August 24, 2018 – For Immediate Release
Descendants of the victims of a Texas massacre and scholars across the country called on the Texas Historical Commission (THC) to proceed with longstanding plans to erect a monument commemorating the 1918 Porvenir Massacre.
The THC approved an application for a Texas Historical Marker in 2015. Its staff subsequently worked with historical experts to develop the marker’s text. The THC commissioners approved the staff’s language on July 27, 2018, and ordered the marker cast to be ready for a September 1 unveiling ceremony. Under political pressure from the Presidio County Historical Commission (PCHC), the THC halted the casting of the long-sought marker days before the scheduled unveiling.
“Once again the descendants lost to the power of the Presidio County political dynasty that our own ancestors lost their lives to,” said Arlinda Valencia. Valencia’s great-grandfather, Longino Flores, was one of fifteen men and boys executed en masse in Porvenir, Texas, by Texas Rangers and local residents. The subsequent outcry resulted in investigations by the U.S. Army, the dismissal of Company B of the Rangers, and was featured in extensive hearings in the Texas legislature the following year.
Descendants of the slain and of witnesses to the atrocity have kept memories alive for generations. Reflecting on what the delay of the marker means to her family, Benita Albarado, granddaughter of Longino Flores said, “We feel emotionally drained after putting so much effort into this cause. This has been a let-down for the descendants who were looking forward to this event.”
Scholars across the country expressed concern about the THC’s actions. The American Historical Association wrote to the THC to express its concern about “irregularities” that depart from the “professionalism and scholarly integrity” that the THC staff had shown in developing the marker text. “The marker drafted by the THC is accurate and easily verifiable in records and testimony. Descendants have waited 100 years for the state to acknowledge this injustice against the victims,” said Dr. Monica Muñoz Martínez, a professor at Brown University and author of a book about the massacre. “It is not right to make them wait any longer.”
Descendant, organizer of unveiling ceremony
Dr. Monica Muñoz Martínez
Assistant Professor of American Studies, Brown University. Author of The Injustice Never Leaves you: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas (Harvard University Press, 2018), member of Refusing to Forget
Executive Director, Texas Historical Commission
Dr. Benjamin Johnson
Associate Professor of History, Loyola University Chicago. Author of Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans into Americans, member of Texas Institute of Letters and Refusing to Forget
Dr. Sonia Hernández
Associate Professor of History and Director of the Latino/a and Mexican American Studies Program at Texas A & M University, member of Refusing to Forget
Dr. John Morán González
Professor of English and Director of Center for Mexican American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, member of Refusing to Forget.
Dr. Trinidad Gonzales
History Instructor, South Texas College, and member of Refusing to Forget
Refusing to Forget (RTF)
Educational non-profit devoted to memorializing the border violence of the 1910s.
refusingtoforget.org and “Refusing to Forget” on Facebook
RTF Historical Marker page for Porvenir massacre: https://refusingtoforget.org/historical-markers/porvenir-massacre/
Past press coverage of Refusing to Forget Project
General Links: https://refusingtoforget.org/press/
Hidalgo County Historical Marker: https://riograndeguardian.com/state-historical-marker-for-1915-matanza-unveiled-today/
Undertold Marker Program, THC.
This program seeks to “promote diversity of topics, and proactively document significant underrepresented subjects or untold stories.” The Porvenir marker was approved and finalized under the auspices of this program, which since 2006 has resulted in the installation of 100 markers.