Communities and Schools in the Lower Rio Grande Valley: Continuities and Discontinuities
South Texas, particularly the Lower Rio Grande Valley, also known as the Rio Grande Delta, has one of the fastest-growing population areas in the state. The fact that the region is the “border” with México draws national attention but concomitantly, this area is one of the least known in the state, at least in terms of the people, their language and culture. In this section, we focus on communities and the families’ efforts toward improving their quality of life, particularly in the education of their children. Two sub-sections frame our report on “La Frontera Chica,” the alternative title to the Lower Rio Grande Valley: “Estamos Aquí – We are here: Voices from Colonias Along the US-México Border” and “When They Speak, We Listen: The Voices from a Community Center in the Heart of a Colonia.” The overriding themes in both sub-sections underscore the relentless pursuit of justice and equality amongst the featured communities, namely that the residents are continuously challenged but will never give up their fight.
‘Estamos Aquí – We are here:’ Voices from Colonias Along the US-México Border
A panoramic view, overlooking the southern part of Pharr, Texas, towards the U.S/Mexico border, reveals a magnificent landscape of milpas, stretched out in rows of planted crops and open skies. Some of these fields are tended by small groups of people, perhaps families, intensely laboring over their produce. These fields were in abundance decades ago, but urban encroachment has steadily diminished a great deal of what used to exist in both lifestyle and livelihood. The Rio Grande River (also known as el Río Bravo), which serves as the two-country boundary, provides the water that sustains the fertile banks and irrigation canals. Water channeled from the river was a true godsend during the peak growing seasons of the 20th century, but in recent years its depletion has become problematic for both the Mexican and U.S. farmers and ranchers. This area known as the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) is rich with antiquity from as early as the 18th century that includes historical milestones such as México’s 1910 revolution and the 1845 annexation of Texas as the 28th state of our country.
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‘When They Speak, We Listen’ – The Voices from a Community Center in the Heart of a Colonia
The stories in this section were collected from group and individual interviews at one of the colonia Community Center located in the southern part of Hidalgo County (known as CC to maintain privacy rights).
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