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El Weekender

No 79

No Space for Mexicans

By Felix Alvarado

There are two issues about Fort Worth that we should all agree on.  One, is that it is a diverse city, two is that it is having racial problems.  You can almost say that the racial problems come from the first issue.


North Texas and Fort Worth have a rich Mexican American history going back to the traqueros (track workers), (early 1870’s) that installed the railroad and the coal miners that came (1882) to dig the coal needed by the steam engines.  Coal mine owners wanted a stable workforce so they encouraged the miners to bring their family.  As the coals mines started shutting down, miners found their way to Fort Worth (1903) to the meat packing plants and the rolling mills.  As the demand for workers increased recruiters were sent to Mexico to bring more Mexicans to Fort Worth to work.

The Mexicans may not have been welcomed by the KKK but certainly businessmen were fond of having a ready supply of labor.  Good labor.  It was the kind of labor needed to build the infrastructure of Fort Worth. The 1880 census shows a presence of Mexicans in Fort Worth doing odds and ends type of work.  They were probably traqueros that got hurt and opted to stay here instead of returning to Mexico.  The early Mexicans bought land in the southside to build their homes.  In the northside they bought the houses and land where Whites moved out.  You could almost say that Mexicans came to stay.

Mexicans built a proud Texas Mexican culture in North Texas.  Tex-Mex food, Tejano music, Lowriders and it is not a stretch to say they even brought the Catholic Church to North Texas. 

For all the contributions that Mexican Americans have made to Fort Worth, there is little to highlight that contribution aside from the 5o de Mayo, 16 de septiembre and Lowrider Expos.  These events are a win-win for the city.  Other ethnic groups that do not normally have contact with the city’s Mexican roots come and learn about us.  We have a reason to be proud of who we are and celebrate our heritage.  It is a medium for our young people to learn their heritage.  Something they do not learn at school. 

The Issues:

I had a long discussion with Tony Vasquez, Tejano Gold Radio.  He has a lot of memorabilia on all the events he has done in Fort Worth going back of twenty years.  The Best of the Best of Tejano music have been here Selena included.  These events are a medium to instill cultural pride to all Latinos of Fort Worth.

For some reason, the city of Fort Worth has now decided that it wants to minimize the presence of Mexican American events in downtown.  Supposedly the visitors litter the streets too much.  Whereas in previous years Tejano Gold has had from the convention center up two blocks, this year they are limited a tiny space in General Worth Square.  Hardly enough space to showcase anything.  Sponsors have also told Tejano Gold that they have been directed by someone in the city to not sponsor the event.

I attended a meeting with the staff of Ojos Locos in downtown Fort Worth.  Ojos Locos too is being pushed out of downtown.  Again, it is unverifiable innuendos that are being used to push the restaurant out of its location.  Such maneuvers are confusing and perplexing, especially when it difficult to ascertain the source of the information.   One must ask if this is an attempt by the city to rid itself of its Mexican roots in favor of an Anglo only culture.


We at Nuestra Voz understand the need for economic development.  Economic development however. should not come at the expense of social and educational development of its Mexican American citizens.  To do so risks creating a large permanent underclass that will surely populate our prisons even more.


That Fort Worth reassess its policy on Latino businesses and events downtown.  North Texas has a Mexican heritage.  It is not Hispanic or Latino, it is Mexican.


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