting people abroad -who one will probably never see again – meeting people of different backgrounds and different ethnicities living in Texas can influence the way we relate with each other, and foster a better understanding of social relations in Texas.
To view and download free mobile and printed thematic travel guides visit TexasTimeTravel.com and go to the Guides and Apps menu. In addition, the http://www.thc.state.tx.us/ is a mobile friendly website with its own YouTube channel to access their video collections.