Mexican-American leader focus of exhibit
The life and writings of a Mexican-American who was honored by Spain for his civic work is currently available for the UH community to examine in an exhibit on campus.
“In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals” is on display in the Special Collections of the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library until March 1.
The exhibit highlights the life and work of Perales, a leader in the Mexican-American movement and a vocal opponent of racial discrimination during the 20th century.
Patricia Bozeman, head of the Special Collections notes the pleasure her department has in showcasing this seminal collection in conjunction with the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, which was launched in 1992 by Arte Público Press in order to recover, index and publish lost Latino writings.
“Special Collections is delighted to have forged a working relationship with the Recovering of the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Program to archive and make accessible valuable collections such as the Alonso S. Perales Papers.”
Perales’ role as a prominent figure during the Mexican-American movement and a voice for the minority community provides much content for the exhibit.
In 1920’s Texas, Perales helped found the League of United Latin-American Citizens, a political club for Mexican-Americans that is still active today. Other political activities that he took part in included the Independent Voters Association and writing legislation about racial discrimination.
He was also a respected lawyer, activist in the civil rights movement for Mexican-Americans and a loving father and husband who never lost sight of his family or community.
Perales received many recognitions during his life, but the highest was being decorated by Spain with the Medal of Civil Merit, one of the nation’s most prestigious civil honors, for his civic work.
The collection features a variety of different media outlets including unique video footage of Perales’ daughter sharing her personal memories with her father from childhood.
Personal materials from his time with LULAC, his writings on many critical social issues, and information about his various contributions to social organizations are also part of the exhibit.
The exhibition also includes irreplaceable correspondences collected by Perales’ family members and other items open for the public to examine and enjoy.
This collection, with its rich history and materials, offers an informative and honest account of the struggle of the Mexican-American movement along with the influence Perales had in making its fight come true.
The collection not only honors Perales’ legacy, but it also helps to emphasize the importance of keeping his work and the work of the Mexican-American movement alive
Bozeman adds, “These primary resources are of vital importance in telling the story of the contributions and struggles of Mexican-Americans in Texas.”