Members of the Hispanic community and Brownwood city officials gathered at Wiggins Park Saturday morning, where the Victoria Pavilion, which we constructed in 1974, was dedicated in honor of seven leaders.
Those seven leaders organized the Mexican-American community and brought about historic social and political change, Dr. Juan Andrade, president of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute in Chicago, said at the dedication.
Brownwood City Council member Larry Mathis read a proclamation naming Saturday as "Dia del Barrio.”
“This will be the first time in 100 years that the Mexican- American community will be honored in the history of Brownwood,” Andrade said.
Andrade is a Brownwood native and a 1970 graduate of Howard Payne University.
Andrade, his brother Joel and sister Jane organized a group of 10 leaders to plan an Aug. 9-11 reunion of more than 100 Mexican-Americans, residents and former residents who were born in Brownwood in the late 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Andrade earlier via email.
“This is a historic occasion in which a generation of Mexican-Americans is coming together to celebrate their life experiences growing up in Brownwood and their impact throughout Texas and other states,” Andrade said.
At the Victoria Pavilion, a plaque was unveiled in honor of “seven Mexican-American activists who organized and led the people through 30 months (March 1972 — September 1974) of community improvement and civic engagement projects,” according to the plaque.
The projects included paving 11 blocks of streets, increasing job opportunities, promoting economic and social change, providing leadership development training, increasing voter registration and electing the first Mexican-American to public office, the plaque proclaims.
“This pavilion stands as a symbol of the power in unity, civic participation and collaboration between a community and its governmental entities,” the plaque proclaims.
The leaders who are honored are Raymond Cardenas, Philip Contreras, Nino Gonzalez, Joe Cardenas, Johnny Deanna, Nando Martinez and Andrade.