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Fronteras: Finding Maria Moreno & An 'Homenaje' To San Antonio's West Side Elders

While researching the farm worker movement, filmmaker Laurie Coyle came across several black and white photos. One woman, who appeared frequently in the photos, was later discovered to be Maria Moreno (00:17). And a new book of original song collaborations tell the stories of San Antonio West Side’s oldest residents (15:50).

Laurie Coyle (right), a documentary filmmaker and writer, in the TPR studio with Norma Martinez (left) to discuss Coyle's new documentary "Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno."
Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio
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Laurie Coyle (right), a documentary filmmaker and writer, in the TPR studio with Norma Martinez (left) to discuss Coyle's new documentary "Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno."

Before Chavez And Huerta, There Was Moreno

The names Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta will forever come to mind when we think of the farm worker movement. In 1962, they founded the National Farm Workers Association — which later became the United Farm Workers of America — and it was the first successful farm workers union in America. But Chavez and Huerta were not the only ones, or even the first, to fight for farm workers’ rights.Maria Moreno was a mother of 12 and a devout Pentecostal. But it was her hard work in the fields that caught the attention and admiration of her Mexican-American, Filipino, African-American and Okie farm worker peers. They selected her as their representative, making Moreno not only the first female organizer of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, but the first female leader of a farm worker union in the U.S.

Coyle’s curiosity of the little-known trailblazer in the 20th century farm worker movements ultimately led to the production of her documentary, “ Adios Amor — The Search for Maria Moreno.”

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Lourdes Pérez, musician, composer, poet, and creator of "Still Here: Homenaje al Westside de San Antonio" stands before a crowd to present her work at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.
Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio
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Lourdes Pérez, musician, composer, poet, and creator of "Still Here: Homenaje al Westside de San Antonio" stands before a crowd to present her work at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.

West Side San Antonio's Elders: 'I'm Still Here'

The West Side of San Antonio is predominantly poor and Hispanic, but many of its residents couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. In a new book of song collaborations, some of the area’s oldest residents shared their experiences, memories, and love for their neighborhood.

 

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.

Copyright 2020 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Maria Moreno taking a break from working the fields.
George Ballis / Take Stock /
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Maria Moreno taking a break from working the fields.

Maria Moreno, seated, taking notes.
George Ballis / Take Stock /
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Maria Moreno, seated, taking notes.

Laurie Coyle in Karnes City filming Adios Amor.
Laurie Coyle /
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Laurie Coyle in Karnes City filming Adios Amor.

Laurie Coyle
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Laurie Coyle

The book/CD collection, Still Here: Homenaje al Westside de San Antonio
Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio /
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The book/CD collection, Still Here: Homenaje al Westside de San Antonio

Graciela Sanchez, director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, speaking at the Still Here event at the Esperanza.
Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio /
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Graciela Sanchez, director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, speaking at the Still Here event at the Esperanza.

Norma Martinez is a native of El Paso and a veteran of public broadcasting. She began volunteering at the El Paso public radio station KTEP as a college student in 1989. She spent a year as a Morning Edition host and reporter at KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, New Mexico, before returning to KTEP as a full-time employee in 1995. At KTEP, Norma served as Morning Edition host, chief announcer, Traffic Director, PSA Director, and host and producer of various local shows.
Lauren Terrazas is an El Paso native and produces "Morning Edition" and "Fronteras" for Texas Public Radio. She began her work in broadcasting as an intern at KTEP, El Paso’s public radio station. While at KTEP, she went to become a production assistant and then chief announcer for "Morning Edition."