Tejano Heritage Celebration honors history, music, monument


Tejano history and culture to be celebrated at Capitol.

Event will honor Tejano Monument, which highlights contributions of Texas’ early Spanish and Mexican settlers.

When the Tejano Monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds was unveiled in 2012, it ensured that future generations of visitors would learn about Tejanos’ place in the state’s history.

Now as the collection of bronzed statues that honor the heritage and contributions of Texas’ early Spanish and Mexican settlers turns 5 years old, a celebration Saturday will honor Tejano culture and history.

The Tejano Heritage Celebration events in and around the Capitol begin at 9:30 a.m. with a Mexican-American history symposium followed by a Tejano Monument ceremony and reception. A Tejano music concert will honor the Austin Tejano Music Coalition’s 2005 launch.

Gov. Greg Abbott, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini and Austin Community College history professor Andrés Tijerina will speak at the Tejano Monument anniversary ceremony at 2 p.m. at the monument’s site on the Capitol’s south lawn.

“You can’t tell the history of Texas without Tejano history,” said Brett Derbes, managing editor for the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas.

That’s why the celebration kicks off with a sold-out symposium featuring professors and historians discussing everything from ways to include Tejano history in public education to ways textbooks can highlight Tejano history. In 2016, the Texas State Board of Education rejected the inclusion of a Mexican-American studies textbook that critics said contained racist passages and factual errors.

Last spring, the Texas State Historical Association released an updated “Handbook of Tejano History”, a free and online resource that includes about 1,200 entries detailing the influence of Tejanos in the state. “We want to keep pushing forward making Tejano history available to everyone,” Derbes said.

Much of Tejano history also has been told through its music over the decades. “Tejano music was created in Texas,” said Aggie Sanchez, president of the Austin Tejano Music Coalition.

When Austin lost its Tejano radio stations in 2005, it sparked a community fight to bring the music back to the airwaves and helped launch the Austin Tejano Music Coalition. Today, 1600 AM plays Tejano music.

As Tejano legends have grown older, a new generation has gradually helped the music evolve. At noon at the south steps of the capitol, Tejano music lovers will discuss the music’s evolution and future.

For more than five years, the Austin Tejano Music Coalition has been infusing the Tejano music scene with young talent through its successful Canta Tejano Idol annual competition, which is loosely modeled after “American Idol.”

Saturday’s Tejano music concert, which goes from 1-8 p.m. across the Capitol at the Texas Department of Transportation parking lot at 125 E. 11th St., features a mix of emerging talent and veteran performers like Shelly Lares and Ram Herrera.

“We’re proud to be Tejano,” Sanchez said. “And we’re proud that Tejano music is still enjoyed worldwide.”

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