On Saturday, March 8, at the third annual "Night of Culture" sponsored by the Brownsville Historical Association (BHA), Dr. Juliet V. García delivered the following remarks recognizing the BHA's receipt of the inaugural Humanities Texas Award. Dr. García, a member of the Humanities Texas board of directors, is president of the University of Texas at Brownsville.

From Dr. García's remarks:

Last year, Humanities Texas established a new award to recognize individuals and organizations around the state. The Humanities Texas Award is given to celebrate those who provide imaginative leadership in the humanities on a local, regional, or state level.

We received more than fifty nominations for the inaugural award. All of them were strong, even inspiring. In the end, however, the selection committee chose two winners: Shirley and Clifton Caldwell of Albany won the award for individual achievement. Our own Brownsville Historical Association won the award for organizational achievement.

BHA Executive Director Priscilla Rodriguez and Chairman Larry Lof, along with City Commissioner Edward Camarillo, traveled to Austin in January to receive the award from Governor Rick Perry.

We wanted to take the opportunity tonight to honor the Brownsville Historical Association in our own hometown and tell you how proud your community is of the work you have done.

During the selection process for the Humanities Texas Award, judges praised the BHA for not only more than sixty years of public humanities programming, but for also being willing and able to revise its mission, strategies, vision and programming to better serve the public.

Two years ago, BHA revised their mission and strategic plan to reach out to diverse, underserved audiences. They developed a more interactive interpretation of history and incorporated a multidisciplinary approach.

Traditionally museums might just focus on studies in ancient history. However, by incorporating the preservation of local culture into the mission, the BHA casts a wider net with the community.

The BHA is very conscientious about serving the people who live in this region, especially the Buena Vida neighborhood of which they are a part. They have done everything from collecting toys for the neighborhood children to handing out invitations to special events door-to-door. Programming is offered in English and Spanish and is often free to the public.

This new approach quadrupled their visitors in the first year.

Larry, Priscilla, to you and all of your board members and staff, I offer my congratulations.

University of Texas at Brownsville President Dr. Juliet V. García, a member of the Humanities Texas board of directors, with Larry Lof and Priscilla Rodriguez of the Brownsville Historical Association. Photograph by Walter Vasques.
Dr. García delivers her remarks at the "Night of Culture." Photograph by Eric Lupfer.