On May 5th, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, the Mexican Army defeated the invading French forces in Puebla, Mexico. Eighty- two years later it would be my great-grandfather, Carlos B. Reyes, who spearhead the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in south Texas in honor of the General’s victory. In addition to organizing the festivities every year on Cinco de Mayo, my great grandfather wrote dozens of letters to local and state officials, both in Texas and in Mexico to see the General properly honored with a statue near his hometown of La Bahia, Texas. My great grandfather won those petitions, and thus the statue still stands, standing guard over the fort at Goliad.
Also among those letters were letters Carlos wrote petitioning for the desegregation of schools in south Texas, and letters demanding a streetlight so that the local Latinx students could cross the highway to school safely.
He wrote dozens of letters every year for over forty years, always demanding more from his representatives, never letting them forget Goliad and the needs of its people.
For my fieldwork residency, I have archived all of his letters so that generations from now Cinco de Mayo can be remembered not as an appropriated party holiday with rum drinks, but as a monument to not only Zaragoza, but to Carlos and the people of south Texas as well.