In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re highlighting some books, films and historical figures selected by several professors from schools and colleges across the university. We caught up with Richard Flores, deputy to the president for academic strategies and professor of anthropology and Latina/o Studies, to get some reading and film recommendations, and to learn more about a very influential scholar in Mexican American studies who helped shape his career path.
Family origins: Coahuila, Mexico (Mother’s side) and South Texas (Father’s side)
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Favorite Family Tradition: Big family Christmas and New Year’s get-togethers
Go-To Celebration Foods: Menudo and tamales
If I could choose a film to highlight during Hispanic Heritage Month, it would be “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” which was based off the book “With His Pistol in His Hand” by the late UT Professor Américo Paredes. The story is rooted in the conflict going on in the early 1900s between the Anglos and the Mexicans—and the violence inflicted upon the Tejano community by the Texas Rangers. The story follows a man who was accused of stealing a horse, got into trouble with the local sheriff and had to go on the run. He writes it in a way that makes it more than a ballad with social context and satire about early 20th century Texas society.
When I came across his work. I knew I had to come to UT to attend graduate school—and it was the only grad school I applied to. Although he was retired at the time, Dr. Paredes came out to teach part time, and I made it a point to meet with him and his protégé, Dr. José Limon. After talking with them, I knew that I wanted to be a scholar of Mexican American studies and anthropology. Professor Paredes is known as one of the founders of Mexican American Studies and a well-known figure during the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s. I had the great fortune of having him on my committee, and he was tough as nails because he believed all Latina and Latino scholars had to be.