Preserving History

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The McAllen Heritage Center is a museum dedicated to preserving and sharing the history and culture of McAllen, Texas. In June, the museum celebrated its 15th anniversary.

Elva Cerda is one of the three founders of the museum and currently serves as Executive Director.

“The other founders are Spurgeon’ Spud’ Brown and Dr. Nedra Kinerk. Of note, two people that were also important to our mission were Rick de Julio and Helen Snider. Sadly, they both passed away before our goal [of opening the museum] became a reality,” Cerda said.

“Our mission is basically to exhibit and teach about McAllen history. We also cover some regional history and partner with various groups to bring in rotating exhibits about other subjects of interest,” she said.

Beginning on Aug. 2, 2023, through Aug. 31, 2023, the newest exhibit entitled “In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez” will be showcased at the museum.

“In His Own Words” takes participants through the full course of Chávez’s outstanding career and examines the life experiences and influential forces that led him to dedicate himself to improving the lives of American farmworkers.

This exhibit will feature thirty-eight photographs paired with excerpts from César Chávez’s spirited speeches, interviews, and authoritative writings.

César Chávez is a highly influential historical figure as he co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to become the United Farmworkers Labor Union.

The United Farm Workers labor union fights for the rights of farm workers, covering issues such as overtime, heat safety, pesticides, and other worker protections.

“In [the fall], we will host local author Thomas Garcia [who will be] reading from his book The River Runs: Stories at 1:00 p.m. on September 16, 2023, followed by a book signing reception,” Cerda said.

The River Runs: Stories is a collection of short stories from 2015 to 2020, providing readers with a fresh perspective into Texas-Mexico border culture. Garcia’s stories include themes of perseverance in the face of trouble and the unknown.

The River Runs: Stories won the Américo Paredes Literary Arts Prize for Fiction, sponsored by FlowerSong Press from McAllen, Texas and Prickly Pear Publishing from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“In October, our Sunset Mini Festival at La Placita Park will happen on Saturday, October 21, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. [And], in November, we will present our final Art Show for the year which will run through the end of 2023,” Cerda said.

“The museum is for everyone,” she said.

“Art shows, and other presentations, festivals, and many other activities are planned carefully to appeal to a broad age range.”

“We offer field trips to the local school districts and also offer a program for local teachers that allows them to check out materials so they can teach history in the classroom,” Cerda said.

The McAllen Heritage Center offers free admission. The museum provides the perfect opportunity to escape the heat with family this summer and learn about the community’s history.

The McAllen Heritage Center is open Wednesday through Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and the second and fourth Friday of each month from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The rear of the building offers free parking. To find out more information, please visit mcallenheritagecenter.com.

Jillian Cameron