San Antonio – From November 15 to 17 Our Lady of the Lake University hosted the Holding Up The Mirror Conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 168 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Hearing on Mexican Americans in the Southwest. Former mayors Julián Castro and Henry Cisneros served as keynote speakers for the event and were joined together by panelists from all over San Antonio to discuss the progress the Latino community has made.
Panelists were welcomed Friday morning with a warm, “Buenos Dias!” in Our Lady of the Lake’s Thirty Auditorium by Chief of Policy at the City of San Antonio Mayor’s Office Marisa Bono, President of Our Lady of the Lake University Dr. Diane Melby, and District seven councilwoman Ana Sandoval. The three opened with powerful words that captured the amount of gratitude the Latino community has made in regards to its progress. “The movement was homegrown here in Texas,” Bono said.
After the general session former mayors Cisneros and Castro held an opening conversation that covered important issues such as affordable housing projects, how civil rights have progressed in the past 50 years and the educational progression in low-income areas. Education is the catalyst that will lead young people on the right path to change the statistics, as well as every stereotype that other put-upon Latinos. While all of these issues can be fixed by taking action, “it doesn’t help when the president of the United States targets Latinos,” Cisneros said.
There was a message almost every panel had in common directed to today’s youth. Panelist Armando Rendon said “Always be critical, but with love…reshape the world, but build on the past.” It’s crucial that both current and future generations know they have the power to change issues that affect their communities. During the closing session on Saturday speaker Jessica Azua shared her testimony of her American Dream, crossing the border at 14 years old to get an education she couldn’t receive back home. “I know what it’s like to live in the shadows,” Azua says as she tells her journey to get to the United States. She then holds up the pants she wore while crossing the border: “These pants remind me that I can’t waste my time here.” Through this trauma, she became a graduate from Texas A&M University and now is a State Immigration Coordinator. “I have learned it’s okay to be hurt…and to be strong and vulnerable like I am with you right now,” Azua said. Young people are the future, and in the way this society has been shaped, people like Azua keep the Latino dream alive with hope.
The conference enriched the community n where the Latino community progressed and what still needs to be addressed for improvement. Lifetime Community Activist and Executive Committee member of the conference Maria Antonietta Berriozabal said, “Now we start the next 50 years…the seeds have been planted at Our Lady of the Lake University this weekend.” It is only going up for the Latino community. Chicano history acts a base for future for generations to come and will continue to shape the minds of activists, local community leaders, and the voices for those who previously didn’t have one. With fifty years down, the next fifty years start now!