My Mission Statement

It is nearly the end of my first semester as a Public History graduate student. As I reflect on all the things I’ve learned and think about where I most want to make an impact, diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of my mind. Throughout my professional career I’ve gravitated to informal education which has given me the opportunity to explore different non-profit organizations in Austin and San Antonio. I am passionate about working with the under-served community, partly because of my own experiences growing up in the barrio. I come from a family of migrant workers, many of which did not receive a formal education. As an adult, I’ve worked at many places that my parents couldn’t afford to take me when I was a child such as the San Antonio Zoo and the Children’s Museum of San Antonio. Social and economic inequality tend to breed cultural inequality, leading to an unfortunate systematic imbalance.

According to the 2016 National Awareness, Attitude, and Usage Study many museums and other institutions are not sufficiently diverse.  Audience diversification is an area that museums need to grow and improve.

Data provided by the National Awareness, Attitude, and Usage Study

The National Art Education Association (NAEA) Museum Education Division and the Association of Art Museum Directors conducted a study on the impact of art museum programs on K-12 students. The study concluded that there are a variety of educational benefits that can be gleaned from visits to museums including questioning, developing multiple interpretations, and engaging the senses. I think this can be applied to a multitude of experiences in other educational institutions. For instance, one can watch a myriad of nature documentaries but nothing really compares to being face to face with a giraffe, playing tug of war with a lion, or being immersed in a tropical habitat with butterflies flying all around you. All of these are experiences that you can have at the San Antonio Zoo but at $18.99 per adult and $15.99 per child for general admission plus extra for interactive exhibits, these are experiences that not everyone will be able to afford.

If you would like to one day work in the museum field, on the job experience is essential. There are many unpaid internships that offer valuable experience in the museum industry. However, if you lack the financial means these opportunities are way too costly to take advantage of. A full time internship is essentially a job without the pay. If the internship is out of town, relocation and living expenses must also be taken into account. The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) is launching a program to diversify the museum landscape by offering paid internships for minority undergraduate students at ten art museums across the country. The project aims to “proactively address the demographic disparity in our industry by recognizing that access to funds is sometimes the biggest hurdle for many people”, according to Madeleine Grynsztejn, the president of AAMD. The program was developed after a 2015 study by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the American Alliance of Museums revealed that “minorities made up 28% of staff in US museums, but non-Hispanic white staff members held 84% of the more prestigious positions like curators, conservators and educators”. The program offers students a 12-week placement with a stipend of $6,300. The students will work alongside mentors and help with educational programs and exhibition projects.

Diversity is also taking different forms outside of traditional venues. People want their stories to be told and they are creating a medium specifically for that purpose. Zines are self-published original works, usually reproduced via photocopier for circulation. Launched from a copy machine in San Antonio, Texas, St. Sucia “tackles Latina feminism on a spectrum far and wide, the inclusive zine showcases a kaleidoscope of experiences, beyond borders and the binary, giving a voice to the underrepresented”. The inclusive zine is now included in university syllabuses for Gender Studies and Chicano Studies at universities across the nation. St. Sucia is made up of Isabelle Ann Castro and Natasha Hernandez, and includes submissions from all over. Natasha emphasizes the importance of giving a voice to Latinx mujeres: “It’s super important to just see yourself represented in the community, to see things are possible. All these things are important for us to feel validated, like we can dream to be all these things”.

This is my chosen profession and I want to work towards this goal of increasing diversity and inclusiveness in museums. Museums should be sites of empowerment, where audiences of all racial and ethnic backgrounds can see themselves reflected. Children’s author Xelena Gonzalez encapsulated this sentiment:

Every child should see their own reality reflected in stories, their own skin celebrated. For to love oneself is to love the world in a better way, and to understand one another expands the gift beyond our sphere“.

To accomplish this feat, there needs to be reform at all levels to provide sufficient representation in audience and staff at museums and other institutions. I strive to transform the museum from an ivory tower into an institution of everyday life for all.

The Colombian Exposition of 1893: Killers Past and Present

1892 marked the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas.  To mark the occasion the 1893 World’s Fair would be a celebration of that event.  The city of Chicago won the right to host the fair, beating out New York in a

Field Museum Flickr

very close vote.  Planners would put on an incredible display of human achievement on the shores of the biggest lake in the United States.  Officially it was called the World’s Colombian Exposition, its nickname was The White City.  The main focus of the exposition would be Columbus’ voyage, however, the plan would be to show off all sorts of exhibits from around the world.  Any country that wanted to participate would be given a display area to showcase their culture and achievements.  As with other World’s Fairs during this time, many new inventions would be seen by the public for the first time.  However, the legacy of the White City would not be the glimpse into the future it provided, but a legacy of death.

A Celebration Built on a Lie

By the 1880s, it was known that Columbus was not the first European to set foot in the Americas.  Researchers had uncovered evidence that Leif Ericsson had landed in Eastern Canada and made it as far south as modern

Brooklyn Museum Flickr

day Massachusetts.  Usually when new evidence is uncovered, the story is retold with the new facts, however in this case a powerful organization in the United States that would use its influence to keep Columbus in a place of historical prominence.  The Italian American Association used its influence to prevent Columbus from being demoted in the history books in the wake of these new revelations.  Their lobbying efforts were successful in keeping Columbus and his voyage the main focus of the 1893 World’s Fair.  Through their continued efforts Columbus would eventually receive a national holiday, one that is steeped in controversy.   Columbus changed the course of history, there is no doubt about that.  The problem with the Columbus story is the way it has been told in schools for many years.  In most textbooks Columbus gets the hero treatment.  The part of the story that gets left out is the millions of deaths he is responsible for.   The 1893 World Colombian Exposition did not mention his kidnapping of natives who were taken back to Spain and paraded through the streets like trophies.  Nor would visitors find a description of his treatment of the natives, who he and his men tortured to make them hunt for gold.  Details like how he spread disease among the natives would go untold in favor of tales of heroism, the wonders of discovery, and the opening up of this great land to the pioneers that would follow.  Not exactly the multi-voiced truth of history that one would hope to find today.

A Celebration of Mass Murder Hides a Serial Killer

Columbus’ blood soaked legacy was not the only horror attached to the 1893 Exposition.  Blocks from the fair a man opened a building and rented out rooms to people coming from out of town to visit the fair.  Many who rented a room there never checked out.  The building was owned by Dr. H. H. Holmes, and would be known as the Murder Castle.  History would record Holmes as America’s first serial killer, and most of his killing would be done in his Chicago complex that he custom-made for murder.  There were hidden gas vents for killing unsuspecting guests.  Chutes ran from rooms directly to a sub-basement where a kiln oven awaited bodies dumped down the chute,  incinerated with no one the wiser.  Due of the shoddy record keeping at the time, no one knows how many people died in that building.  Estimates are between 20 and 200, and there is no way to do any forensic research since the building was burnt down and any remaining evidence has been long destroyed.

The Best and the Worst of Humanity

It is ironic that the first serial killer in America operated in the shadow of a celebration of the first mass murder in the history of the Americas.  The World’s Colombian Exposition of 1893 is a reminder of how important multiple voices are when telling any history story.  By giving the Italian American Association too big a voice Columbus stands much taller in history than he probably should.  Today you can still visit grounds where the fair was held.  The main attraction is the Museum of Science and Industry, a museum dedicated to the technical achievements of man, much like the fair was.  While the fair did give us the Ferris Wheel, it also gave us an important lesson about how we remember history.

 

Additional Reading

The Chicago Sun Times “On its 125th birthday, what’s left from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition?” 4/29/2018

Larson, Erik  The Devil in the White City  Crown Publishers 2003

 

 

When Sears Used to Tower Over the Land

The competition among retail stores is brutal; it always has been.  Most people are familiar with the names JC Penny,  Montgomery  Ward, Woolworth’s, Marshall Fields, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Sears.  Most of these stores have been operating for one hundred years or longer.  Some like Macy’s have given us iconic institutions like a Thanksgiving Day Parade, or like Sears who gave us the tallest building in the US at the time.  Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer was

Now called Willis Tower this was originally the headquarters of Sears Dept Store. https://theskydeck.com/the-tower/

an advertising creation of Montgomery Ward who, more importantly, also started the catalog mail order service.  This business model would be copied by Sears and Roebuck.  Sears would become so successful at it they eventually rose to be the biggest retailer in the United States, a title they would hold from the 1920s until 1989.  Sears would actually play an important role in the history of the United States, and even as they currently struggle to stay in business they have made a lasting impression on the history of America.

The Internet is to Amazon as the Mail was to Sears

 The 1900s in the United States is going to see the end of what many call the Wild West period.  Millions of Americans were living in rural areas with very few of the amenities city dwellers enjoyed.  Sears would build his empire on the desire for quality goods otherwise not available to these people.  Modeling the idea that Ward pioneered, Sears would send catalogs out to rural homes offering thousands of goods they could order.  The items were shipped out and they could pick them up at the local train station.  Sears was instrumental in bringing city comforts to the rural population of America.  It evened the social divide between farmers and city folk.  People could buy almost anything from Sears.  Clothes, veterinary supplies, hubcaps, or even houses were all offered for sale among the pages.  While Sears helped make America by helping to break a social divide between rural and urban people in the United States, they would play another big role in breaking a different divide in America.

Through the Mail, No One Can See the Color of Your Skin

The first half of the twentieth century in America was marked by a deep racial divide.  This was the height of the Jim Crow era when African Americans were legally second class citizens.  They were not afforded the same rights as non-colored citizens.  Not only was the discrimination legal, but there was also the de-facto discrimination.  Businesses did not have to treat non-white customers with any form of equality.  African Americans were barred from sitting at lunch counters with whites or using the same doors as whites to enter buildings.  With zero legal protection, there were limited options for African Americans to have a positive shopping experience.  Enter the Sears catalog.  Ordering merchandise through the mail was a colorless experience.  The people filing the orders had no way of knowing if the customer was white, black, or brown.  This allowed African Americans to shop within the relative safety of their homes.  They had access to the same items that whites had access too.  They didn’t have to settle for poor treatment and inferior goods at the local store, they could get quality merchandise through the mail.  Everyone was equal in the processing room of Sear’s warehouse.

In Conclusion

Sears may not be around much longer.  Wards closed its last store about fifteen years ago, and Sears may be following suit.  When the last store closes its doors and turns off the lights for the last time a chapter of American history will close with it.  Sears might get a passing mention in a few history classes, but its contributions to the history of the United States will go mostly ignored.  These are the stories that we can not afford to lose, and that we should not allow being forgotten.

A Museum’s Mission: A Message of Urgency

In the last thirty years, there has been a paradigm-shift in community perception towards museums. More and more museum professionals are becoming comfortable experimenting with exhibit format and taking risks. This change has resulted in museums becoming vessels for dialogue and a conduit between living history and the community. For example, the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways had a very deliberate mission in mind, coupled with newer, riskier presentation methods. Their mission was to educate the public to the plight of contemporary Native Americans, share the history of the Anishinabe people, and serve as a place of healing for those who have experienced historical trauma. The Ziibiwing Center accomplished these feats through strict adherence to their mission statement:

The Ziibiwing Center is a distinctive treasure created to provide an enriched, diversified and culturally relevant educational experience. This promotes the society’s belief that the culture, diversity and spirit of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and other Great Lakes Anishinabek must be recognized, perpetuated, communicated and supported.

The clarity of their message, the relevance of their goals to the community and the sincerity shown served to lend the Ziibiwing Center’s mission a sense of urgency to their community. The museum is not just a repository of artifacts and knowledge. It serves as a proponent for social change and cultural preservation in their community. It is my belief that as museum experts become more professional and are drawn from academic backgrounds, museums will serve as a vanguard to inspire reforms in social justice, inspire unity and collaboration in communities. Museums and museum professionals will accomplish this feat by starting a dialogue with the community utilizing the language of history and cultural experience.

Since this is in some ways a departure from what museums have historically been, the mission statements of museums must be reflected upon as well. In  a sense, these ‘new model’ museums serve to inspire collaboration and empathy. ‘Old model’ museums served to educate the public on established truths with minimal room for dialogue and debate. Museums have historically served, as I stated before, as a repository of artifacts and knowledge. Many newer museums are performing this same task, while simultaneously valuing the input of their community and incorporating their stories into the running narrative. In this way, the ‘new model’ museum is a community center, a forum, a grief counselor, a cultural icon and a leader in the community. While this may be chasing an ideal somewhat, the proponents of the Ziibiwing Center would certainly testify to this statement’s truth. Museum professionals should continue to communicate history as a living, breathing entity that permeates every facet of our society. In doing so, museums will show that history is identity, and that the preservation of that history is a means to perpetuate the ‘life-ways’ of a community.

 

It’s Sundown, Are you Suppose to be here?

With the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the passing of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution, the United States became a very different place for the people who were held in slavery.  They were now legal citizens, could now be taught how to read, and were free to pursue their own destinies, however it was not going to be that easy.  During the ten years of the Reconstruction period the former slaves made great gains socially, economically, and politically.  With the protection of the Federal Government in the form of soldiers that were overseeing the Reconstruction process, African Americans were able to hold elected office, start businesses, and build schools.  However, with the end of Reconstruction and the withdraw of the soldiers from Southern states, the former slaves and their children lost the support of the Federal Government.  As power returned to the states and cities the defeated rebels would try everything they could to hold on the the old social order.  Poll taxes and literacy tests would suppress the African-American vote.  The Klu Klux Klan would rise to frighten and terrorize those who sought equality between the former slaves and their former masters.  One of the main ways to control the African American population was to pass city ordinances preventing the ownership of property by “colored people”.  These laws would lead to the creation of Sundown Towns.

A decent place to work, but you are not allowed to live there.

The term Sundown Town refers to a city or town that has legal ordinances that prevent minorities, usually African Americans, from owning property or renting a place to live within the city limits.  They could come in an work there, but they had to be out by sundown, hence the name.  The main goal of these laws was an attempt to keep the social order of the Antebellum South where separation of the races was a hard and fast rule.  If they could no longer keep their African slaves at least they could keep the social order as best they could.  The result being that the townsfolk would see the African Americans working at their menial jobs, but when they returned home they would not have to be bothered with the sight of them.  Their children would not attend school or play in the same parks together.

A legacy of hypocrisy

In his autobiography, Malcolm X noticed how upper class white people would come to Harlem on Friday nights to dance to the bands made up of African American musicians.  He would point out that these people enjoying the music would not give the musician the time of day if they crossed paths on the street.  That same hypocrisy can be seen in the workings of a sundown town.  The people will allow the African Americans to come in and cook their food and clean their houses, but have no interest in getting to actually know them on a personal level.  The result of this separation has created a climate where racism will continue unabated.  One of the best ways to combat racism is to get to know people who are different from you.  If you never get a chance to interact with different people then stereotypes become more believable.  The lasting legacy of these towns can still be felt today.

Sundown Towns today

Dr. James Loewen has compiled oral histories of Sundown towns.  He details the work in his book Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism.  He also maintains a website for those interested in contributing toward his project.  He has compiled a list of towns in every state that have low percentages of African Americans.  He has been criticized for his research methods, however, his project should not be totally dismissed.  He makes a good point of identifying towns with skewed demographics, but he has a hard time proving the causes of those numbers.  His contention that some of the numbers are by design, but some of the numbers are there due to other socio-economic reasons.

Further Readings and Resources

The American Black Holocaust Museum

Traveling Route 66 While Black

 

Actors, Hispanics, and the Alamo

I came across this interesting article by the “Independent” that is written in the United Kingdom. This article by David Thomson is speaking of relevant American issues in many southern states, “Film Studies: ‘The Alamo’- it’s flopped again. And Here’s why…” It begins with the film industry when creating these films about the Alamo and their reactions from the audience. Multiple movies have been created like John Wayne’s version of “The Alamo” and two other films in the 1950’s that were favored from the audience.

This article has bias sprinkled throughout, but if you wipe some of that off one can see there are valid points to this article. The major points that Thomson is trying to make have to do with why these types of movies are not having such a positive response like they used to. He bases the problem on the actors who many are not culturally attuned with the character and have no background in the religion, nationality, or culture of these characters that are shown on the big screen.

Thomson points out a reason for this is due to not having enough A-list Latin American actors currently. We are at this transition when there is more of a Latin American population every year in the United States. Yet, what Thomson is saying is the representation in general for Latin Americans is low and that could mean in government and in film.

This article peaked my curiosity after a trip to the Alamo with my colleagues and from working there I have had time to digest a great deal of information. There are huge discrepancies in the John Wayne film that many are understanding today. Not only are there historical inaccuracies but there is also outright racism in some areas of the film against the Tejanos inside the town and the Mexican military. A change in the population of the United States has changed the ideals for many who want to be represented in the media and be represented in a positive light.

Creating a Micro-Documentary on this subject before if one looks at the most popular films that have to do with the Alamo. One will see this ideal, that the Texans are the hero’s and the Mexican military are the villains. To this day many Americans may feel the same sentiments but as time has passed people are beginning to look at this battle with an objective lens.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/film-studies-the-alamo-its-flopped-again-and-heres-why-58742.html

Thanksgiving a Story for Children

Thanksgiving, a time to welcome family home that one hasn’t seen for ages or welcome in new friends. Many Americans may say that the true essence of Thanksgiving is family, friends, relationships, food and football. We are taught in grade school with drawings of hand turkeys and Thanksgiving plays that it was a momentous occasion in the lives of pilgrims. That pilgrims were dying of starvation and the cold until the Native Americans of the area taught the pilgrims how to grow crops especially corn (I will leave out the history of corn for a whole other blog). At the end of the harvest all gathered around a table and had a large feast, now called the first Thanksgiving.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian beg to differ this whole story. In their new exhibit “Americans,” the visitor takes a look into the history of these different stories of Native Americans that we are taught as a child. The museum tries to separate fact from fiction and place the voices of Native American tribes who were affected by this history. The museum began this process with assigning the curator of this exhibit to be Mr. Paul Chaat Smith who is of Comanche Native American Descent and Cecile Ganteaume.

At the time of the first Thanksgiving the pilgrims who were involved did not may much attention to this single meal and was written about in passing. It was normal for pilgrims, natives, and many others to have an ending meal after the harvest. It was not until the American Revolution that George Washington desired a National Holiday to give thanks.

The idea did not receive momentum until the ending of the Civil War once the masses became captivated by this era of pilgrims. The article also points out that at around 1855 when all of this was happening a manuscript was found containing the writings of William Bradford. This perfect storm of sorts is what helped the creation of this national holiday and a change in the narration.

Some eye-opening points in this article for me must begin with, only 1% of the population is Native American and yet the commercialization of this group is astounding. Images of illustrated Native Americans can be seen on butter, canned vegetables, bike brands, sports teams, and a multitude of other subjects. We as a country are beginning to understand how these biases who we have become numb to are wrong.

Mr. Smith believes all these holidays and stories may be ways for us as Americans to play down what we really did to these Native people. Now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel because we as a nation are beginning to look back at our past with a scrutinizing lens and we in the public history community are trying to mend those wrongs by finding the truth and admitting what happened.

The “Americans” exhibit will be open to the public till 2022 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/how-unremarkable-brunch-forest-turned-thanksgiving-we-know-180970811/

“Latin History for Morons”: Public History on Netflix

As I was looking for inspiration for my next blog, I found it in the most peculiar of places, “Netflix”.  I was truly in a slump due to the dreary “Winter is coming!” weather so decided to see if there was anything new and interesting for me to watch and dissect with whoever was willing to put up with me that moment.  That is when I found John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” comedy.  Let me just say this.  WOW just WOW.  Satirical comedy and hard truth all rolled into one and wonderfully executed.  His dramatic portrayals reminded me a bit of Dave Chappelle, a satirical image of preconceived ideas while highlighting the ignorance of stereotypes.

Leguizamo tells the story of his son’s struggles that his history teacher assigned and the lack of representation of the Latinx community in the classroom.  His goes on to joke, but not really, about Latinos bearing the unfaced trauma of colonization and that’s why they are always emotional and angry.  He speaks about the Colombus’s colonization (please watch on Netflix what he calls him lol) and the colonization of the Incans in South America and that somehow Latinxs today carry these burdens.  He explains this is why he is struggling as a father to help his struggling son.

This is why we have Public History.  This is why we need to decolonize ourselves, our classrooms, our museums, our TV shows.  We need more of this.  It is so real and helps fill in the space of the empathy deficits that so many spaces face today.  Public History provides the tools to help do all of these things.  It provides a voice to those have been suppressed into being voiceless.  It revives the dead with social memories. It creates space for the histories that did not have a place once before.  Breaking down these barriers is SO IMPORTANT for those carry the burdens of oppression.  We work together to take off some of the weight of others.  We have a certain responsibility to act as agents of change with our positions of privilege to encourage a shift in our culture.

Even though older generations think of the millennials as the cry-babies and then gimme-gimmes.  We offer so much more than just being social media influencers, photographers by the dozen, and snowflakes.

We are the thinkers. We are the up and coming. We are the Revolutionaries. We are being taught that some change is definitely for the better.  We are creating the shift for others to learn from, for others to be released from the thousands of year old trauma.

Leguizamo ends his Netflix with the anecdote of his son’s eighth-grade graduation speech, “But the biggest thing that I  learned while I was failing outta school this year was, as one of my fellow classmates once said to me,  “You’re thing king of nothing.” But if the Mayans invented the concept of zero then nothing is not nothing. And if they can make something out of nothing then my hero is me.”

“But if the Mayans invented the concept of zero then nothing is not nothing and if they can make something out of nothing then my hero is me.”

This. Speaks. Levels.

Butterflies without Borders

Environmental history is “the study of interactions between culture and nature.” So let’s discuss the history of Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and how human populations have influenced this species over time. Monarch butterflies are bright orange with distinctive black and white markings. These butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants, which serve as the only food source for the growing caterpillars. Milkweed contains glycoside toxins that are harmless to the Monarchs but poisonous to predators, a very useful defense mechanism. Once the caterpillar goes through several developmental stages or instars, it forms a chysalis and eventually emerges as a butterfly.

North American Monarch butterflies are best known for their 3,000 mile long migratory journey, the mechanisms of which still baffle scientists to this day. Their migration, which spans several generations, takes them as far north as Canada and, during the winter months, as far south as Mexico City. In early Spring, Monarchs can be spotted in Texas and as the summer season rolls around, they migrate throughout the northern states up into Canada. Monarchs spend their winters in Mexico to avoid the freezing temperatures in the northern states. Most monarch butterflies only live for a few weeks. The last generation of each year is the over-wintering generation, which can live upwards of eight months in Mexico. Unfortunately, Monarch butterfly populations have declined by a staggering 90% in the last 20 years.

Recently, the Texas Butterfly Ranch hosted the third annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival from October 19 through October 21, 2018. The festival launched with an informative forum on the future of Monarch butterflies. The forum, titled “Butterflies without Borders: The Monarch Butterfly Migration and our Changing Climate,” discussed the ambiguous future of the Monarch Butterfly. The issues discussed included: the influence of GMOs and pesticides on migration patterns, availability of nectar and host plants, climate change, and the controversial border wall proposed by the Trump administration. The panel consisted of the following experts:

In July 2017, a crew of workers contracted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection illegally chopped down hundreds of trees, shrubs and other vegetation on private property belonging to The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. The land “serves as a habitat for more than 400 endemic and migratory species, including monarch butterflies.” Marianna Treviño Wright, the Executive Director of  The National Butterfly Center, describes the proposed border wall as a”waste of taxpayer dollars and an environmental disaster”. The National Butterfly Center has 11  distinct ecosystems and is home to a variety of Texas wildlife. The proposed border wall would be devastating for this wildlife, eradicating native habitats and host plants for butterflies, as well as isolating populations from each other. In addition, not all birds and butterflies will be able to fly over the 30 ft. vertical wall, cutting off migratory routes. The border wall would adversely impact “841 vertebrate species, 42 species of amphibians, 160 reptiles, 452 bird species, 187 mammals, and plant, fish, and invertebrates totaling 10,000 or more,” with many of these species likely facing extinction.

Future

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure a future for Monarchs and other pollinators:

  1. Create a healthy habitat garden for Monarch butterflies. For resources, click here. The Texas Butterfly Ranch is commemorating the Tricentennial with a pledge to build 300 pollinator habitats — 300for300.
  2. Get involved in programs around your city. Through the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, U.S. cities, municipalities, and other communities can complete action items aimed at enabling Monarch species survival and re-population. These action items include creating habitats for the monarch butterfly and pollinators, educating citizens about how they can make a difference at home and in their community. San Antonio is actually one of only three Monarch Champion Cities throughout Canada, Mexico, and the United Sates that has committed to every action item on the list. 
  3. Get out there and vote! If you believe that climate change is a pressing issue and want to ensure that Monarchs and other pollinators are made a priority, you must be politically active.

Habitat loss, overuse of pesticides, pollution, and looming border walls are abhorrent for many reasons but are also threats to the survival of pollinators and many other species. But you can make a difference, get out there and let your voice be heard.

“Why Should I Remember The Alamo?”: And A Collection Of Other Questions I Have

 What histories have been told over time that has left out the histories of others?

There are histories that have been left out and not told because the voices have been oppressed for hundreds of years.  Why are there histories that are remembered and not remembered?  Every history is multifaceted, trust me, if you don’t think it is, you just haven’t come across that history yet.  One local history that is familiar to almost all in Texas is, “The Battle of the Alamo.”

“Why Should I Remember the Alamo”

The well-known cry to “Remember The Alamo” is not just something local San Antonians and Texans remember but something that is held in the memories of people all over the world.  But why? And why does everyone remember the Alamo? What are we remembering?

When I ask the question, “Why should I remember the Alamo?”, it is one of two things. First, it is an honest question. I’m not trying to say I forget a piece of local history that shaped San Antonio.  As a student of Public History, I think it is important to know histories from all perspectives to gain better insight and personal experiences.  Second, I am not necessarily just asking the question.  I am leading a collection of questions I have within the original question.   It is to turn the gears in the brain to think deeper, to think on multiple layers.  The collection of questions are:

What am I remembering?

Most people that come and visit the Alamo do not understand that it did not just serve in the Texas Rebellion/Revolution.  The Alamo was controlled by the Spanish and then Mexicans.  It has a history of teaching the Catholic faith to others and supporting a city that has referred to as “The Buc-cee’s of the 17th and 18th century.  Many people, even me, do not retain that information about that portion of history because it is not where the yee-haw Texan identity is.

Why do you remember it?

I’m always being told to remember but why? Why should I? Historical Amnesia? Social memory? Why? Why? Why? Ah, maybe one point of view weighs more in the memories of Texans but maybe it is time to break down barriers.  To help revive the memory of what the Alamo was before 1836.  Maybe, it is time to apply that pressure now that the new museum is on its way.

Who am I remembering?

San Antonio has a very long history.  Yes, the city of San Antonio is 300 years old but people have been in this area for a very long time. The indigenous groups that lived here prior colonization have their histories almost forgotten in San Antonio because of the Alamo.  Then the history of the Alamo has some bits and pieces missing from social memory.  The history of the Alamo has become muddy waters becoming mixed with legends and myths.  Funny the war has a way of doing that to history, we are always looking for “heroes”.

“There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” – Chinua Achebe, “Paris Review” Interview 

I encourage others to add to the list, take away, do what they need to understand what is being taught and what is forgotten.