Three oral presentations of women’s experiences were archived.
By Deandra Gonzalez
A video interview with local activist Mary Agnes Rodriguez shows her painting and recollections of protesters trying to stop a demolition of a local dance hall from 1928.
This is one of three videos that were part of an oral history project presented by students at the SAC Women’s History Month Oral History Project April 2 in Chance Academic Center.
The students who volunteered for the project were construction science, international studies, political science and Mexican-American studies majors.
Their task was to find the women and formulate interview questions about the interviewees’ experience, political views and local history.
The other women interviewed were Elizabeth Jenkins, retired military medic who spoke of her father’s racism, and Virginia Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant and owner of a small cleaning company who expressed gratitude to the American government.
History Professor Marianne Bueno, co-chair of the Women’s History Month Committee, wanted students to capture the experiences and stories of women.
She said history was typically told by white men — presidents, military leaders, business leaders and civic leaders.
“Women make history just as much as men make history,” Bueno said. “Oral history was used to help bring women into the larger historical narrative of the nation.”
In the interview with Rodriguez, she spoke about the story behind her painting, “Save la Gloria,” which shows protesters holding signs and standing in front of La Gloria, a popular rooftop dance hall since 1928, from being demolished.
In 2002, San Anto Cultural Arts, a growing nonprofit organization focusing on community-based arts, was trying to buy the property.
The day of the demolition Rodriguez stood with protesters in front of La Gloria before having to be moved. They had a restraining order, which helped delay the demolition.
“We did delay tactics,” Rodriguez said. “We did the human chain.”
Rodriguez and the other protesters chained themselves to the building by their necks.
“We were waiting there for the man with the restraining order,” she said.
Rodriguez said that after she heard her chain click around her neck, she saw the man running and screaming. Rodriguez, who wasn’t going to unlock the chain, made the man find the key and unlock it himself.
La Gloria, located in the West Side at South Brazos and Laredo, was demolished in two days.
Mexican-American studies sophomore Johanna Briones, who interviewed Rodriguez, said she found her because she knew of her art.
“I’ve seen her art all over the place,” Briones said. “I figured it would be good to have a documentation of this person.”
Briones said she and the other students got together to ask each women questions and conducted the interviews in four weeks.
Rodriguez made an appearance at the end of the presentation and stayed after to take pictures with students.
The full length interviews can be found here:
Mary Agnes Rodriguez: