Local leaders have organized themselves and created SALSA, the Strategic Alliance for Leadership and Social Action. The group will continue to grow its leadership circle and begin organizing the community, which today is estimated to number over 5,000.

The group began organizing itself last spring with the leadership of Dr. Juan Andrade, a former Brownwood resident and president of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), a Chicago-based national non-partisan nonprofit organization.

Andrade co-founded USHLI in 1982 and is the fourth Mexican American in history to be decorated by the government of Mexico and a president of the United States, and the only Brownwood High School and Howard Payne graduate to receive a medal from the President “for the performance of exemplary deeds of service for the nation.”

The group spear-headed the dedication of the pavilion at Wiggins Park held Aug. 10, 2019. The pavilion was constructed in 1973 by the City of Brownwood as part of improvements to the park requested by a group led by Mexican American community leaders.

This year SALSA has raised $8,000 to pay for 36 trees donated to Wiggins Park in memory of prominent Mexican American families who started settling in Brownwood in 1921 and flourished in the 1930s and 1940s.

A memorial plaque, bearing the name of each individual family being honored and memorialized, will be embedded in a concrete block and placed by each tree. The trees are scheduled to be planted by the city as soon as possible.

A dedication of the memorial trees will be held later this year.

In explaining the name, Andrade said:

• Strategic means the group will plan its work and work its plans to yield expected outcomes.

• Alliance means united in purpose and open to collaborating with like-minded allies.

• Leadership is what the group collectively comprises and promotes.

• Social encompasses culture, civic engagement, and social responsibility.

• Action means getting the job done.

In compliance with current legal restrictions and the advice of health experts, SALSA will continue to organize itself and the greater community via email, text and conference calls to plan its work for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021.