Fronteras: Finding Maria Moreno & An 'Homenaje' To San Antonio's West Side Elders | Texas Public Radio

Fronteras: Finding Maria Moreno & An 'Homenaje' To San Antonio's West Side Elders

Dec 7, 2018

While researching the farm worker movement, filmmaker Laurie Coyle came across several black and white photos. One woman, who appeared frequently in the photos, was later discovered to be Maria Moreno (00:17). And a new book of original song collaborations tell the stories of San Antonio West Side’s oldest residents (15:50).


Laurie Coyle (right), a documentary filmmaker and writer, in the TPR studio with Norma Martinez (left) to discuss Coyle's new documentary "Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno."
Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio

Before Chavez And Huerta, There Was Moreno

The names Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta will forever come to mind when we think of the farm worker movement. In 1962, they founded the National Farm Workers Association — which later became the United Farm Workers of America — and it was the first successful farm workers union in America. But Chavez and Huerta were not the only ones, or even the first, to fight for farm workers’ rights.

Maria Moreno was a mother of 12 and a devout Pentecostal. But it was her hard work in the fields that caught the attention and admiration of her Mexican-American, Filipino, African-American and Okie farm worker peers. They selected her as their representative, making Moreno not only the first female organizer of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, but the first female leader of a farm worker union in the U.S.

Coyle’s curiosity of the little-known trailblazer in the 20th century farm worker movements ultimately led to the production of her documentary, “Adios Amor — The Search for Maria Moreno.”

Lourdes Pérez, musician, composer, poet, and creator of "Still Here: Homenaje al Westside de San Antonio" stands before a crowd to present her work at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.
Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio

West Side San Antonio's Elders: 'I'm Still Here'

The West Side of San Antonio is predominantly poor and Hispanic, but many of its residents couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. In a new book of song collaborations, some of the area’s oldest residents shared their experiences, memories, and love for their neighborhood.

 

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.