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Remembering the Mexican Revolution in Word, Film, and Song

The Fall 2010 Alvarez Seminar Recalls San Antonio's Role in the 1910 Revolution

By Russell Guerrero '83

Murchison Professor Arturo Madrid (left) poses with San Antonio writers Sandra Cisneros and John Philip Santos. Both authors read from their published works at an Alvarez Seminar event titled 'Narratives of the Mexican Revolution."

November 2010 — One hundred years ago, Francisco Madero, a Mexican political leader opposed to the dictatorship of President Porfirio Diaz, published his famous Plan of San Luis Potosi, which declared recent Mexican presidential election results null and void and called for a revolution.

That document – which effectively started more than ten years of war and changed the destiny of Mexico – was written in part and first published in San Antonio.

This fall, Trinity’s Mexico, the Americas and Spain (MAS) program marked the anniversary with a series of events using music, film, and the spoken word to commemorate the impact of the Mexican Revolution.  

The Alvarez Seminar on “San Antonio and the Mexican Revolution of 1910/San Antonio y la Revolución Mexicana de 1910,” was organized and hosted by Arturo Madrid, Murchison Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures. Madrid said it was relevant to commemorate the event since San Antonio played an important role in the Mexican Revolution. Both sides used San Antonio as their headquarters at one time or another during the conflict and the city served as a place of refuge for those displaced by revolution.   

San Antonio musician Azul Barrientos played guitar and sang Mexican ballads popularized during war in an event highlighting 'The Music of the Mexican Revolution."

“It seemed only fitting that the Trinity community be exposed to an historical event that affected and continues to affect the life of this community,” said Madrid. “The music, the films, and the narratives of the Mexican Revolution are part of our cultural fund and they need to be passed on to new generations.”

The first event in the seminar was titled “The Music of the Revolution,” and featured historian Gilbert Hinojosa from the University of the Incarnate Word and musician Azul Barrientos.  During the presentation, Hinojosa provided an illustrated history of the revolution while Barrientos punctuated the lecture by playing and singing several corridos which were written during that tumultuous time.

A screening of the 1936 film, Vamonos con Pancho Villa, was the focus  of the second seminar event and included a presentation on “The Films of the Mexican Revolution” by film scholar Zuzana Pick from Carleton University, Ottawa.

An "electronic mural" which included photos of families affected by the revolution was created by local artist George Cisneros (no relation to Sandra). The mural expanded during the seminar as several people contributed personal photos to be included in the video presentation.

San Antonio authors Sandra Cisneros and John Philip Santos, along with academics Gabriela Franco from the Institutional Cultural Mexicano, José Antonio Vela from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and local community leader Maria Antonietta Berriozábal gave readings in both Spanish and English for the final event, titled “Narratives of the Mexican Revolution.” The selections each speaker chose illuminated the impact of the war from a human standpoint.  For example, Berriozábal read a passage from her upcoming memoir that recounted how her grandparents were forced to leave Mexico and how they settled in Central Texas.

In addition, San Antonio artist George Cisneros created an electronic mural consisting of photographs, many from family collections, that connected San Antonio to the revolution.  The video presentation was shown at each of the seminar events and continued to grow throughout the seminar as people contributed personal photos to the art project.

 “The events that comprised the seminar went especially well,” said Madrid. “The response of the audiences was exceptionally positive and encouraging.”

The Alvarez Seminar is made possible with support from the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Fund for MAS.

© 2010 Trinity University

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