The University of Texas at Brownsville
80 Fort Brown
Brownsville, Texas 78520
Dr. Manuel F. Medrano is a Brownsville native and has taught history at Texas Southmost College and The University of Texas at Brownsville for over thirty-five years. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Houston and is currently a professor of history at The University of Texas at Brownsville, specializing in Mexican American history and culture. Since 2000, he has been a member of the Humanities Texas Distinguished Speaker’s Bureau and a program consultant for Lone Star, the Story of Texas, a middle school book published by Prentice Hall. He has authored three published historical/cultural poetry books about the border: In Body and Mind, Images of the South Texas Border and In the Shadow of My Soul. Included are poems in English and Spanish about folklore, people, and traditions in the Rio Grande Valley. Additionally, he has co-authored a history book with Dr. Milo Kearney entitled Medieval Culture and the Mexican American Borderlands (2001). This book is based on the premise that the ancestral cultures in England and Spain had common roots in medieval Europe.
Since 1993, Medrano has produced and directed twenty-three oral history profiles of people and events in the Rio Grande Valley in conjunction with the UTB/TSC Media Services and Humanities Texas. They include legendary folklorist Américo Paredes, acclaimed Tejano writer Rolando Hinojosa, World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient José M. Lopez, South Texas artist Carmen Lomas Garza, and college president Juliet V. García. These interviews have provided the basis for numerous articles published in South Texas journals.
In the summer of 2002, Medrano took three groups of students who had reviewed proposed history textbooks to testify before the Texas State Board of Education for more inclusion of Hispanics and women in those books. One publisher, Prentice Hall, made some relevant changes in its middle school textbook, Lone Star, the Story of Texas. In 2005 Medrano received the Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award, and, in 2008, he received the Houston Endowed Chair for Civic Engagement at The University of Texas at Brownsville. In 2009, he was selected as a Visiting Summer Scholar for the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey to examine the impact of standardized tests on minority students. That same year he received one of The University of Texas Board of Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards. In 2010, his biography about scholar and folklorist Américo Paredes entitled Américo Paredes, In His Own Words (2010), was published by the University of North Texas Press.
The twelve-volume Los del Valle Oral History Project video series includes autobiographical sketches of legendary folklorist Américo Paredes, prolific Tejano writer Rolando Hinojosa, and conjunto pioneer Narciso Martinez. The uniqueness of the Valley’s people, culture, and heritage is also conveyed through historical accounts of the Brownsville shrimping industry, the Charro Days border celebration, and medicinal and edible plants of South Texas.
Manuel Medrano’s collection of poetry includes historical, cultural, geographic, and genealogical roots of his own family and other families like his on the border. This poetic/historical genre incorporates the basic historical elements that represent the Mexicano-Chicano-Tejano experience in the American Southwest.